A somewhat late review, considering I first cracked opened ‘Robert Galbraith’s’ when I was in Europe. Actually, just after I left London. But nevertheless, I thought I’d share my thoughts, because even though J. K. Rowling has decided to write under a different name (more credit to her), it’s still a novel written by the woman who dreamed up Harry Potter. So really, I’m just doing what is expected of me as a book fiend, no?
The Cuckoo’s Calling is a crime novel centred around down-on-his-luck private detective, Cormoran Strike, who has been hired by wealthy lawyer John Bristow, to investigate into the suspicious death of his sister, Lula Landry. Not only is it going to be hard work for Strike since all evidence points to Landry killing herself, but also because Lula Landry was a multi-millionaire supermodel. Hello pressure.
Add into the mix a new receptionist who has always had an urge to be a P.I., a mixed race adopted girl who has always wanted to discover her true parents, and a batty mother and you have The Cuckoo’s Calling. Well, all that and a bunch of detective work.
In terms of writing, The Cuckoo’s Calling is of relatively high quality; crisp and with a typical British dry sense of humour thrown in the mix. Rowling (writing it as Galbraith is sure to confuse me) does a good job of introducing different characters, and multiple plot threads, most of which come together at the crux of the novel, when we discover who killed Landry, and why.
However, though in theory I should of enjoyed this book, as it had all the makings of a good novel; crime plot, well-known writer, English humour, it didn’t particularly absorb me until the final few chapters.
For example, I wasn’t a big fan of any of the characters. Strike, a war veteran, routinely came across as cranky, gruff and hard-to-please. I kept forgetting that he was only meant to be in his mid-thirties. Then there was Robyn, who seemed a young, capable and relatively bright young woman, but apparently had a bit of a douche-bag of a fiancee, who thought it was acceptable to continually degrade both her aspirations and boss. Um, not cool.
Secondly, although the ending did come together nicely, I also thought that the culprit, while unexpected, was also a pretty ridiculous choice as a murderer. Obviously, I don’t want to spoil it for any readers out there, but I personally just couldn’t really find it believable that they were the killer after all.
Lastly, though it was well-written, I thought at times that the storyline floundered and didn’t really go anywhere. There were numerous chapters where I became disinterested and couldn’t really see the point of the characters or the plot lines, and while they did make sense in the end, I felt that many readers might have given up by that point out of sheer boredom.
Overall, it’s a good, but not great, novel. Honestly, I do feel Rowling has it a bit tough, considering she has to compete against the biggest-selling author of all time – herself – whenever she writes something new (which explains the pseudonym), so if you’re planning on reading this book and have massive expectations, please, give her a bit of a break.
Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling? What did you think? Do you think that Rowling is growing as an author, or that she should stick to fantasy? Let me know!