Christina’s Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)

Christina’s Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert GalbraithJ. K. Rowling
Published by Hachette Digital, Inc. on 2013-04-30
Genres: Crime, Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Our book club read The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling about a year ago… for me, the book felt long and was a slow read for most of the book. Some members of the club put the book down half way and did not bother to pick it back up to finish. The end was rewarding for those of us who read all the way through because of its slam-grand finish that hooked me the last quarter of the book and had me appreciate the details of the book more. However, I did not feel the book was a testament of Rowling’s talents.

This past month, the book club selected The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, Rowling’s pseudonym. I was excited to read this book, but skeptical at the same time given the “popularity” of her previous book with the club and its slow progression. The Cuckoo’s Calling surprised me… it did not read like The Casual Vacancy (in fact, if I did not know the book was written by her I would not have guessed she was the author…then again, I probably would not have picked up the book if I didn’t already know that either). Instead, this book read like a classic murder mystery. With the mysterious death of Lula Landry, a beautiful model, Cormoran Strike is hired by the dead model’s brother to look into her alleged suicide for foul play and a potential murder suspect. Her brother will not accept she committed suicide and throws his money to a private detective to confirm he is not crazy and that Lula did not kill herself. It had to be murder.

“Galbraith” carries the reader through a systematically investigated murder mystery. The organization of the book allowed the reader to easily follow through the series of events that take place during the investigation, including the interviews with people from Lula’s life who may have had a connection to the murder. Potential evidence or personal-life details that have the ability to play out later in the book are noted throughout the case. The complex lives of Cormoran Strike and his temporary assistant intermingle and add to the crossing of their personal lives with the case at hand to solve… all while the reader is trying to piece together evidence to determine if Lula did in fact kill herself or if it was murder. If it turned out to be murder… who was the killer/s?

I found myself reading The Cuckoo’s Calling every opportunity I received. I was reading it after work, in the mornings waiting for the metro, and even pulling it out just to read a couple of pages while standing on the elevator. I found the book to be a good read and have already recommended it to colleagues and friends for their next book. Unlike The Casual Vacancy, this book kept me interested throughout with a good story-line, identifiable characters, and the anticipation on who Strike will choose to meet and talk with next. I thought I knew the answer to Lula’s mysterious death and the way the book would play out in the end… but I was wrong.

I did feel incomplete at the end of the book, however. After carrying through, noting certain details mentioned throughout the book I thought would play a role in the end, as well as identifying potential roles individuals may have played in Lula’s death…some of these details and individuals were never connected back to the conclusion in the end. I wanted to read about the reactions from certain characters to the results of Lula’s mysterious case. I felt somewhat disappointed when details mentioned throughout the book I thought would have an impact or role later in the story were not even mentioned in the end. (I don’t want to give any examples here for risk of spoiling it for another… so feel free to email me to talk more about this: I would have liked more of a character epilogue to draw together individuals’ reactions and, if possible, other details mentioned earlier in the book. On that note, I was also not satisfied with the end-findings on her death… I think it has left me with more questions than answers from the beginning of the book.

Overall, a good read and great book club pick. If you like murder-mysteries, I think you may appreciate the organization of this one. (Although, I hope you feel more satisfied in the end!)

pj - christina

What do you think?

  • I totally agree with your perceptions in the last paragraph. The character reactions would have made the book five stars for me as well! Have you gotten a copy of The Silkworm yet?

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