Originally The Cuckoo’s Calling was supposed to be an experiment to see how well a catchy well-written mystery from a new author would sell and be read, but when someone in the know told the wrong person, the story broke out that Robert Galbraith was in fact a pseudonym for an author named J. K. Rowling. Rowling wasn’t happy about this, and someone probably lost their job over it, but the secret is out and sales for the mystery immediately went through the roof. Nevertheless, The Cuckoo’s Calling is a great example of what a good mystery is and shows Rowling’s breadth as the talented writer she is.
Cormoran Strike lost his leg in Afghanistan and is now a private detective who doesn’t really have any cases, has a lot of debt, and the love of his life just left him. He’s in a bad place and not sure where to go next. He gets a new secretary from the temp agency, who he can’t really afford, but she seems nice and he can’t say no to her at first.
Then John Bristow walks into his office who knows of him through a family connection. His sister, the rich supermodel, Lula Landry, known to her friends as Cuckoo, plunged to her death from her penthouse apartment months ago. The police ruled it a suicide, but Bristow doesn’t believe them. So he hires Strike to find out if she was murdered and who did it.
Strike may be in dire straits with a lot of things, and may not have much respect amongst his friends and family, as well as anyone else who knows of him, but he is a good detective. And with the help of his new secretary who quickly becomes fascinated by the work, they slowly put the pieces together and find out way more than they bargained for.
Rowling does a great job of writing a compelling novel in the style of Agatha Christie but with a good modern feel. The reader is kept hooked, wondering on the full story and who’s behind it all until the very end. The book is also listed as the first of the Strike series, so presumably Rowling will be penning more of these mysteries, and fans will no doubt be delighted.
Originally written on September 27, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.
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