Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Synopsis: When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. 

A war veteran, wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike's life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . . 

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London - from the hushed streets of Mayfair, to the backstreet pubs of the East End, to the bustle of Soho - The Cuckoo's Calling is a remarkable debut. Introducing Cormoran Strike, it is a classic crime novel unlike any other book you will read this year.

Pages: 449

Rating: 8/10

Overall: The Cuckoo's Calling has fascinating characters and a plot that keeps you guessing until the end. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the sequel.
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

The Cuckoo's Calling. I immediately liked what I read from blurbs so I knew I was going to read it regardless of the author. And I'm glad I did.

It is your standard type of crime detective novel in a lot of ways. The death is set up, our protagonist detective is called to try and prove that the suicide was actually a murder, and then the rest of the novel is a breadcrumb trail to find the murderer. There is nothing wrong with that and it works really well for this book. And JKR handles the intrigue and mystery brilliantly.

The circumstances surrounding the murder of Lula Landry are murky at best when the story starts, and throughout the book, small details are revealed bit by bit to help the reader and Cormoran Strike build a picture of what happened on that fateful night. I literally had no idea who the murderer was - I flipped back and forth between a few suspects, never landing on the actual person - until the Big Reveal. Just how it should be, if you ask me. The Big Reveal was very Poirot-esque, with lots of exposition, not unlike JKR's usual unveiling of plots in Harry Potter. I did feel though that the wrapping up of the plot at the end was a bit too "Wham bam, thank you Ma'am." Probably just me though.

The main characters themselves were likeable and relatable. Cormoran Strike (a fabulous name for a detective) is an imposing character both in looks and personality. He commands attention from the people he talks to but also has a quiet patience when questioning people. He doesn't feel the need to fill silences with innocuous questions but rather waits until they reveal their secrets willingly. He has a dogged determination to find out the truth, an obviously useful trait for any detective. His interesting backstory is sure to bring back readers for more when sequels come out.

Strike has a partner of sorts, his temp agency secretary, Robin Ellacott. Strike both wants and doesn't want Robin around. Even after her temp contract working for him runs out she continues to come back and work for him. She is enthusiastic for detective work, but is obviously green. On the other hand Robin helps Strike look and be more professional and efficient. I liked their dynamic, with her ignoring Strike's living arrangements and him ignoring the fact that he enjoyed having someone like her around. I hope there will be more from her in future novels. However the use of her POV felt forced and unnecessary. I'm not sure it added much.

The Cuckoo's Calling is a very entertaining book. It ticks the boxes for excitement, intrigue, mystery and underhandedness. It is a study on the role of the media in today's society, how it affects those who need it, those who want it and those who have it whether they want it or not. It looks at the collateral damage the media has on everyone, from the famous to the infamous, and to the everyday people.

I really enjoyed this book. I have to say it was more enjoyable than The Casual Vacancy, mainly because the characters were just so much more likeable! The complexity and subtlety of the plot kept me unsuccessfully striving to work out who it was. I can see it working as a great tv series! I am now looking forward to the sequel, The Silkworm, which is out in June.

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