Okay, fine, I’ll admit it: I picked up The Cuckoo’s Calling because I found out (along with the rest of the world) that it was the newest offering from J.K. Rowling.
“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 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.”
Despite constantly hearing about it, I actually didn’t know what it was about until I started reading it (I didn’t bother looking at the synopsis because not reading it wasn’t really an option – even though I did wait until earlier this month to actually buy the thing). Of course, that worked to my advantage because then I went into it completely blind with no preconceptions (except the Harry Potter-loving part of my brain that was yelling “It has to be better than The Casual Vacancy, right? RIGHT?” For the record, TCV wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read – it was just incredibly depressing, but compelling enough that I wanted to know how it ended, even though I didn’t like any of the characters…but that’s a rant for a different post).
ANYWAY: I haven’t read a lot of mysteries so I don’t really have a solid basis for determining how well it does in its particular genre. Knowing that it’s JKR, I think I can recognize her style and way with words, but I can’t break it down for you so I’m probably just imagining it.
I don’t know how to talk about it without spoiling all the plot points so I’ll just say these two things:
1) I’m not sure what direction she wants to take the Cormoran-Robin relationship but since I keep imagining him as a crotchety old man (he’s supposed to be in his mid to late thirties), it’s weirding me out a little bit (I also don’t know why there always has to be sexual tension between the detective and his lady partner – which is why Ro and I are plotting out a series about a gay cop and his lady partner so you KNOW they’re not going to get together at any point. I can’t say she won’t hook up with his brother though…).
2) I get that at some point in a mystery, you have to have the Big Reveal, the moment when the detective painstakingly lists all the clues that led him down the path of finding out whodunnit – but one thing I’ve always admired about JKR is her ability to tie all the little details together. The details that you skimmed over, the plot points that you thought were just space-fillers, the moments that you knew were somehow connected to the murder but you couldn’t figure out how/why – bringing them all together in a way that makes sense takes skill. I think her writing really shines in the end when Cormoran is summarizing the case. I don’t know how I felt about who the murderer was, but it was still intriguing. The book definitely hit a point where I didn’t want to be disturbed for any reason because I just needed to find out where it was all leading to (apologies to Ro/my dad who asked me to pass them the candy jar and were instead treated to me yelling “I’M AT A VERY CRITICAL POINT, WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT?”)
I will for sure be reading the sequel – The Silkworm – though again, I haven’t read the synopsis yet. I’m also going to wait to buy it in paperback, so I think I have time to mull over how I felt about The Cuckoo’s Calling before diving back into “Robert Galbraith’s” imagination.