Rating: 4 stars
The Cuckoo’s Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
A brilliant 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, the legendary 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.
When I first began reading this book, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of it. I’d attempted to read The Casual Vacancy a while back, but never really got too far into it. As a Harry Potter fan who hadn’t really read any other work by the author who wrote one of my beloved favorite series, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of this book. But after giving it a read, however, I found myself really enjoying it.
The main storyline in The Cuckoo’s Calling is about a famous supermodel whose death everyone believed to be a suicide. However, her brother John Bristow thinks differently and hires private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into her case. What he discovers investigating her death is a labyrinth of twists and turns to get to the truth of how she died.
What I enjoyed when reading The Cuckoo’s Calling is the characters. I enjoyed hearing in detail about Strike’s personal life, learning more about him and his relation to the world of the famous he was searching for answers. He’s a rough character I wasn’t expecting to be introduced to in this book, but I found his roughness to be quite alluring. It also helped explain certain details that came up as we learned more about him. I also liked Robin’s character quite a bit. She’s a very resourceful woman and I loved reading her interactions with Strike as these events unfolded. She’s also a character I could find myself relating to in this story because I’d probably react the same way as her if I found myself working for a private investigator. I’d want to get myself entangled into the investigation, want to find some way of helping solve the case or providing much needed information to help find the suspect. I wouldn’t want to accept a job somewhere else because the job I’d have would be exactly where I want to be. I liked the relationship the author gave between Strike and Robin. It was very cordial and friendly without being too intrusive. Robin allowed Strike to live his life without interfering, but was supportive of him whenever he needed it.
I also enjoyed the details Robert Galbraith put into the storyline. It’s a story full of richly deep plot that’s not too complex for any reader to enjoy. But it also has enough new vocabulary for the reader who wants a challenge when reading. The writing style is also unique because Galbraith tells us what happens throughout as Strike begins to investigate Lula’s death. You see the crime scene in front of you and hear the dialogue between Strike and all of the characters who were involved. You see how Strike uncovers evidence to the crime and find out how he knows who killed Lula. It’s such a good read that I couldn’t wait to find out how it unfolded.
Not only do I enjoy this book because it’s a crime mystery novel, but also because you get to see the underbelly of being a celebrity. Galbraith takes us into the world of being a celebrity by allowing us to see what they deal with on a daily basis. You see this whenever Strike interviews Evan about his involvement with Lula. You get to see him and Ciara being hounded by paparazzi whenever they leave a building and being followed home. In this book, you get to see both the good and the bad about being famous and how anyone is capable of murder.
There are two things with The Cuckoo’s Calling, however, I didn’t particularly enjoy. For one, I didn’t like how the chapters were divided. Galbraith divided the book into separate parts, and then had chapters in each part. The reason I didn’t particularly like this is because it felt completely random how it was done. I also felt like the story could’ve continued without it. While I don’t necessarily mind books being divided into sections like this one, I just didn’t feel like it made sense to do it.
My other criticism with this book is I felt like there was more telling in this story than showing. For example, whenever you find out who kills Lula, Strike explains it to you how he came to this conclusion instead of showing all of the details that made him get there. While I don’t mind being told what happens, it killed the suspense in the story for me. It took away the element of surprise because I was told who killed Lula instead of being shown how that conclusion was made. And I felt like this happened a lot throughout the book, which at times seemed a little too much for me. There were times in the story where I wanted to be shown certain details instead of being told about them later on.
But despite these two criticisms I had with this book, The Cuckoo’s Calling was such an enjoyable read to me. It was full of interesting characters, intriguing mystery and details about being famous that really made me flip the page to find out what happened next. I can’t wait to continue reading this series to find out what happens with Strike and Robin next. Hopefully, The Silkworm will be as much as an enjoyable read as The Cuckoo’s Calling was for me.