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
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
SET REVIEWS TO BE SORTED BY 'MOST RECENT' INSTEAD OF 'MOST HELPFUL'!
Within minutes of beginning this page-turner, I was hooked! Rowling's prose here is flawless (much better than in Harry Potter series), her characters richly drawn and interesting, and the plot riveting. I couldn't wait to discover what would happen next, and the final revelations were NOT what I had suspected and anticipated, so the ending, while believable, was a complete surprise. Grade: A+. Bechdel test: Pass, I think (if Robin's conversation with a shopgirl about clothing counts). I'm beginning the next volume in the series as soon as possible.
So I guess I am the only person who didn't know this was JK Rowling! I was really surprised how engrossing, intelligent, yet entertaining it was. I binge listened in one weekend and was guessing right to the end! If you're a fan of GOOD mystery, and you sick of all the genre schlock that get 5 star ratings even though it's crap, you'll really, really enjoy this :)
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.
Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.
Excessive unnecessary details, too much description that is ordinary, not vivid, and the plot drags along so that I wished the story was a long short story or novella rather than its present length. The main character is interesting, as are one or two other persons....but the book is loaded with so many people who pop in and out that you had better keep an alphabetical list to remember them....or maybe you should just ignore them once you figure out who is important to the story...which is not easy the first half of the book. The author's style seems to be that of a first-time novelist....as I said but must repeat: wordy wordy wordy. Were the reputed author not JKR, this book would not have been published. And I do wonder if JKR did write it or if she is boosting someone else's effort to break in to publishing...but if JKR is doing that, did she even READ the book?
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
Cormoran Strike is the aptly named detective/hero of Robert Galbraith's debut novel "The Cuckoo's Calling" (2013). 'Comoran' is a giant of Cornish legend, and Galbraith's investigator is both physically and mentally huge. Strike is also wounded - he lost part of a leg in Afghanistan, and jettisons a fiancé at the beginning of the book.
Strike inadvertently finds a Temporary Solution in Robin Ellacott, an amazingly tactful and resourceful transplant to London. Her first day of work, Robin ushers in a rabbity John Bristow, the brother of Strike's childhood friend, Charlie. Bristow's sister, supermodel Lula Landry, died months before after falling from a balcony in the upscale high security building she lived in, and Bristow doesn't believe it was a suicide.
Strike and Robin investigate in modern day London, from free rehab clinics and homeless shelters to the top homes and boutiques of London's titled class.
I loved the British English - 'crisps' sounds so much more elegant than 'potato chips'; 'bog' is definitely more descriptive for a bathroom in a pub; and who doesn't like 'mobile' instead of 'cell phone'? Some of it mystified me - 'pork scratchings' turned out to be 'pork rinds' if you live most of the United States, and chicharrones if you live in California; and 'digestives' are biscuits. What really through me was 'Electric Lane'. It took some Google research and an inquiry to an ex-pat friend to figure out it was an actual street name, not special parking for hybrid electric cars. These detours made the book more enjoyable for me, especially since Robert Glenister's narration gave me the pronunciations.
The "who dunnit" was well plotted, and the answer was never easy.
I am aware, of course, that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowlings, but I'm respecting her choice to write under another name. "The Cuckoo's Calling" is a different genre than the "Harry Potter" series, and Galbraith's language and descriptions are very different than those in Rowling's "Harry Potter." Galbraith is a more mature writer. I hope this is a 'Cormoran Strike #1.'
I'd also like to give props to my fellow Audible reviewers Tracey of Danville, AR and Deborah of Burbank, CA who found this Audible book and loved it before the secret author was revealed. I'm following both of them now, hoping that I won't miss any more gems like "The Cuckoo's Calling" just because I haven't heard of the author.
[The title of this review is from a line in this book. If you found this review helpful please let me know by pressing 'helpful.' Thanks!]
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!
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Everything works. J.K. Rowling is a master craftswoman. Each plot-part locks tautly with its mates. The whodunnit's plotted tighter than a CD wrap. OKAY, it's cinematic. Uh-huh the characters are tailored to fit Hollywood's best character actors. Or maybe Britain's. But so what? And yeah, Cormoran Strike, a rugged, 6' 3", one-leged war hero turned PI, might be a bit of stretch for most of filmdom's munchkin leading men (Oh I hope that Tom Cruise doesn't buy the rights then surround himself with all the little-people who played Hobbits).
But look, I buy mystery stories for entertainment. Rowling's as entertaining a writer as any who's working in the genre and I cannot wait to get The Silkworm to hear Robert Glenister bring this ensemble back to life.
Thank you Ms. Rowling for bringing your perfect craftswomanship here to the mystery-lover's space.
Report Inappropriate Content