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The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) Hardcover – April 18, 2013
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime...A stellar debut."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Plenty of twists...Totally engrossing...Galbraith's take on contemporary celebrity obsession makes for a grand beach read."―Library Journal, starred review (Mystery Debut of the Month)
"A remarkably assured debut. Robert Galbraith's portrayal of celebrity-obsessed modern London is at once beautifully written and utterly engrossing, his characters so real you could eat dinner with them, his ever-coiling plot guaranteed to keep you up past your bedtime. I couldn't put it down."―Owen Laukkanen, author of The Professionals
"a strong and enticing read ... It's a gripping tale set in bustling London, and the author - whether called Galbraith or Rowling - shows superb flair as a mystery writer"―Irish Examiner
"It's really, really good - beautifully written with a terrific plot ... It's a terrific read, gripping, original and funny ... Please, please give us more of Robert Galbraith and Cormoran Strike. I can't wait for the next"―Richard and Judy, Daily Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
The first in a series of detective novels, this is the Introduction of Cormoran Strike, a private investigator who has seen better days: he’s previously lost half a leg in Afghanistan, loses his longtime girlfriend as the novel begins, is receiving death threats from a former client, and is down to a single client and facing mounting debt.
The arrival of his new temporary secretary, Robin, ushers in a season of change for both of them. Soon, Strike is hired by the brother of a supermodel who famously fell to her death from the balcony of her third-floor flat 3 months prior. Her brother—who also happens to be the brother of one of Strike’s friends who died as a child—offers a great deal of money to Strike to prove Lula’s death was not suicide, but murder.
There are lots of twists and turns in the mystery/investigation, and the prerequisite number of red herrings floating about. I honestly was less impressed by the mystery and its outcome (throwing away things that don’t make sense by way of virtually saying, “Who knows what goes through the mind of a psychopath?” is the sign of a lazy or incompetent author, and Rowling is normally not either) than I was by the characters of Cormoran and Robin, though I did feel a lot more development could have happened with them, but considering the book was already close to 600 pages and the pacing seemed to drag at times, perhaps it is best Rowling/Galbraith saved some for future books in the series.
Based on the strength of the main characters and some of the peripheral ones, I gave this 4 out of 5 stars, and will be picking up the next book in the series to see how these characters continue to develop.