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The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) Paperback – April 29, 2014
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London PI Cormoran Strike’s final feud with his arguably insane fiancée leaves him camping in his office, wondering how his last two clients will keep him afloat and pay for his new secretary, Robin. When a childhood acquaintance asks him to investigate his supermodel sister’s apparent suicide, Strike finds a distraction from his problems that’s happily attached to a check. Lula Landry was surrounded by rabid paparazzi, a drug-addled social circle, a dysfunctional adopted family, and a shifty, newly found birth mother, making suicidal despair hard to dismiss. But with Robin’s surprisingly adept assistance, Strike dismantles witness statements, applying masterful deductive skills to find evidence of murder. This debut is instantly absorbing, featuring a detective facing crumbling circumstances with resolve instead of clichéd self-destruction and a lovable sidekick with contagious enthusiasm for detection. Galbraith nimbly sidesteps celebrity superficiality, instead exploring the ugly truths in Lula’s six degrees of separation. Strike bears little resemblance to Jackson Brodie, but Kate Atkinson’s fans will appreciate his reliance on deduction and observation along with Galbraith’s skilled storytelling. --Christine Tran --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
"One of the books of the year."―USA Today
"Robert Galbraith has written a highly entertaining book... Even better, he has introduced an appealing protagonist in Strike, who's sure to be the star of many sequels to come.... its narrative moves forward with propulsive suspense. More important, Strike and his now-permanent assistant, Robin (playing Nora to his Nick, Salander to his Blomkvist), have become a team--a team whose further adventures the reader cannot help eagerly awaiting."―Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Rowling switches genres seamlessly...a gritty, absorbing tale."―People (3.5 out of 4 stars)
"[Rowling's] literary gift is on display in this work. She crafts an entertaining story [and] comes up with an ending that I'll admit I was surprised by. . . . A fun read, with a main character you can care about and one you'll want to see again in other adventures."―Washington Post
"An extravagant, alien, fascinating world for its characters to explore...great pleasures."―Slate.com
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Right on cue, the client of Strike's dreams walks through the door and promises to solve all his problems if he'll look into the apparent suicide of world-famous supermodel Lula Landry. The central mystery is presented as the old 'locked room' scenario: as far as anyone can tell, Lula was alone in her apartment and no one could have entered the building, gotten to the third floor, pushed her out the window, and escaped back down to the lobby without being seen by security or the other tenants, who were hysterical over Lula's swan dive. The three other people in the building are all accounted for thanks to their own accounts of what happened, but one of them claims to have heard Lula screaming at someone before the fall--which should be impossible because of all the soundproof barriers between them at the time. It's up to Strike to penetrate the mystery and find out what went on in that building.
You could argue that this novel is overly long and unnecessarily slow, but it only seems that way because so much of the genre is overly concerned with fast pacing and constant cliffhangers. Cuckoo's Calling grabs your attention the old-fashioned way and holds it without any tricks. It feels gratifying. The payoff: immense character depth that makes you want to hang in for the sequels. Cuckoo also eschews the 'final twist' formula that has, frankly, become tired. While that presents challenges of its own that don't all work, it makes Cuckoo a refreshing read.
Head to my blog at SupposedlyFun.com for an expanded version of this review.
Although Strike lives out of his office, and has no money, he is a very thorough investigator and takes his job seriously as he interviews person after person who knew Lula or was involved in investigating Lula's death.
Strike and his secretary, Robin make a wonderful team as Robin shows an enthusiasm for the work and looks after Strike by covering up for him with other clients and by doing a lot of online research in anticipation of Strike's needs. Although she discovers Strike is living in his office she doesn't let on and is a buffer between him and his clients. I love the combination of these characters and am looking forward to seeing them work together in the future.
I did find the reading a bit tedious at times which is why it only received four stars from me. I handled this by switching to reading other books between readings and that really helped me not to get dragged down in this.
I have to hand it to JK Rowling, as I loved her Harry Potter books, but that was not the reason I read this. Reading her writing as Robert Galbraith was like reading a totally different author and I liked that aspect. Her talent continues as she moves into a different genre and different style of writing.
I liked the way Cormoran went about the investigation, really looking for the truth, not just for his client's sake but with a determination to find the truth for the truth's sake. In spite of his own personal problems which definitely affected him (a prosthetic leg after having lost his in Afghanistan, having his heart broken by his ex, being forced to live in his office and make do, accumulated debts) he doesn't let those things get in the way of doing his best. His determination to do a thorough job is what I liked most about him as well as his ability to ask the right questions and to put pieces together as a good detective would. In spite of the slightly tedious spots I will be reading the rest of this trilogy.