The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith The 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

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series and The Casual Vacancy.