The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), pub. April 2013, 455 pg.
Rating: 4/5 stars
I’m not going to lie: I probably would not have picked up The Cuckoo’s Calling if it hadn’t been leaked that it was truly authored by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. As unfortunate as it is for Ms. Rowling that this was made public (I’m sure it was really nice to get sincere feedback from the public on a book and not have critiques be slanted from the knowledge that it was written by one of the most famous writers of our time), I can’t help but be glad that I found out, because this book was definitely worth reading.
I’ve always had a soft spot for detective stories, and this one did not disappoint. Cormoran Strike is a down-on-his-luck private detective when he is offered a job that could make or break his career. After supermodel Lula Landry fell to her death from her apartment balcony several months earlier, the police wrote it off as a suicide. But Landry’s brother, John Bristow, is convinced that someone killed his sister and hires Strike to take the case. As Strike works his way through the investigation, he uncovers sordid scandals and hidden secrets that could put the lives of others in danger.
This book was full of great characters. Strike is gruff (as is any private detective worth his salt), but he also has that lovable, giant teddy bear quality. While outwardly he’s a large, intimidating man with a stern manner, it’s easy to see that he truly cares about a number of people, and he can be a total softy. He’s also hilarious. His banter with his temporary secretary, Robin, is fantastic, and their give-and-take relationship is really satisfying to read.
As Strike investigates Landry’s death, we see a number of suspects and get inside details from many different characters, all without pointing to one particular culprit. In fact, I was guessing (wrongly, I might add) up until the moment the truth was revealed. Rowling does a great job with feeding the reader clues and hints without giving away what actually happened.
The only thing I wish this book had more of was Strike’s background. We get peeks into his private life and what he was doing before starting his own P.I. business, but I wanted to know even more. I also wish we could have seen more interaction between Robin and her fiance, Matthew, who mostly hovers in the background of the story.
Fans of Harry Potter who are looking for another whirlwind, kid-friendly read will probably not appreciate The Cuckoo’s Calling (there’s an awful lot of swearing and some minorly risque scenes), but fans of Rowling’s writing in general will be pleased to know that her style carries through. If I had read this before it was revealed that she was the author, I probably wouldn’t have picked up on it, but there are many similarities between this and her other books, particularly in the way she describes things.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Cuckoo’s Calling. It had all the elements needed to make a great mystery, and I can’t wait until the next book in the Cormoran Strike series is published.
Which authors would you still love to read, even if they drastically changed their genres? Let me know in the comments!