Detective Cormoran Strike is a few pounds away from bankruptcy when he gets the call that changes his life. After his girlfriend dumps him and after he’s forced to live in his office, Strike gets a call from the brother of a model, who wants him to investigate her suspicious death.
Model Lula Landry fell to her death only a few months ago. Despite the claims from her family and friends that she was happy and not depressed, police deemed her death a suicide and left it at that.
But John Bristow, Lula’s brother, still can’t get over the suspicious nature of her death and asks Strike to investigate and find the man or woman who killed his beloved sister. Enveloped in a plot where every character seems to have a motive, Strike battles his own personal demons- as well as Lula’s- to bring the young model’s murderer to justice.
If you haven’t heard the news, a few weeks ago, The Cuckoo’s Calling was revealed to be a book written under a pseudonym by none other than the famous J.K Rowling. Within minutes of this news, the limited copies of this book were bought out at book stores and hundreds of holds were placed at libraries.
Lucky for me, I live in a small(ish) town, and managed to grab a copy of Rowling’s newest book rather quickly. Despite HATING her last book, The Casual Vacancy (sorry Jo), I was still quite excited about this new book. I love a good mystery and I was eager to dive into this one.
Unfortunately, this just didn’t live up to my standards. While it wasn’t as terrible as Casual Vacancy (which is never a good qualifier), it still wasn’t outstanding. At some points, I had to force myself through it, just so I could get to the good(ish) parts.
But before that, let’s get to the stuff I liked first. Jo has a way of writing characters that are compelling and unique, and The Cuckoo’s Calling is no different. Strike isn’t your cliched detective; after fighting in the war in Afghanistan, he has his own set of personal demons that he battles on a daily basis. He’s almost about to be run out of his business the day Landry’s brother brings him business, and he struggles with the choice of taking Bristow’s ample money and investigating a case he doesn’t really believe in.
Strike does not work alone; right as he begins to work on Landry’s case, he receives a new secretary from a temp agency, a younger woman who happens to have a secret love for detectives and mysteries. Robin was probably my favourite character in the novel; she’s fun, she’s bright, and she shines a lot of light on the case with her wit and intelligence. She’s also a regular woman, and is not romanticized. She’s clumsy and sometimes overeager, but her and Strike make a great pair.
Despite loving the characters, the character’s stories got in the way of the mystery, in my opinion. There was so much back story, and unique little tidbits thrown throughout the story, that I was never fully able to immerse myself into the mystery, since I kept getting tangled up in the tales of Strike and Robin. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for me, it prevented me from fully enjoying the plot of the mystery.
Perhaps it was because of the full-developed characters that I never felt any tension or climax in the mystery. In the beginning, it seemed as if Strike was simply humouring Bristow as he investigated his sister’s murder, but it doesn’t become quite clear at which point of discovering evidence does he become a believer in the murder. The plot lacked tension and excitement, especially as it neared the end. Even as the murderer was revealed, I didn’t feel any sense of shock or thrill; the clues just didn’t add up.
With that being said, The Cuckoo’s Calling wasn’t a bad book; it just wasn’t a great one.
So for that: 3/5.
Thanks for reading,