I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Mulholland Books on April 30th 2013
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
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Also by this author: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. 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.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
Detective Cormoran Strike life has seen better days. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and is sleeping on a camp bed in his office, he’s got a single client that isn’t paying their bill and a whole slew of creditors that are demanding money yesterday. He’s fortunately hired to investigate the much publicized death of Lula Landry, a supermodel who fell to her death from her penthouse balcony. Her brother, John Bristow, is convinced that someone is to blame.
Okay, so the whole world knows by now that this is the work of J.K. Rowling. She first delved into Contemporary Adult Fiction last year with ‘The Casual Vacancy’. I had several of the same issues with TCV (which I put on hold about halfway through and have yet to make it back to it.) Even setting aside your ‘Harry Potter’ sized expectations, there really isn’t anything spectacular about The Cuckoo’s Calling. I applaud J.K. Rowling for having the gumption to take a leap into adult fiction because it’s such a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from her. Unfortunately, her Contemporary novels are just not my cup of tea.
Cormoran Strike has been praised in publications for his intriguing personality but I found him to be no different than any other detective/cop/investigator and he clearly dreamed about being Sherlock when he was a kid. Yes, he was a war veteran and he lost his leg and there’s a whole backstory there that is delved into but still didn’t manage to add anything super intriguing to the mix. Publications have also commented on the ‘brilliant mystery’ but honestly? It’s been done before and I didn’t find myself gasping in shock when the big reveal happens. It felt very much like a Sherlock Holmes tale where he’s about to piece together evidence from seemingly nothing and it’s all eluded to until the very end when he reveals all to the bad guy. It was all very yawn-inducing and worthy of a few eye-rolls to be quite honest.
In addition to the mediocre storyline and characters, the writing style is what ultimately caused my massive disappointment over this novel (and this is another issue I had with The Casual Vacancy). There are some truly fabulous lines that showcase her brilliance, but more often than not she tries far too hard to make it even more evident that THIS IS AN ADULT NOVEL. As if we weren’t aware of that fact already. Towards the end of the novel there was a line which caused the cringe of a lifetime:
‘She looked away from him, drawing hard on her Rothman’s; when her mouth puckered into hard little lines around the cigarette, it looked like a cat’s anus.’
Disgusting and totally unnecessary. Bottom line, her writing is just too crude and unrefined for my liking. I doubt I’ll give up on future novels of Rowling, but I won’t likely be continuing this particular series. I would so love to see more fantasy from her though.