Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling Review

Writer: Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)

I have to admit I probably would never have bought this book if it wasn't revealed to have been written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, as well as the fact that it's a crime novel (as I didn't get her last novel, the Casual Vacancy due to it's plot, and genre not appealing to me).


After model, Lula Landry supposedly commits suicide, her lawyer brother hires private detective, Cormoran Strike to investigate it, believing it to be murder instead of suicide.


This was a fantastic book, and one of the most realistic crime novels that I've read in a good while. Now first of all I'll get the whole J.K. Rowling being the actual writer of this book out of the way. If I'm being honest if I didn't know that she was the true writer of this novel I'd probably have never noticed the similarities to her work, but cause I do I noticed a very similar writing style, as although the book is very different to the Harry Potter novels, there were similarities in the writing style. The main thing as I said that I liked about this book was the realism of it, as there are a lot of crime novels that feel all Hollywood like, and unrealistic in the normal world, whereas this feels very natural. It was also very gritty, which helped make it much more realistic, as well as dynamic. Besides the realism, the depth of character was probably the next best thing about this novel, as everyone had such unique, and interesting personalities that were described perfectly. The book was however not perfect, as due to the realism it lacked action, which meant it also lacked in excitement, as although the dramatic, and suspenseful tone of the story kept me gripped, the lack of excitement was a little disappointing, hurting the overall quality. I would however also add that this has quite a bit of bad language, as well as the odd sexual reference, meaning that it's definitely for adults, and not children who love Harry Potter, and magic.

The main character in this novel is a private detective named Cormoran Strike, who used to be in the army until he lost half a leg to a land mine. Strike is also the illegitimate son to a famous musician named Jonny Rockeby, with life not being too kind to him, being heavily in debt, as well as splitting from his fiancée. Overall I found Strike to be a very interesting, and deep character, with a lot to him that doesn't initially show. I liked that he was a determined, and strong person, who didn't let his disability defeat him, as well as his debt. I also found it interesting that in some ways Strike is an underdog, as with all his problems it's easy to feel sorry for him, and it wouldn't be surprising if things got worse. He is also however not the typical underdog that you'd want to root for, as there are quite a few unpleasant parts to him, and you probably wouldn't want to be associated with him. There is however a lot more to this character, as you can tell he's a good hearted person, but also a proud, and strong person, which made him very interesting.

Strike would also have a temp working for him as a secretary throughout this story, named Robin Ellacott. Now we are actually introduced to Robin first, and the main focus on her as a character is her growing working relationship with Strike, as well as how she grows as a character, from a timid character who's just got engaged, to someone who want's to help Strike as much as she can. This was what I liked about Robin the most, as it gave so much depth to her as a character, as she is very judgemental of Strike to start with (with a good reason to be), but learns that he's a very misunderstood person, who doesn't show his proper emotions on the outside. I also loved how Robin would have quick shifts in expressions, as she'd go from being very excited, and happy one minute, to possibly being uncomfortable, and worried the next due to changes in circumstances, and overall she was yet another very interesting character.

The main subject of this story was the suspicious suicide of Lula Landry, and how Strike would prove whether it was murder or not. I loved the way this mystery unravelled as the story progressed, and how Strike found out more and more about this troubled young star. I also found the process that Strike went through to be very interesting, and realistic, as although I felt that some points were unnecessary to the overall story, it helped to keep the realism, as well as the tension, and suspense. I also found the way that Lula's brother, John Bristow hired Strike to be very interesting, and dramatic, as it showed that everyone (even Strike at that point) accepted the fact that it was suicide, and how Bristow was upset to be the only one to think otherwise, adding lots of tension, and overall it was a very intriguing mystery.

There was also a long list of supporting character's in this story, being formed by friends, colleges, and acquaintances of Lula, witnesses to the supposed suicide, as well as other miscellaneous character's. These character's were mainly introduced as people that Strike wanted to interview to either understand the circumstances of Lula's death, as well as her state of mind leading up to the supposed suicide. The way that Strike went about his interviews was very realistic, and yet again interesting, and I loved how he thought of things that most people wouldn't connect with the situation. The character's that Strike interviewed also had very different characteristics, and personalities, giving a variety of character's, and enjoyed how that even if the character lasted a few pages in the story, that they were very well thought out, with a lot of depth, which also added dynamic as well as more realism, and uniqueness.

Besides all this I also enjoyed all the different locations, as well as the world events references (which included then Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling a voter a, "bigot"). The little pieces of excitement was also appealing, as well as the fact that the story was versatile, having sudden changes in direction, which helped with the story's progress, as well as keeping the reader interested.

Final Verdict

This was a fantastic novel, and although I only bought this due to the revelation that J.K. Rowling wrote it under a pseudonym, I'm glad that I did. It was very entertaining throughout, as although it lacked in excitement, and action, it more than made up for with it's gritty, and realistic tone. It also had brilliant character's, both main, and supporting, who all had brilliant depth, and overall this was a brilliant read that I'd highly recommend to anyone who loves a good crime novel.

Rating: 4/5