The Cuckoo’s Calling (A Cormoran Strike Novel)
Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)
Audiobook read by Robert Glenister
Mulholland Books (2014), Paperback (ISBN 1478980826 / 9781478980827)
Fiction, 464 pages
Source: Purchased audiobook (Hachette Audio, May 2013, ISBN 9781611134933; Audible ASIN B00CTQ2ZS8)
True confession time: I doubt I would have paid any attention to The Cuckoo’s Calling if I hadn’t learned that “Robert Galbraith” was a pseudonym, and that this detective novel was a no-longer-secret side project for J.K. Rowling. I became interested in the story behind the story pretty quickly when that news broke. I didn’t get as interested in the story itself until some time later–and by the time I did get interested, I’d come across some good reviews of the audiobook, so I thought I’d read it that way.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is a detective/mystery novel, which means that unraveling the plot is more than half the fun–and since I don’t want to spoil your fun, I won’t say too much about it. The novel opens with a dead body in the street on a snowy winter night–did reknowned supermodel Lula Landry jump from her balcony, or was she pushed over? The police have said it’s a suicide, but the victim’s brother isn’t accepting that, and he’s making a pretty generous offer to down-and-out P.I. Cormoran Strike to launch an independent investigation. With only one other active client and no home but his back office, Strike can’t turn down this dubious case–or the assistance of his temporary secretary, Robin Ellacott.
The novel felt like it was a little longer than it strictly needed to be, but I didn’t guess the final twist too far in advance of the revelation, and I appreciated that–it’s never satisfying to solve a mystery too soon. I appreciated even more that the novel didn’t skimp on character development, particularly that of the detective and his assistant–I really enjoyed getting to know them both.
I’m not sure I would have liked this one quite so much in print, but I really enjoyed actor Robert Glenister’s reading of The Cuckoo’s Calling in audiobook, especially his character voices. If I stick with the Strike series–and he continues as its audio narrator–I’m pretty certain this will continue to be my preferred reading format.
It seemed to me that J.K. Rowling probably have had a lot of fun writing this…especially given that at the time, almost no one was aware that she was writing it, so she must have had an unexpected amount of freedom. That freedom is not likely to accompany the writing of future Cormoran Strike novels–the second in the series, The Silkworm, is out this month–but I hope that won’t hold her back. Rowling’s already responsible for one genuine worldwide phenomenon; we don’t need another Harry Potter, and I think this establishes that she doesn’t need one either. (That said, am I the only one who envisioned Strike, based on the character’s physical description, as a somewhat more refined Hagrid?)
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.
Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
“The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies. Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-snouted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam. Snow fell steadily on to hats and shoulders; gloved fingers wiped lenses clear. From time to time there came outbreaks of desultory clicking, as the watchers filled the waiting time by snapping the white canvas tent in the middle of the road, the entrance to the tall red-brick apartment block behind it, and the balcony on the top floor from which the body had fallen.”