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
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 admit I bought the book because it was written by J.K. Rowling - but that's the end of anything Potter-ish in this delightful new mystery. I love a good British mystery because they tend to be less violent and more intellectual than many of the standard American mysteries. The Cuckoo's Calling has everything in it that makes a mystery worth reading - an interesting main character who is neither perfect nor pathetic, a smart sidekick who thank god does NOT need to be rescued in the final scenes, a lot of clues but no dead give away to the final resolution, and supporting characters who are not simply two dimensional backdrops. No dramatic chase scenes or gun battles - just solid detecting and some intriguing plot twists along the way.
The narration was perfect and captured the voices in a way that was believable and engrossing. I had a hard time putting the book down to get any work done, and when the story ended I could only hope that Rowling/Galbraith is working on the next Comorant Strike mystery. Whether you're a J.K. Rowling fan or not really doesn't matter - if you like a good mystery, this is the best one to come along in a long time!
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
I care less about who wrote this book than the quality of the book itself. And this one is a winner. The story kept my interest throughout. It was culturally relevant; the audio version of a page turner. We felt as if we knew the main character LuLu even though she was dead from the beginning. Lulu the supermodel and her entourage made for interesting characters who were entwined in a mystery focused on Lulu's untimely death. This book has humor, pathos, irony and intrigue. I would have liked to give the narrator 5 stars but because his Jamaican accent was so awful I had to hold back one star. Otherwise the narrator did a superb job. Overall a really good read.
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.
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
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 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.
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 think I would have enjoyed this just as much if I hadn't known that Galbraith is a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling. I really liked the characters of Strike and his assistant Robin (my name!).There were a lot of other characters and details but the story seemed organic and clues were naturally dropped into the story. The narration was outstanding, keeping the many characters' voices distinctive. The milieu was gritty without being depressing or harrowing, and the contrast between the rich and famous and the rest of the world is clearly drawn. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. I'm also looking up to see what else Robert Glenister has narrated!
When I read The Silkworm, also by Robert Galbraith, I did not realize that the name was a pseudonym for JK Rowling, but I enjoyed it and gave it a favorable review. When I did discover that fact while reading the blurbs for The Cuckoo's Calling, I had to smile. The first and only Harry Potter book I ever read (first story) came across to me as slightly dull, and had I known the actual author of the Robert Galbraith books, I would have skipped them. That would have been my loss, as The Cuckoo's Calling is even better than The Silkworm.
Way to go, JK!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.