Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
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.
Oh. My. Word.
So, let me start off by saying that I am not at all well-versed in the mystery genre, and have very little to compare to. I have been wanting to get into this genre for a while now, but wasn’t really sure where to begin. So when I saw Cuckoo’s Calling on sale for $6 I figured, why not?
This is far and away the most interesting mystery novel I have ever read.
First off, it was so cool to read a character driven mystery. For the first hundred pages especially, Rowling (I’m just going to ignore the pen name if that’s okay with everyone…) really focused on getting to know the characters, rather than getting to know the mystery. Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin, are both fascinating people to me in different ways. I was as interested in getting to know them as I was in what happened to Lula Landry.
And the supporting characters were just as interesting. Nobody was watered down, glossed over, or hero worshiped. We saw every character’s faults and deepest secrets through Cormoran Strike, as well as their great virtues and the things that made them good people. Every time I would think I knew who the villain was, that character would be revealed to really care deeply about Lula, even if they were just using her, or mad at her, or something.
The mystery was just so well handled. This genre plays right into Rowling’s strengths. Her attention to detail, often several books before it even mattered, is one of the things that makes Harry Potter so re-readable. And she really knows how to throw clues down without making it obvious they are clues. What was so cool about this was that I was able to play along, which I like to do, but most of the time I was just as lost as Robin was. Then, at the end, when the plot is being revealed, I was saying things like “OH! That makes so much sense!” and “How did I miss that???” Perfect.
One of the hooks that made Cuckoo’s Calling grab my attention extra quickly was Cormoran’s assurance that it wasn’t a murder at all, but a suicide, just as the police found it. For at least the first hundred pages he doesn’t expect to find anything. I don’t know, I just thought it was unique, and I love reading something unexpected.
Whether you think you like the mystery genre or not, I would strongly suggest giving Cuckoo’s Calling a try. I loved it.