Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Cuckoo's CallingThe Cuckoo’s Calling
by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Fiction (Released April, 2013)

Bottom Line: Read it.
Summary: Down on his luck detective, Cormoran Strike, and his temporary secretary, Robin, investigate the suspicious suicide of famous model Lula Landry at the behest of her adopted brother.
My Thoughts: This book got lots of buzz a few months after its publication under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith”. “Galbraith” was soon outed as Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling and the book shot to number one on Amazon’s Bestseller List within hours (it had previously only sold 500 copies). I was certainly interested to see how Rowling tackled the mystery/thriller genre, even though I was not a fan of her first “adult” fiction effort, The Casual Vacancy. Cuckoo is a standard mystery with more fully developed characters than you find in most thrillers. I feel like most mysteries consist of events happening in quick succession and don’t focus much on the characters themselves. Rowling does a great job developing characters, especially Lula. I felt like I intimately knew her even though she was dead in the book’s first paragraph. It actually made me think of how police must get to know the victims in the course of real-life murder investigations. Though the investigation builds more slowly than in many mysteries I’ve read, I felt like it was more true to the pace of a real life murder investigation. Rowling also used the old standby of the “down on his luck, but quite talented” detective type – like Stieg Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist and Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole. But, despite the familiar archetype, Cormoran Strike was a likable and entertaining character. Finally, the ending did have a few too many convenient coincidences that enabled Strike to solve the puzzle. But, all in all, Cuckoo is a well-written mystery with more in-depth characters than usual for the genre. It’s going on my Page Turners List.

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