Monday, March 7, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling
Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
Publication Date: 4/30/13
Pages: 455
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: It's J. K. Rowling...
Date Completed: 2/1/16

Summary: Private Investigator Cormoran Strike is in a bad place personally, professionally, and financially. A shot-in-the-dark case investigating the death of a supermodel may be his chance to right the sinking ship.

What I Thought: Several years back, I selected this book for Kevin and I to listen to on a car trip. That choice is always a bit of a risk; he's pretty picky. Back then, we got a chapter or two into this novel and he deemed it "boring." Since then, we've listened to the full Harry Potter series and I thought Rowling's second series deserved another shot. Kevin, unfortunately, saw through my ruse to attempt the same book again, but this time I went on without him. As such a big fan of Rowling's other work, I wanted to see what this would be like.

I find it incredibly interesting that this is the genre into which Rowling ventured after Harry Potter. I love the idea that she used a pen name to see if her work would be accepted and enjoyed without the premise of fame. This book is a huge departure from what she is known for, so I imagine she must have felt some serious trepidation before letting it out into the world. 

In general, I do not love mystery novels. I do not dislike them, but they are often very formulaic and spend more time unraveling the mystery than on character development or beautiful writing. Obviously, this is not always the case, but it often is. Thus, I likely would never have read and certainly would never have returned to this book were it not for Rowling and my allegiance to her writing.

The Cuckoo's Calling absolutely matches the formula of many detective books. Troubled protagonist/detective, likeable new assistance who serves as the reader's guide in many ways, dramatic case which escalates as it progresses. I have to admit, while I enjoyed it, I did not find it to be a revelation or anything. Perhaps Rowling is tried of world-creating and wanted to write something with more clearly defined industry lines.

Still, she brings her penchant for character development and attention to detail. She explores the characters and their lives well. It's not much of an action-adventure mystery; rather, it's solved with good old-fashioned detective work. This involves some Holmes-like observations and some understanding of human behavior on the part of Detective Strike. For me, grounding the story on those qualities and, of course, continuing her tradition of quality writing, kept me interested when normally I would not have been. 

My takeaway is this: don't read this book or this series simply because you are a Harry Potter fan. Read it if you like Rowling's style, in or out of the fantasy genre. Read it if you like well-written detective stories. Read it if you like interesting characters and murky motives. Read it with an established understanding of both what you are looking for and can reasonable expect to find. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Will I Re-Read: Mystery novels aren't so much for rereads...
If You Liked This Try: The Girl on the Train / Black Chalk
Other Books By J. K. Rowling: The Harry Potter series / The Casual Vacancy

A Reduced Review: A fairly typical detective novel, but with the addition of Rowling's attention to character and detail.

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