Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cormoran Strike is a private detective who has broken up with his fiancee, been kicked out of his home (and is sleeping in his office), and is completely and utterly broke. Therefore, he can’t really turn down the lucrative case that comes his way, even though he’s pretty sure he can’t help his new client (and has told him as much). John Bristow’s sister was the notorious model Lula Landry, who so tragically committed suicide by leaping off her apartment balcony. John’s convinced that she didn’t kill herself, and now it’s up to Coromoran to discover the truth behind Lula’s death.
A surprisingly satisfying crime novel with an intriguing main character, The Cuckoo’s Calling proves that J.K. Rowling can do more than just Harry Potter.
When The Cuckoo’s Calling first was released under the name Robert Galbraith, I didn’t really take notice. The plot sounded interesting enough, so I put the advance galley I received on the shelf and promptly forgot about it. Then, a few months later, huge news broke: Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling, writing under a pseudonym. That was enough for me to move the book to the top of my to-read list, but it still lingered. Now, with the second Cormoran Strike novel (The Silkworm) out, I decided it was finally time to tackle this novel. But I worried: at this point, were my expectations too high?
Happily, though, Rowling delivers once again with The Cuckoo’s Calling. She continues with her wonderful character development and trademark descriptions that made the Harry Potter series such a success, but Cormoran Strike is an altogether different animal. Overweight, and with a missing leg after serving in Afghanistan, Strike isn’t exactly your typical hero. Everyone around him constantly underestimates him because of his appearance and demeanor, and Strike uses that to his advantage. He’s clever and resourceful, making for a great, intriguing character for this series.
The secondary characters in The Cuckoo’s Calling are also very nuanced and detailed; readers will particularly enjoy Strike’s new temp, Robin, as she tries to make heads or tails of her new boss, and slowly finds herself warming to him (as the reader does as well). It’s also interesting to get to know Lula posthumously, as Strike immerses himself in her life, determined to discover if there was any foul play behind her death. The story takes the reader on twists and turns, ensuring that the reader is both satisfied and delighted on every page.
When I first heard that Rowling was writing a crime novel many years ago (before The Casual Vacancy was released), I wasn’t sure how well it would work for her. I shouldn’t have doubted Rowling’s prowess, though: The Cuckoo’s Calling is a truly great addition to the crime family. Strike is an intriguing main character, and I’m confident that Rowling has barely scratched the surface with him, as complex as she’s written him. God knows Rowling doesn’t need my recommendation to sell books, but I wanted to let all those other readers out there who were hesitating at picking up her post-Harry Potter novels, or indeed those who weren’t fans of the series. If you enjoy crime novels, then The Cuckoo’s Calling is absolutely worth the read, whether you’re a Rowling fan or not.