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.
The protagonist, Cormoran Strike, is an ex-military policeman who lost a leg during service and is now trying to make ends meet as a PI in London. His "girl Friday", a temporary secretary named Robin whom he can't afford (but can't seem to turn away) arrives on a day his life's ebb hits a low point. I loved the rapport between these 2 characters.
I can't overstate how much I enjoyed this novel. One would never know by the lyrical writing, the twisty plot line and well-developed characters that this is a debut for Robert Galbraith.
My only disappoint is that the book ended and I didn't have anything else by Galbraith to read! I anxiously await his next book, which I hope continues Strikes' story.
Robert Glenister's narration is perfect!
237 of 256 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I never review--but I found this book by Robert Galbraith and found it terrific in every way. If you want excellent characters, a sharp, believable mystery, perfect pacing--go for it. After finishing it I immediately went to see what else Galbraith had written. This is his first, and Glenister did the perfect job. I am gushing. Sorry. But I loved the book. Title doesn't do it justice. I hope Galbraith is busy with his next.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
Always interesting, always well paced--just good.
140 of 158 people found this review helpful
So I have never noticed this book before I found out that it was written by JK Rowling. But still I have never read her work before, but when i read the summary of the book, and understood that it is not a young reader book, i went for it. I was AMAZED!!!!
This book is a mystery book based in London, and the case which is being investigated is very interesting. I was listening to the book non stop until i finished it, such a great story and so many twists through the whole book. And when I reached the ending I was shocked of the answer and couldn't believe it. Such a good ending for a great book. The characters are well developed and you can feel that each one has their own story and life which they are going through. Every time i thought the book came to its ending I find that still couple of hours left. Nothing better than a book which you are not looking forward to reach its ending from its quality.
Lets talk about the narration here, the narrator Robert Glenister did a fantastic job with this book. His narration gave life to the characters and made it simple to know which character you are listening to., such a good job with the narration.
Looking forward for the next book, don't be late
130 of 150 people found this review helpful
I admit that I bumped up this in my listening cue only after the author was revealed, but I'm glad I did. What Rowling did with the traditional Brit novel of manners in Casual Vacancy, she now does for the traditional Brit detective formula, but with a detective in almost stereotyped US classic noir circumstance (although a leg wound from Afghanistan is a nice nod to the Brit tradition and situation). There is a sort-of-dark male lead character with hints of a mysterious past who has a prickly relationship with a new, younger perkier female sidekick. Rowling enlivens both the formula characters and genre conventions. The dialogue is good - livelier than most UK crime fiction but not "screenplay" like some North American.
The world of celebrity doesn't interest me but the fictional world of London crime, created by generations of crime authors, does. This is not a masterpiece but highly enjoyable, and isn't "enjoyable" the gift that Rowling brings to adult fiction?
If you enjoyed Casual Vacancy and traditional Brit detectives, you'll love this. Like most Brit detectives, this is PG listening -- but I'd still not give it to the kids -- content is similar in tone to Casual Vacancy. I felt cheated that I did not have Harry Potter when growing up, so perhaps Rowling will now create a detective series for my generation.
99 of 117 people found this review helpful
If you tried Casual Vacancy and that makes you reluctant to try JKR’s newest adult offering, this one line from the story should make you change your mind! Unlike the depressing, vacant, jaded pacifism so common throughout CV, The Cuckoo’s Calling is filled with vibrant and engaging characters, exciting story lines and yes, OPTIMISM!
The central character is Cormoran Strike- Private Investigator, Afghan war veteran, lower leg amputee who had a peripatetic (my new favorite word!) childhood and a love life that screams trouble. He has an appealing new sidekick named Robin: a short term temp who lucks into a gig that fulfills her childhood dream of solving crimes and making a difference. While the plot is intriguing, the best part about the book is the characters. They are rich, detailed and fascinating! You'll want to get to know Cormoran! You would even agree to be in Robin's upcoming wedding- even though being a bridesmaid- especially in one ups-man-land London- would be a nightmare!
The criminal story line starts out dramatic and quick- engrossing you completely from the first chapter. It quickly evolves into a complicated Gordian knot of twists, lies and secrets.
This novel feels very British, but not so London-y like Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series. It is nice to read a book that covers aspects of the glam life without being enamored of it.
In many ways this series feels to me like a British Jack Reacher. Not as violent! As Rowling makes a point of mentioning even the police don't carry guns and that Corm had to give his guns back when he stopped being a soldier. I do hope she writes as many books for Strike as their have been for Reacher. I want to know so much more about his past and future!!
70 of 83 people found this review helpful
I must admit when I read the summary of this book I was like "ehhh, I guess I'll give it a try". I was pulled in almost immediately and never wanted to put it down until the end. I was completely impressed. This story was gripping and the characters rich and intriguing. I LOVED this book and it is one of my favorites of the year. By the way, not to ignore the performance - the reader was excellent. I had never heard one of his performances before but I will look for him again. The subtle differences in English accents were excellently performed so that each character was vivid and believable. The pacing was nice too.
60 of 72 people found this review helpful
I have been fortunate to discover many top rated mystery/ thrillers on Audible. This one ranks up there with the best of them. It's well written, well read, and a really smart mystery.
However, it's the two main characters that make this book so special for me. Cormeran Strike, a broke detective, former war hero with one leg is smart, brooding, humorous and resourceful. But aren't there a lot of peculiar and great detective characters out there already? Of course, but what sets him apart is the synergy between he and his temporary secretary Robin. She's efficient, sensitive, and equally resourceful. Her curiosity and eagerness to learn detective work stands in the way of a more lucrative career, not to mention her relationship with her fiancé.
Virtually every modern author and critic has hailed the Harry Potter series the best work of fiction since Lord of the Rings. All I can say about this effort by JK Rowland is, "there she goes again!"
45 of 56 people found this review helpful
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.
50 of 64 people found this review helpful
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
80 of 108 people found this review helpful
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!]
40 of 55 people found this review helpful