The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's CallingCormoran Strike – an unusual name choice for Galbraith’s new crime fiction hero, but at least it avoids any character confusion that may ensue along the way. It’s also unlikely that Strike’s physical appearance could be mistaken for anybody else’s either. It’s like Galbraith went out of his way to make Cormoran as strikingly (pardon the pun) different as possible to make him stand out in spectacular fashion in an already saturated crowd of battered crime solvers. He reminds me of Jeremy Clarkson – not in the least bit attractive, but surprisingly proficient at pulling the birds. A massive man, with only one leg, a face like a boxing Beethoven, and tight, curly, cropped, black hair (it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what his nick name was in school), Cormoran is oddly appealing.

When I first started getting to know Cormoran, the parallels between him and Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently seemed a little too obvious and annoying. The personality quirks, the unkempt office and the continuous recycling of secretaries were all a bit too reminiscent. The more I read, though, the more Strike came into his own, and he turned out to be a character I would certainly enjoy reading more of in the future novels Galbraith will undoubtedly produce.

One confounding aspect of this book, though, is that J. K. Rowling went to the trouble of assuming a pseudonym to write it. One of the worst-kept secrets of the day, everyone I’ve talked to is referring to it as the latest J. K. Rowling book – we all know it’s her. So, maybe her last book wasn’t great, but what the heck?!? Admittedly, detaching yourself and moving forward from all that is Harry Potter must be a complete nightmare. No wonder Rowling has gone all out to purge herself of any stereotypes connected with her Potter days: The Cuckoo’s Calling is definitely not a book for the kiddies.

So, has Rowling been successful? Yes she has. Although she will forever be the author of Harry Potter, The Cuckoo’s Calling is the commencement of an entirely new series involving a new main character we will undoubtedly all become addicted to. Cormoran is a private investigator employed by John Bristow to investigate the death of his adopted sister, Lula Landry. Lula is a supermodel who supposedly commits suicide by jumping off her apartment balcony. John is not convinced it’s a suicide, though, and he begs Cormoran to work at getting to the bottom of things. Highly reluctant to do so, but in dire need of some serious cash, Cormoran gradually builds his case, and with the help of Robin, his temporary, but clever and endearing secretary, he gets it all worked out. It’s a case of anyone could have done it, which is good writing as far as I’m concerned, and Galbraith keeps us guessing pretty close right up to the end.


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