When a troubled model falls to her death from a Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts and calls in private detective Cormoran Strike to investigate.
Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his private life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s world, the darker things become and the closer he gets to terrible danger…
First published: 2013
I love a good detective novel and when I found out J.K. Rowling, one of my all time favourite authors and a huge inspiration, had written one under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, I became extremely happy. This paragraph is the only paragraph I’m going to spend on the fact that Rowling is the actual writer, though. She wanted to keep it a secret and I respect that and therefore find it irrelevant to compare this work to either the Harry Potter series (which is a strange comparison anyway) or The Casual Vacancy. I’m just going to review this novel in its own right. Has the knowledge of Galbraith’s true identity influenced my reading of the book, and the writing of my review? Perhaps, but I’m going to try to ignore it as much as possible.
The truth is, I really liked The Cuckoo’s Calling. It took me a while to get through it because of university stuff and, well, it being a long novel, but it was truly captivating and once I started reading it was quite difficult to stop. The fact that it remains unclear whether Lula Landry’s death was a suicide or a murder until very late in the story keeps you reading and the excellent writing style doesn’t help with putting the book down either.
Cormoran Strike is a very interesting protagonist, having been in the army for a long time before he got injured and lost his leg in Afghanistan. He is completely broke and gets harassed by people he owes money to almost daily, and as a reader you feel quite sorry for him. However, as the story progresses, Strike also started to impress me; he is a very competent investigator and knows exactly what he’s doing. Along the way, he also teaches the reader a thing or two about investigating:
Laymen, in Strike’s experience, were obsessed with motive: opportunity topped the professional’s list.
The characterisation in the novel is established very well, and I especially enjoyed the conversations between Strike and Guy Somé, Lula Landry’s designer friend. I also enjoyed the switching between Strike’s point of view and his new secretary Robin’s, which made for a nice variation of perceptions and perspective.
I do think the story, especially the dialogues, could have been a bit shorter — at times it felt a bit stretched out. That didn’t take any of the enjoyment away for me, though, so this is just a minor point of critique.
I cannot wait for the second book of this series to come out and read more about Cormoran Strike, because I do think there is much more about his character to explore. The Silkworm is due to be published at the 19th of June and I hope to acquire it soon thereafter!