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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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The main character Strike is a war hero who used to be a military police officer but left when he lost part of his leg. Now he wears prosthesis and manages pretty well.
He is down on his luck and after breaking up with his, “on again off again”, fiancée, lives in his office where he tries to make a living as a private investigator.
In addition, he also has a temporary secretary, Robin, whom he can’t afford, but does not have the heart to send her away.
Luckily, someone from his past walks into his office and asks him to investigate suicide of his sister, a famous model, who fell to her death from her third story condo. Her brother does not believe it was a suicide. He thinks somebody killed her.
The pace of the book is not harried but not boring. I liked the characters of Strike and Robin. They are vivid and real. The characters of the witness and her sister on the other hand are more of the caricature of what a trophy wife should be than who they actually are.
The story itself does not have a seamless flow and parts were hard to understand.
Overall, it was an ok 3 stars read.
I liked Cormoran and Robin a lot. They are interesting characters and they made a great team, once they got past the whole "let's ignore the elephant in the room" of Cormoran living in the office. That schtick got old fast and I was glad when they finally got past it. I'll probably read the rest of the series, but I won't be in a rush to do so.
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.
This story chronicles the private investigator, Cormoran Strike, as he is hired to investigate the assumed suicide of a famous supermodel. Strike is the perfect protagonist. He is a war veteran with many personal faults but his powers of deduction and inference are almost magical. Strike and his assistant make a great crime-fighting duo.
Rowling’s attention to detail, character development, and interweaving of storylines make for a really fun read. The reader is privy to all of the details of the investigation through the book so it is fun to try to figure out the result along with the protagonists. I love this style of mystery writing but I am usually disappointed if I can figure it out too early. That was definitely not the case in this story. I had no idea until Strike starting revealing his conclusions who was really at fault.
When I finished this book, there was one detail that bugged me. The believability of Strike’s ability to deduce and inference was borderline all along. He came to many conclusions that seemed just on the verge of far-fetched but I was able to stay with the story. At the very end he “knew” the combination to a safe. That one was just too far for me. No matter how good his guesses were, that one just seemed unrealistic.
I would recommend this book.