This is my review for the detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). Although Rowling wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith I will be referring to the author as J.K. Rowling. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Summery: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, 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.
Review: When I first heard that J.K. Rowling had written a detective novel under a pseudonym I wasn’t exactly rushing out to buy it. But when it was chosen as my book club book last month I was actually excited to have an excuse to read it.
While I was reading I got so caught up in trying to figure out who the murderer was that it wasn’t until I finished reading the book that I realized there wasn’t a lot going on plot-wise: it was mostly just Strike interviewing Lula’s friends and family. I loved the descriptions of not only the different characters but of London itself. Rowling does a great job of describing the different people Strike meets during the course of the book. Many of them (especially Evan Dunfield) seem as if they could be based on modern day celebrities. However, despite the whole investigation being about Lula I felt that at the end we didn’t really know her so it was really hard to really care about her. I wish Rowling would have explored her a little more especially the whole mental illness aspect of her character.
I don’t know if Rowling did it intentionally, so that she would have more to draw on in the next book, but there was a lot of loose ends that hadn’t been tied by the end of the book. They never really explained why John had hired Strike in the first place. I mean if you had gotten away with murder why hire a P.I. to investigate. Also I felt that there was some unresolved tension between Strike and Robin that I really hope is explored more in the next book.
Best Feature: Cormoran Strike. Out of all the characters Strike was my favorite (that’s not surprising since he’s the main character) mostly because he was the most drawn out (again not that surprising). I thought his whole backstory is very interesting, from relationship with his parents and his sister, to his time in the army.
Worst Feature: The reveal. While I was surprised by who the killer turned out to be I felt as thought the big reveal at the end was a little bit anti-climatic. Although to it’s credit it very much reminded me of one of those old film noir detective movies when the detective (or P.I.) would confront the killer then proceed to tell the killer (and the audience) how he did the murder.
Overview: After reading this book I can understand why Rowling wrote this book under a pseudonym because coming into this book knowing it was written by her I had very high expectations. Overall I enjoyed the book. I don’t usually read detective novels but I am glad I picked this one up. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series because I feel very invested in the character of Strike and want to see what happens next with him (and Robin).