- Published: April 2013
- Publisher: Sphere Books (Little, Brown & Company)
- Genre: Crime Fiction/Mystery
- Pages in Hardback: 455 Pages
- Quote: “How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.” —Source
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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 the 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. —Source
Review of the Characters:
Cormoran Strike— If you need an example of Rowling’s amazing ability of writing three-dimensional characters (and you’re one of the few souls who hasn’t read Harry Potter) then look no further. Cormoran Strike is but one example of this; a wounded war veteran who is down on his luck is presented with a case that could change his life. He reminded me of John Watson— that same type of character that chooses not to air out his troubles and seems to know exactly what to say.
“Other people his age had houses and washing machines, cars and television sets, furniture and gardens and mountain bikes and lawnmowers: he had four boxes of crap and a set of matchless memories.” —Source
He was endearing while still remaining flawed. Cormoran Strike is a detective that will quickly sit along the greats.
Robin Venetia Ellacott-– I really enjoyed Robin. She held her ground and stood on equal leveling with Cormoran. Throughout the novel her fiance shows his disapproval of her new job but she sticks with it anyway. You can’t help but admire a girl going after her dream. I can’t wait to see how Cormoran and Robin develop throughout the series.
“Robin was disposed to feel desperately sorry for anyone with a less fortunate love life than her own– if desperate pity could describe the exquisite pleasure she actually felt at the thought of her own comparative paradise.” —Source
We actually get to see Robin grow as a person and discover her self-worth. In the beginning the center of her life revolves around a relationship but over the course of the novel, that focus switches to her job. It was exciting to root for her.
Review of the Story:
This novel definitely stands out from today’s mysteries in the sense that there’s no sudden twists or high action sequences. The Cuckoo’s Calling is a slow developer and told in a rather formal manner, reminding one of the old mystery tales like Sherlock Holmes and those by Agatha Cristie.
“In the inverted food chain of fame, it was the big beasts who were stalked and hunted.” —Source
I do believe that J.K. Rowling attempts to refer to her own experience with fame. She shows us the ugly side, allowing the reader to sympathize with those who would initially inspire an envious reaction.
“He had never been able to understand the assumption of intimacy fans felt with those they had never met.” —Source
Because the story is slow to unfold it will not suit everyone’s taste when it comes to mysteries, however Rowling does a great job of keeping it entertaining all the way through; cleverly untangling webs at exactly the right time.
Review of the Writing:
As mentioned before Rowling uses a formal tone throughout the novel, which is rather atypical of the mystery genre. What is usually fast paced and full of suspense is instead a slow walk as things unravel at their own pace. I found it refreshing but I know other will struggle with it.
“But the lies she told were woven into the fabric of her being, her life; so that to live with her and love her was to become slowly meshed by them, to wrestle her for the truth, to struggle to maintain foothold on reality.” —Source
This formal tone almost creates an unemotional narrator, as if we were watching this play out from a bird’s-eye point of view merely glimpsing below us but never really experiencing what the characters were feeling. While this concept may not have worked in other books it worked in The Cuckoo’s Calling, keeping the mystery all the more alive.
Rowling has proven that she is not a one hit wonder with The Cuckoo’s Calling. In this novel you’ll find a mystery that not only entertains and surprises but also stands out from the pack. This is a series that will soon turn into a franchise for all the right reasons.
P.S.– My next read is Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
PLEASE NOTE FOR NOVEL SCRAMBLE HINT:
To give you a sense on how I will hide the puzzle pieces for Novel Scramble, I will explain how I hid this puzzle piece. Write down every bold letter in this review and it will spell out:
“A ring evil to many and precious to some lies on the ground waiting to be picked up.”
This will not be the only technique I use to hide puzzle pieces but now you should have an idea on how to look for them. This will be the only time I give any kind of hint for a puzzle piece. Good luck finding the next three!