Some time after its publication, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith was revealed to have been written by none other than J.K. Rowling. It was published under a pseudonym to allow the book to stand on its own merits and not that of its author. Until the revelation, it was selling slowly but surely and gathering positive reviews. It is difficult, if not impossible, to review this book without being aware of its authorship now that the secret is out. I would like to think though that I would have enjoyed the book as much whoever wrote it. It is a solidly written book, much more engaging than The Casual Vacancy which was written officially by Rowling.
The Cuckoo’s Calling tells the story of Cormoran Strike, an ex-SIB private investigator hired to look into the apparent suicide of model Lula Landry. Initially it appears an open and shut case of suicide, but Strike’s client, Landry’s brother John Bristow believes she was murdered. Strike is ably aided and abetted by his temporary secretary, Robin.
What I liked
Meticulous planning. One of Rowling’s strengths as a writer is her detailed, long-term planning. In Harry Potter, minor throwaway lines in book two tend to take on major significance in book six. This same planning is ably demonstrated in The Cuckoo’s Calling. The clues to resolve the mystery are scattered throughout the book and are there for a sharp eyed reader to pick up.
Likeable characters. I really enjoyed reading about Strike and Robin and thought they were engaging and realistic. Strike comes across as shrewd and level headed while Robin’s efficiency and enthusiasm for the field of investigation complemented his skills perfectly. I appreciated that a man and woman were shown as working together well without the added layer of sexual attraction that is all too often a plot device in many modern novels. The mutual respect and admiration between Strike and Robin comes across beautifully.
Writing style. While not as witty and funny as the Harry Potter novels, I did enjoy the writing style. It was immediate and engaging and kept the story moving along.
The pace. The story moves along at a good clip, with narrative tension maintained.
The narration. The Cuckoo’s Calling was narrated by Robert Glenister, who did an excellent job. I particularly enjoyed his soft Cornish accent for Strike. Here’s a sample
What I didn’t like
There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about The Cuckoo’s Caling. I found it an excellent read and gave it four and a half stars out of five.