Some authors write in the same world for so long that they are unable to break out and write a new story. When J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series, she spent so many years with the same characters. I was very curious to see if she could break away and write a different story – then came “The Casual Vacancy” which was so bad that it seemed to confirm my suspicions. Then she wrote under a pseudonym and “The Cuckoo’s Calling” came into being. It blew me out of the water.
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is about a private detective, Cormoran Strike, who is struggling in his life. He and his long-time girlfriend broke up which has left him homeless, he is behind on all his bills, and the PI business is on its last legs. In addition to all of that, Strike had his leg blown off when he was in the war, so adapting to living in a tiny office is not the easiest thing for him. Robin comes into his life as a temporary secretary and together they make an interesting team. Strike is surprised when the first piece of business he is given in awhile is from an old acquaintance, John Bristow, who’s brother Charlie was good friends with Strike. This guy comes into Strike’s office asking him to look into his sister’s death which was ruled a suicide and although reluctant, Strike takes on the case. He is by no means convinced that Lula Landry, beloved supermodel, did not kill herself but Strike needed the business. “Suicides, in his experience were perfectly capable of feigning an interest in a future they had no intention of inhabiting.” (The Cuckoo’s Calling, pg 27). Together, he and Robin start piecing together what really happened to Lula Landry.
One thing that I really liked about “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was how well J.K. Rowling was able to get in the mindset of a completely different set of characters. It really didn’t feel like she wrote this, it felt like Robert Galbraith was the author. I think she did a great job with it. I personally couldn’t put the book down and there were several moments in the book that came as a complete shock. It was fun being surprised and I really enjoyed observing Cormoran Strike in his everyday movements. He is a strong, well-developed character that you can’t help but feel for. “He had lost the army, and Charlotte and half a leg; he felt a need to become thoroughly accustomed to the man he had become before he felt ready to expose himself to other people’s surprise and pity.” (The Cuckoo’s Calling, pg 166).
During his investigation into Lula Landry’s suicide, Strike meets a lot of interesting characters including some of Lula’s friends who were models. “It was difficult for him to decide whether she was sincere, or performing her own character; her beauty got in the way, like a thick cobweb through which it was difficult to see her clearly.” (The Cuckoo’s Calling, pg 317). It was fun to see into the different lives that each character led. Lula’s model friends seemed to be good people whereas her regular driver seemed to be a bit off. Everyone had their own theory about Lula and whether she could have possibly done what everyone believed her to have done. It was clear that Lula had a difficult life, but the more Strike looked into her last days, the less likely it seemed that she had killed herself. The whole time Rowling kept the story interesting with different twists which I couldn’t stop devouring.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was a fantastic read. The pace was great, the plot was fun and exciting and there were definite twists that I didn’t see coming at all. Cormoran Strike is a fascinating character and I really hope that Rowling continues writing about him and his world. I definitely can see this book becoming a series and I will be there to read it.