The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

  • Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
  • Author: Robert Galbraith
  • Genre: Crime/Hardboiled Detective 
  • Series: Yes book 1 of Cormoran Strike
  • Available in the library: Yes
  • Would recommend to: crime fans, J.K. Rowling fans (to some extent).

“How could the death of someone you had never met affect you so?”

Robert Galbraith is a writer of crime fiction that came crashing onto the scene in 2013 with the first novel of his Cormoran Strike series: The Cuckoo’s Calling. Last year in 2014, they continued the successful series with The Silkworm and in 2015 another sequel is planned. But The Cuckoo's Callingthis crime fiction author is not who they seem, for Robert Galbraith is actually the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. And who would have thought that a person that once wrote children’s novels about witches and wizards could also have wrote a violent and gruesome hard-boiled detective book?

The Cuckoo’s Calling follows Cormoran Strike, our protagonist and a private investigator, as he attempts to solve a months-old murder mystery involving a mixed race model, while also trying to pick up the pieces of his personal life as he loses his girlfriend and house. On top of that, he has an unpaid debt to his father, a famous rock star who Strike barely knows, and he also lost a leg years ago while he served in the army. So, he really doesn’t have much going on for him right now. His only hope to regain his life rests in solving this case and claiming a considerable payment from the brother of the dead model, who believes there is more to this mystery than there seems.

I don’t really read much crime. I’ve read heaps of Sherlock Holmes, but that’s about the extent of my experience in the genre. Regardless, I really enjoyed this book. Rowling’s ability at creating bizarre and fascinating characters is really put on display for the world to see here. You’ve got Strike’s mercurial ex-girlfriend, Charlotte, who has been on/off with him for the past fifteen years. Lula Landry, the bipolar murder victim who was merely trying to piece together her own heritage. Or Cormoran himself, who could have very easily been done badly and turned out as your typical hardboiled detective; the cynical loner with a tragic past. But instead he has a unique backstory and a cool personality.

Setting-wise, you can tell Rowling has a good idea of what she’s doing. She captures London’s whole vibe and atmosphere perfectly. From the pub culture to the tube, it’s obvious she has firsthand experience with what she’s writing about.

Overall, The Cuckoo’s Calling was a great read. I would recommend it to older Harry Potter fans who enjoy Rowling’s writing style, though it’s the kind of book a wide variety of people can enjoy. It’s also a bit of a novelty seeing Rowling try her hand at a genre so different from Harry Potter!

For information on J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith and her other works, visit her website here.

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