The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith Reviewed by Karen Costa
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I am Robert Gailbraith. I wrote this book under a pseudonym because I didn’t want the fame and fortune born of its success getting in the way of my comforting obscurity.
None of that is true, but telling a lie seems like a great place to start a book review of J.K. Rowling’s mystery novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. I also want it to be clear to you, readers, that there are two Cuckoo’s in question, both Lula Landry, Cuckoo’s victim, the drop-dead (pun intended) supermodel who may or may not have leapt to her death, and moi, your reviewer, made crazy by Rowling’s insistence on switching point of view in her narrative as haphazardly as I change my Twitter bio. But she’s J.K. Rowling, so she can do whatever she wants and most of us will keep reading, rather than tossing the book aside, cheekily referring to it as “Bollocks” to channel our inner Brit. We may never know why Rowling chose to pull us out of the story by switching her third-person POV from Cormoran Strike, the private investigator/main character, to his peppy assistant, Robin, who just got engaged to a first-class snoozefest named Matthew. Poor Robin’s only joy in life comes from her new temp job at a run-down detective agency, but really, we could’ve figured that all out without the herky-jerky POV jumps.
But since when do we need to understand what we love? Cuckoo is still great. Did you think I was heading in another direction? Ha! This is a mystery novel I’m reviewing, readers, full of false leads and dark nooks and crannies that cloak hidden clues.
I know that we’ll be seeing more of Cormoran Strike, that detecting hulk who wins us over in Cuckoo with his complete lack of social skills and his tendency to drink until he requires medical intervention. He’s a fun and engagingly flawed character, entirely overwrought but still endearing. Could I have stood to know half as much about his past in his pursuit of the truth about Lula’s death? Absolutely. But I’ll take the trade-off. I tore through the book in a few days and didn’t guess the conclusion of Strike’s investigation. I’m ready for Cormoran Strike: Volume #2.
As someone who will freely admit to reading only the first Harry Potter, and not at all understanding the frenzied obsession surrounding it, of which both adults and children are made victim, you can rest assured that this review is entirely objective and in no way relating to any sort of Rowling-specific fixation. I’m just a regular reader who loves a yarn spun so tight that it wraps you up in its sexy, fun, intriguing little cocoon. Cuckoo might make you cuckoo at times, but it’s worth the risk.
Karen Costa is a writer living in Massachusetts. She is also a proud adjunct community college professor. Her novel-in-progress, The Reunion Date, is a romantic comedy. She loves her family and reading and dislikes lakes and ill-fitting pants. Check out her blog dedicated to short stories at http://shortygetdown.blogspot.com or connect with her on twitter: @KCoWrites.
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