Friday, 9 May 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

Reviewer : Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit  (

What we thought : From reviews and comments I’d read online, I was expecting a cosy crime novel in the style of say, MC Beaton, when in fact The Cuckoo’s Calling is actually an intelligent and well-paced read, graphic where needed and appropriate, without being over-the-top gratuitous in the style so in fashion at the moment.

As with Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy, here Rowling continues to exploit her skills to their best. Her wonderfully vivid imagination helps with the twists and turns required for a strong crime storyline, and her ability to drill down and examine scenes under the microscope is as engaging here as in all her previous works. Characterisation as ever is superb. Cormoran Strike is the most individual and in-depth detective I’ve read in many years. Even the lesser known characters, like for me, Rochelle Onifade were perfectly drawn and brought to life with an ease that I guess years creating characters like Snape and Dumbledore have polished to perfection.

The plot line was at first glance relatively simple. A grieving brother wants to prove that the suicide death of his supermodel sister was actually murder. And the task of solving this case was given to Cormoran Strike, without initially either the brother, the reader, or indeed Strike himself believing he had much chance of success.

But as the web untangled and the reader ventured further inside Strike’s world, I found myself gripped, fascinated and entertained in equal measure. I pride myself on usually guessing who-dunnit long before the reveal. Here, I’d say I was 99.9 sure about 75% way through, but still unclear on motivation right up until the climatic scene.

It goes without saying that I’d recommend this book to readers of crime and also readers who don’t feel in touch with the genre. I have a feeling Rowling may be responsible in bringing a new audience to my beloved genre in the same way Harry Potter put a new generation in touch with books. If you’re not a Harry fan, put all thoughts of the author aside and simply allow yourself to sink into the wonderful world of Cormoran Strike.

Bring on The Silkworm!

You’ll enjoy this if you like : Agatha Christie, PD James, Margery Allingham, Ann Cleeves.

Avoid if you don’t like : Private Detectives, London, Supermodels or are expecting a Boy Wizard.

Ideal accompaniments : A pint of Doom Bar and a Pot Noodle.

Genre : Crime.

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