If it weren't for bad luck, P.I. Cormoran Strike would have no luck at all these days. You could even say he's struck out -- romantically, his long-time girlfriend has returned to the guy she left for him; physically, described as an intelligent giant of a man with a "bulging forehead" and a face that looks like it "had taken to boxing," he's let himself go since he returned from the war, where he lost "half a leg;" economically, booted from the home he shared with his ex, he's now curling up on his office couch, and the only business calls coming in are from debt collectors.
But, things are about to look up when the resourceful Miss Robin Ellacot shows up to temporarily fill in for Strike's former assistant, and, one Mr. John Bristow knock's on the door seeking out the sleuth's services. Bristow is the perfect character to be included in the game Clue: an uppity nose-to-the-ceiling kind of British chap with pinched lips that pucker around 2 protruding front teeth. He wants the down-and-out detective to prove the death of his super model sister, Lulu (aka Cuckoo) was a murder -- not a suicidal plunge from the balcony of her posh apartment at the Mayfair. Bristow is a man used to getting what he wants. Cuckoo's Calling is populated with such quirky dimensional characters: paparazzi, rappers, models, addicts, and wanna-bes. Intriguing, likeable, or despicable -- it's a memorable cast (Rowling's depiction of Guy Somé was hilarious). Cormoran Strike is the charismatic leading character that you can't help but like, a smart and warm hearted guy that will sell a series, hopefully still assisted by Robin (I'm sure you've already heard the second installment is on the way).
Rowling is a sensational storyteller, and once again proves that she can create magic. London is the perfectly conceived and drawn backdrop, rich with the local flavors -- you are enveloped in the scene, pounding the streets with Strike and the curious Miss Ellacot as they hunt down the clues. And though this isn't a heart-pounding blood-pumping paced story, it is a tightly constructed crime mystery that, as it unfolds, gains depth and builds suspense. Every step provides a wealth of clues, or intended distractions, and the story seems to fly by -- often in a direction you didn't expect, thanks to the honored British tradition of the red herrings (a reason the UK gives out the prestigious Crime Writers Association's Red Herring Award). And, it did reminded me of the traditional British-mysteries, where the Investigator painstakingly uncovers the clues and takes the reader along as a partner (think Agatha Christie, Inspector Morse, Poirot). Rowling builds her characters as you read , filling in the details of their back stories and personal lives, keeping the development of story and character in a forward tandem path with no string left loose.
Talent like Rowling's shines through, evidenced by the much deserved pre-leak rave reviews for a "stunning debut novel." Of course we have hindsight, but the intelligence and the rhythm of the words is immediately familiar and comfortable, with an obvious virtuosity. On some level, the writing is recognizable. Some author's develop the kind of talent that distinguishes them and becomes almost like a fingerprint. (The name of the deceased model, Lulu Landry seems like a glaring nod to Harry Potter's Luna Lovegood.) Reading Rowling is always an experience. Robert Glenister gives a stellar performance that deserves every star. His is a perfect voice already, and perfect for Strike -- as well as the words of Rowling.
I was hesitant to review when I first finished, watching the rave reviews come in, and thinking it would be hard to give a review from "the purity of obscurity rather than the distracting glare of hindsight" [Mark Lawson, the Guardian] as a few reviewers were able to do. I didn't see this as a 5* read, and even reading just the summary I might have passed. Luckily, The Cuckoo's Calling was blasted out of the obscurity of 4,709th place on the publisher's sales list to number 1; thank you Loose Lips for the leak -- it was well worth the read (at least for us--hope it doesn't cost him his job). An enjoyable read that I can give an enthusiastic recommendation. I'm one that will be looking forward Strike 2.
*FYI* I thought this was interesting:
Fictional biography by the publisher (Little Brown Books): "Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym." (There it is right in our face) "Hagrid in a trenchcoat"...Maureen Corigan/NPR Books
From the very start, you were hooked into this story. I couldn't stop listening because I wanted to know what happened next. Also you really cared for the characters. They were believable and had depth.
Both Cormoran and Robin I enjoyed how they interacted and it was enjoyable to see how their characters evolved
So many but of course the scene were the murder is exposed
There were many emotional moments but it was constantly moving and enjoyable
Supposedly this is a pen name of JK Rowling....I never read any of the "Potter" books so I can't make a comparison. However this book is wonderful and I hope he/she continues this series
I downloaded this book because of the buzz and stayed because I literally couldn't put it down. First of all, I cared about the main characters...they were complex, interesting and not the least bit cliched. Strike, the main character has a fascinating history and an equally interesting present. Others are likewise intriguing. I wanted to sit down with them, have a good dinner and knew I would be assured of good conversation. The plot is sophisticated and the process of moving through the puzzle is drawn in great detail.
I also thought the descriptions of place and people were very well done.
The narration was excellent.
I bought it after reading in the NYT that JK Rowling wrote it, and it's a winner. I was ready for her to write an adult winner, even after reading her "A Casual Vacancy" and finding it lacking. What a depressing dirge of a novel that was, quite the contrast to her Harry Potters. I wondered if she were going to continue to save her energy and humor for children, and pour on the grim for adults.
This book is the answer, and it's a resounding no. Great writing, Brilliant, seemingly tossed-off descriptions that lodge each character in the head as real. Great detective plot. Wonderful characters, none stereotypes. Surprises abound. I bought it because of the reviews, and because I love the Potter series, which I read aloud to a niece as each came out. This is as good as the Potters, and completely different. Rowling is a writer for the ages, our Graham Greene, maybe. Also, fabulous narrator.
I love everything about "The Cockoo's Calling," even though I'm not interested in celebrity culture. Turns out that I'm very interested in Rowling's version. That's what great fiction can do - take you places you didn't know you wanted to go. .
I loved the characterization of each person, the plots with it's twists and turns, and the intelligence with which it was rendered.
The plot was intriguing because many different facets of the mystery were exposed amidst the sub plots which included the personal lives of the main characters.
Each character had a different voice and it was easy to tell who was speaking even without the written clues. There was no difficulty understanding the ends of sentences like other novels I have listened to and despite the unfamiliar accents I could understand every word. The orator definitely brings a level of excitement and authenticity to the story, as if you are living inside it.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I'm going to ignore the hoopla on the author and focus on the book.
First of all, it's easy to get sucked into the story. The narrator is perfect. There are parts of this book that make you think of Jo Nesbø's writing. After a bit, it drifts into long-winded spiels that reminded me of bad student essays. Then it ends. The conclusion - don't worry, no spoilers - is so odd. It's like the author had no idea how to bring it all around with the deftness I've come to expect from Nesbø, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane and other well-regarded authors of that genre.
Would I recommend it to a friend? Probably not to someone who listens to a few books a year. There are many, many other better choices. If you're a voracious reader/listener, you may enjoy it just to experience this author as she stretches out into new territory. I'm going to give her credit for trying something so different from her past successes.
This is a new series for this author. Who would think the same author could write Harry Potter and then write something as gritty and grubby as this series. The protagonist makes you want to know more about him right from the start. He is a sympathetic character who is very smart but dumb in romance. Not unusual I guess. Anyway, Cormoran is now living in his office after breaking up with his abusive girlfriend of 12 or so years. He is contacted to look into a suicide which his client believes is murder. The story takes off from there and gives the reader a good story. It is a sophisticated storyline and the author inserts lots of references to let you know that Strike is no dummy. I like the deep voice of the narrator and his accent which adds to the strength of Cormoran. He is a big man, 6'3" and weighing 16 stone (224 pounds). The descriptions of his disability and his unusual hairiness are important to seeing him. I hope there are lots of books to follow.
The fact that Rowling wrote this book got me to listen to it. Very happy I did because it was great read. Great mystery well written and with a great narration. Only similarity between Cuckoo and Harry was the superb writing. Hope to hear more from Ms. Robert Galbraith.
My wife and I downloaded this book as our "listen" during a seven-day car trip. It was so uninteresting that the travel time seem twice as long. I was screwed as my wife is very tenacious and once she starts a book (or anything) she completes it whether she likes it or not. We both thought the book was improbable, dull and a waste of a credit (not to mention 16 hours of life.)
I'll admit it -- I didn't hear about this book until it came out that it was by J.K. Rowling. While there were aspects of the writing that evoked the voice of the author of the awesome Harry Potter books, it is otherwise a completely clean break from what she did in those (there is no magic). This is an entertaining, gripping, nicely paced mystery, with endearing, well-developed characters who find themselves rubbing elbows with unlikely others. By the end of the book, I felt like I had just gotten to know the cast of characters, and now I want to know more... so I really hope it is a long series.
A note on the narrator: absolutely fantastic. I am a sucker for an English accent, but Mr. Glenister goes above and beyond: he does all types of English accents and the various voices excellently and really brings each character to life.