You may find it hard to believe but The Casual Vacancy is the first book I've read by J.K. Rowling and what a read it was! J.K. Rowling is a masterful storyteller (which probably is old news to Harry Potter fans) and her writing is enticing, entertaining and enlightening. She develops each of her characters well and draws the reader into the village of Pangford. Even at over 500 pages, I was so absorbed with the lives of the characters, I didn't want it to end. But I wouldn't recommend starting the book unless you have at least a few hours to spare. With 20+ characters, who are often referred to by nicknames, it takes a while to figure out who is who.
Note: The Casual Vacancy is also a mini series.
From the cover:
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes a catalyst for the biggest war the town has seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations.
Note: The movie of the same name has a little different storyline.