Cormoran Strike is a brave new antihero, a deliciously complex character fully fleshed by Robert Galbraith. Strike is a huge, oversize ex-military amputee, the bastard son of a rock-n-roll icon, freshly split from his beautiful cruel fiance, and barely making ends meet as a private dick in central London. The dialogue is extraordinary, and most of the book is just that...perfectly pitched and accented back and forth between dubious, persistent Strike, and each crisply formed character, of which there are many. This is the best dialogue writing since Elmore Leonard and Lawrence Block. The Cuckoo's Calling introduces readers to a small gang of hopefully regular characters: pretty, efficient, intuitive Robin, Strike's secretary; the handsome helpful cop; the as-yet-unseen celebrity sire.
Other reviews have fully described the plot around the alleged suicide of Supermodel Lula Landry, who fell to her death from her penthouse flat onto a snow-covered Mayfair pavement in the small hours of a winter morning. I have to admit, I rarely miss my guess as to who the murderer is in mysteries, but I was wrong this time. Part of the classic nature of the book is the dangerous final confrontation between Strike and the killer, when Strike has the chance to lay out in detail how he solved the intricate and knotty puzzle, all while the shadowy villain denies, denies, denies, and attacks. Usually the need to deliver the solution irritates me, but Galbraith smoothly sets up its necessity, and by that time, I really need to hear it, too!
The closest in tone and excellence to this new detective series is Lawrence Block's long-time protagonist, Matthew Scudder, a cool skeptical recovering alcoholic private eye in Manhattan.
Glenister's narration is first rate. The perfect voice for Cormoran Strike, and the delivery of all the other characters is superb. He's nailed each accent and the social strata of the characters simply oozes from his voice.
This is a book to savor, and listen to with attention. In the beginning, I would play it while I was cooking, or doing house chores. But soon I found I really wanted to pay attention, and enjoyed it best sitting in my armchair with a nice cup 'a tea!
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