J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She has moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids, including mine, to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she’s written a novel for grown-ups - a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.
A local politician in an English town drops dead, prompting people who knew him not to mourn, but to start asking what his suddenly empty seat on the town council could mean for them. There is no magic in “A Casual Vacancy,” though readers of the Potter books may well recognize Rowling’s acute and often painful observations of human nature.