The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Hachette Audio on May 16, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 15 hrs 54 mins
Format: Audiobook
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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.

I wasn’t going to read The Cuckoo’s Calling, something about Rowling writing it under a secret pseudonym that just happens to leak out when the book doesn’t sell well rubbed me wrong. But the library had the audio available when I needed a book to quickly add to my player, so I decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised.

In a lot of ways it’s the standard detective story. Our detective, Cormoran Strike, is a big, tough guy with a gruff exterior. He’s definitely down on his luck, but his backstory is interesting. He’s a war hero and the son of a rock star father who he doesn’t have any contact with. I got a little tired of hearing about how uncomfortable his prosthesis was though. But at heart he’s a good guy who wants to help those who need him. His assistant Robin is competent and caring, but a little disappointing somehow. Maybe she just doesn’t get much of the lime-light. I’m hoping she dumps her fiancé in the next installment.

The mystery itself was good – several suspects, clues that the cops have overlooked, a couple good witnesses whose stories the cops discredited. I liked some of the secondary characters, they’re certainly an odd lot. One reviewer, Maureen Corrigan for NPR, used a term I was unfamiliar with when describing it – “mayhem parva”. Apparently, it’s a school of British detective fiction where “the story takes place in a circumscribed setting, it’s full of oddball suspects, and the killer is affably lurking in plain sight throughout much of the action.” Sounds like the type of mysteries I often enjoy, actually.

The characters were good, maybe not fully developed, but interesting. it is one of those mysteries though where you don’t know everything the detective’s thinking along the way and then at the end, he goes through paragraphs of you did this, then you did that, to prove how smart he is and explain how he solved the case. It didn’t bother me here, a lot of mysteries have that tendency, but sometimes it seems a little like taking the easy way out.

The narrator did a good job, especially as Cormoran. He made the story engrossing and I think parts of it would have been slow in print but weren’t as he told them. I’m actually already listening to the next, which is always a good sign.

About Robert Galbraith

JK Rowling

Joanne Rowling, (born 31 July 1965), writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film producer, television producer and screenwriter, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series.

Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in 1997. There were six sequels, of which the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written books for adult readers, including The Casual Vacancy and—under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction Cormoran Strike series.

Rowling has lived a “rags to riches” life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to being the world’s first billionaire author. She lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity, but remains one of the wealthiest people in the world.


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