The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Book Review)

The Cuckoo's Calling - Book Cover (Blue Sky & Railings)

Book Synopsis:

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.


My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Genre: Detective, Mystery, Crime

Pages: 480

My Thoughts:

If you read the book blurb you’ll know by now that this book was written by, none other than, world-renowned author, J. K. Rowling! This is not her first foray into adult fiction, though it is my first time reading her works for older people. As is evident from the rating I’m giving, The Cuckoo’s Calling did not amaze me thoroughly. I want to give it a 3.8 rating because I did enjoy quite some bits and didn’t want to put it down, but to keep my blog and rating system more orderly I can only give it 3.5 stars.

Now, now, it wasn’t all bad. In fact it wasn’t bad at all. I love thick books and that usually forewarns the reader that things weren’t going to be fast-paced. I don’t mind that.

I appreciate the little mentions of the difficulties someone without a leg goes through in normal situations where people without the disability wouldn’t even bat an eye. Rowling properly delved into the character of Cormoran Strike(and other characters as well). I quite liked the fashion designer, Guy Somé, with his bluntness and airs. The guy had his eccentricities but he was surprisingly straightforward and normal in certain aspects. One of the most appealing aspects of this novel are the fleshed-out characters. They’re full of life and their small mannerisms make them seem like they’re actually real!

Detective Strike is certainly not your usual Sherlock Holmes; he doesn’t have an infinitesimal bank balance, something that’s normally overlooked in all your usual detective novels, he lacks a large part of one of his leg, and he’s certainly no Patrick Dempsey. He’s big, he’s hairy and he’s human. What I appreciate about the kind of storytelling in The Cuckoo’s Calling is that it shows how it’s like to be a detective in real life. Sometimes people talk, sometimes they don’t. You don’t have first dibs on the crime-scene and often have to make do with months-old information acquired by someone else. There’s red tape and legal hoops to jump through, which often results in some pulling of strings in the name of solving the case. Yet, Strike manages to pull through and make the best of what he can get his hands on, with of course, some ingenious methods employed by his efficient new secretary(temporary secretary, because he can’t afford a permanent).

The lives of celebrities aren’t much different, apart from the luxurious services and amenities available at the snap of a finger. If this is a true glimpse of celebrity life then it doesn’t seem so appealing as one would think it is. The only thing attractive about it is the comfortable houses and freebies you get.

Now, another thing I didn’t like about this book was the proliferation of beautiful women. It’ll be a bit disappointing if Strike ended up with Robin, just for the sake of not conforming to the usual pairing of stunning ladies as love interests. But I’ll admit, I’d be happy for Strike if that did happen because the poor guy deserves someone like her. You could see either scenarios happening.

In the end, what caused my rating to drop from a 4 was because of the ending. If you’re new to detective/mystery fiction, you’ll most probably find it shocking. But to someone who’s read quite a few books in the genre, I’d say it was annoying. Although, there was one revelation that caught me unaware, and restored some of my faith in Rowling’s writing prowess.

Spoilers Start Here

As to why I find the conclusion annoying – it’s because, to me,  John Bristow as the killer felt like Rowling deliberately chose him to give maximum shock value. The thought of the victim’s own brother as the culprit crossed my mind probably twice. My main money was on her uncle, Tony Landry. But John Bristow? He’s the one who went out of his way to find a private detective to re-look into the case. And on the very front that he thinks his sister’s death wasn’t a suicide. I mean, why would you try to dig up an already closed case and insinuate that there was foul-play, when you could’ve kept on letting people think it was a suicide?? Granted, he was afraid some people might get suspicious of him being the immediate heir to her money but he had an alibi, and if his girlfriend or Tony Landry talked(for lying about his alibi) the opposing lawyer still wouldn’t have a strong enough case against the killer. 

However, I was mighty surprised and had to spend a few moments to take it in that he killed Charlie, too! Now THAT was shocking. It fit in perfectly and Charlie’s death took on a whole new light. To be able to do that at such a young age just shows what a psycho John was.

On another note, I disliked how such a vixen like Charlotte could have fallen for Strike, and before anyone puts forth their argument, she could not have pretended all those years to like him. At one point, she must have seen something in him. There’s nothing to dislike about this if Rowling didn’t put in another beauty, with potential to be paired with Strike, in his life. Like, come on. I thought we were doing the whole not-gonna-follow-the-norm kind of thing? Why can’t the hero fall for an average Jane? On one hand, Robin would be a fantastic match for him, but on the other, I can see them having a platonic relationship as well. Either way, they make for fantastic partners.

End Of Spoilers

Should You Get It?

Get it if:

  • You’re fairly new to crime-fiction and detective novels.
  • You’d like to have a teensy glimpse of what celebrities have to put up with.
  • You like slow-paced novels.
  • You prefer detective or crime-fiction with some story, unlike the formulaic CSI-like books.
  • You want to read on how sleuthing around is actually like in real life.

Don’t get it if:

  • You have a knack of sussing out what’s going to happen or are familiar with many plot devices, be it novel-wise or TV.
  • You prefer fast-paced thrillers with high-stakes.

Parental Guidance: PG-15

It goes without saying that since this is aimed at adults, the author has free rein to add explicit content, and is obviously not suitable for kids. Nevertheless, some of us adults don’t particularly care for crude scenes and language, for reasons of our own. Therefore, I shall still include ‘parental guidance’, or rather, ‘content guidance’ for adult novels as well.

This books contains:

  • Mildly-moderately(depending on your personal opinion) disturbing descriptions of deceased victims.
  • A violent scene(I won’t tell who were involved for fear of spoilers).
  • Sexuality, innuendos, extremely short depiction of a sex scene(one line).
  • Crude language peppered throughout.
  • No religious preaching.
  • Characters who’re drug addicts and mention of drugs.

Where To Get It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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