OK, I know I’m late to the game on this book. But I finally got a chance to read it, and man. I was not disappointed. I ended up staying up last night to finish it. (Mind you, I read the bulk of this within the last 2-3 days.)
— Ashley Supinski (@ashleysupinski) May 30, 2016
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Mulholland Books, 2013
What It’s About:
Cormoran Strike, a private detective, is hired to find out the truth behind supermodel Lula Landy’s apparent suicide. Strike, at first, doesn’t believe it’s anything other than suicide, takes the job when he’s offered twice his rate because he’s hard-up for money and in debt.
As the story progresses, Strike begins to put puzzle pieces together and, ultimately, figures out the truth behind Landry’s death (murder).
The story is told in alternating perspectives. While most of the narrative focuses on Strike, Galbraith (I’m not referring to Rowling, since she published under a pen name) also weaves in Robin’s perspective at times. (This is important, see below.) Robin is a temporary assistant that comes to work for Strike at the beginning of the novel, but ends up staying on (temporarily) until the case is over.
The story focuses on the rich and elite and fashion-famous people of London, England. At heart, though, it’s an extremely well-told mystery and detective story.
What I Thought:
I’m not sure I can be completely cohesive in my response. Mostly, because I loved it so, so hard. If this book were a person, I’d be like this:
So, I’ll try to break it down for you. But I will say this. If you’re like me, and have waited 3 years to actually read this novel, you need to go out right now and get it. RIGHT NOW.
Get it? Good. Now read it, then come back and read my review.
The Narrative: It’s an extremely well-told story. I can’t stress that enough. And what really got me (in a good way!) was that I had no idea who the killer was. None. Usually, I can guess about half-way through, or at least about 50 pages from the reveal. Not this time. Seriously. NO IDEA. When it was revealed, I was like this:
It was, though, such a satisfying ending. Galbraith wove everything together in nice little braids that made sense for the writer.
Part of why I think the narrative was so tight was the use of dual POVs, through Strike and Robin. While Strike is mysterious and secretive, Galbraith tends to flick to Robin’s POV to keep the reader even more in the dark about anything Strike finds out to lead to the real killer.
And really, this is a 450+ page book, but there’s nothing in the story that shouldn’t be there. Everything is relevant and has a proper place within the story. (As a writer, I am super curious how long the original manuscript was and how much she [Rowling] cut from it to make it so tight.)
The Characters: I love Strike. He’s so broken and bruised and I just wanted to take him out for a beer and let him get drunk and cry all over me.
Galbraith did an amazing job of creating satisfying backstory for Strike and weaving it through the story without throwing it at the reader without reason. In fact, the reader doesn’t learn why Strike left his fiancee, Charlotte, until about 30+ pages into the story. (It might even be longer than that…) Also, the fact that Strike is the bastard son of rocker, Johnny Rokeby, works to his favor with the storyline and the mingling of the rich and famous.
I also love Robin. She reminds me a lot of me. That naive excitement, but then that compassion and appreciation for Strike. I won’t lie — I hope she and Matthew break up and she gets together with Strike. ;)
From the reviews I’ve read, they relate this to the original hard-boiled detective stories. While I’m not completely familiar with them, I’d have to agree. It’s got that noir feeling to it.
I’ll definitely be moving onto book 2, The Silkworm, at some point in the future. I need more Strike in my life!
I apologize if this was complete rubbish and hard to read/follow. It seems the books I love the most are always the hardest ones to review…