Book Club Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

I think this might be the first book that I read solely while commuting. I may have read a page here or there before bed, but I think this was 99% read on the train.

My latest read was Robert Galbraith’s (aka sneaky JK Rowling’s) The Cuckoo’s Calling. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the name. It doesn’t really tie into the book and just sounds sorta silly. Everything else about this book was great though. I wonder if I would have liked it as much if I hadn’t known it was JK. While the material is not at all reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, the level of detail really is. While reading this, I was reminded of why I love JK and HP so much. It takes only a few sentences to feel like you’re transported to the scene of the action. I’m not much of a visual person, so it’s really saying something when I feel like I can smell fresh roses or feel the winter chill just by reading about them.

The plot is interesting. It’s a pretty classic crime novel. Obviously, there’s some violence involved, but it’s sparingly discussed and only mildly detailed. The characters are fully fleshed and developed with distinguishable personalities and backstories. “Cuckoo,” the title character, referenced 90% of the time by her real name, Lula Landry, is a super model with suspicious circumstances surrounding her death and the days leading up to it. We never actually meet Lula though as her story ends before the book begins. The lead character is instead, Cormoran Strike, a private detective, who is definitely down on his luck, hired by Landry’s brother to investigate more fully what he believes the police have missed.

Cuckoo’s Calling’s main plot is the slow piecing together of the super model’s life, one which seems less enticing as the reader progresses. The subplot revolves around Strike and his new would-be gum-shoe assistant Robin. Rowling knows how to write female characters. Robin was fun and interesting and rarely clichéd. I really enjoyed her character. Strike also was full of depth and free of any 1920’s Pinkerton detective foibles.

The story will captivate you almost immediately and have you rushing to the end desperate to know what really happened. Rowling did a good job of tying up loose ends while definitely leaving the option open for a series.

Cuckoo’s Calling was a richly detailed and fun read with enough substance to keep it from feeling overly indulgent. Absolutely recommend.


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