The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: his sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
©2013 Robert Galbraith (P)2013 Hachette Audio
So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
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
Say something about yourself!
I might have passed this wonderful story by (like many other's probably) had I not found out who the author was--and so glad I did.
The two main characters, P.I. Strike, and office temp Robin, play off each other beautifully. A winning combination of characters moves this story along so well, I hated to see it end.
Lula, supermodel with an unusual (to say the least) family history, is dead when the book starts. One of her brother's begs Strike to take the case, as the police have all but closed the book on it, assuming it is a suicide. But is it? Did she jump from her apartment building, or was she pushed? P.I. Strike is persistent and clever in figuring it all out.
Rowling is brilliant in her remarkable ability to leave the Potter stories behind, and go forward with a completely different writing style. I look forward to her next surprise.
This book was too slow paced for me. I found myself dreading the start of a new scene as it would be endless description of every irrelevant detail of the scene, down to the dandruff on the medical examiner's coat. If you like a lot of flair and artistic scene setting, this may be the book for you. However, if you want a plot that moves along without telling you how worn the carpet is, or what color shoe laces a passer by has, this would not be the book for you.
The performer of this book was fantastic.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
What a pleasant and interesting surprise The Cuckoo's Calling was! I'm not a mystery reader at all, had never heard of Robert Galbraith, and didn't have much interest in reading about the investigation of a super model's possible suicide, so I honestly would never had picked this up if it hadn't been for the J.K. Rowling kerfuffle. She has introduced a compelling and genuinely human private investigator in the form of Cormoran Strike, his temporary secretary Robin Ellacott, along with a well-plotted mystery. I wanted to keep reading to see whodunit, but also because the book was well-written; I can see shades of the same excellent plotting I admired in Harry Potter. I hope she had fun writing inventive characters' names because I certainly had fun reading them, along with the engaging story. I will avidly look forward to further installments in the Cormoran Strike series!
A fascinating crime thriller with a lot of heart between the lines. I loved the characters in this novel. I enjoyed that the two main protagonist found their nitch in life, just as the author has seemingly once again found hers. After that last clunker that she penned, I couldn’t be happier for her success with this novel.
I found this interesting story to believable, current and simplistically straight forward. The story hooked me from the beginning – and right up to the very end I was surprised at the ending. For me it was most refreshing that the author left it as simply. No one needed any big title or badge. It was two people with a good working relationship. No one needed to get hot and heavy or be best friends.
Robert Glenister reading this is just like adding cream.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
There is little I can say about this book, other than to second what other reviewers have said. A really fun mystery set in current day London, involving a somewhat seedy, rumpled, huge detective (sort of a Sam Spade/Columbo/Hagrid cross) whose agency is about to go under, taking on a case involving people in the high-flying world of top-flight fashion models.
The plot is ingenious, and Galbraith (Rowling) creates wonderfully detailed and quirky characters. The result is an interesting mystery which keeps the reader guessing, and lots of funny moments of dialog. A really enjoyable read.
I have to admit that I listed to the book because I am a hardcore HP fan. This isnt really my genre of book but it was so well done and had my guessing to the end. Thank you JKR for this magical read and hope she decides to write more books about The Wizarding World in the future too!
Strike of course
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 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. .
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