The Cuckoo’s Calling was a seriously hard one to rate; I deliberated between 3 and 4 stars for hours so I’ve settled on 3.5 stars.
(Note – I read and reviewed this as an ARC before we all knew JK Rowling wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pen name Robert Galbraith. This doesn’t alter my review in any way but I’m glad I got to read this one with unbiased eyes)
Detective Cormoran Strike (what a name!) is a bit of a stereotypical lone wolf detective. However he has an unusual past in that he lost half a leg which on duty in Afghanistan which he is still coming to terms with. Throw in a broken relationship, messy childhood, money problems and you have one mixed up but likeable guy.The Cuckoo's Calling by J K Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Published by Mulholland Books on 18 Apr 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
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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.
He is struggling to keep his Private Investigation business afloat, when a wealthy client comes through his doors. The client had a sister who was a high profile supermodel who had allegedly committed suicide a few months ago but the client is adamant, it was murder and wants Cormoran to investigate.
Take your mixed up detective, add in a maybe-murder plus a new PA who wants to be a detective and you get the sum of a very interesting novel. When Robin the PA entered the scenario, I did eye roll a bit expecting her to be the love interest. But that is not the case at all and I’m glad we didn’t fall at that first hurdle.
Also towards the end of the book, I thought I had the case solved and was a bit disappointed at how predictable it all seemed. But I was too quick to put 1 and 1 together to make 3 and my theories were way off base. I’m happy to be proven wrong as I hate predictable, I want curve balls, the more the better.
So on the positive side, we have interesting, well developed characters, a plot that’s complex enough to keep you guessing and lots of red herrings to try and confuse you. The London setting is also very atmospheric and well described. Cormoran’s struggles to adjust to life with his new handicap and his hatred of sympathy make for an interesting personal struggle that I found easy to empathise with.
On the negative side, I felt the book was too long. I found my attention dragging at times. I think some detail could be cut out as it wasn’t necessary and would have kept things moving along at a sharper pace. A suspense book should be a page turner, keeping you at the edge of your seat but I didn’t find that here.
Overall, The Cockoo’s Calling is a book I’m glad I read as it has something a bit different to offer and if there are more books about Cormoran and Robin; I would definitely pick one up to see how things develop.
Recommended: For fans of mystery/thriller books but don’t expect a white knuckle ride as you won’t get that here. What you will get is a good plot and great characters.
Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for giving me a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.