Monday, 21 October 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/ J. K. Rowling

The big reveal in the world of crime fiction this year, was that J. K. Rowling wrote the novel The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The book got brilliant reviews before anyone knew Rowling was behind it, and after the cat came out of the bag, the book has been flying off the shelves. A nice boost for Rowling, after her less successful The Casual Vacancy.

I finally got around to reading it after one of my coworkers recommended it. It's been applauded as a great classic crime, but to me it does have a nice amount of the hardboiled in it too.

We follow private investigator Cormoran Strike, a war veteran with one leg missing, who's just been left by his fiance. Business has not been going well either, but Strike's luck is changing all in one day. Firstly his new super-sub Robin just walked into his office and started making the business seem professional (all Batmans need their Robins, right?). Secondly, Strike just got a new client. John Bristow wants Strike to investigate the alleged suicide of his sister, supermodel Lula Landry. Apart from the fact that Strike cannot afford to reject the case, there's also a personal tie between Bristow and Strike.

As Strike starts honing in on the last movements of the troubled and haunted supermodel, it becomes more and more clear that Landry was indeed murdered. But the closer Strike gets to the truth, the higher the risk of more dead bodies turning up.

Strike is an interesting character, as he's such a nice blend between the classic and the hardboiled. At times his deductive powers are equal to that of Poirot or Holmes. However, there are also times where luck more than anything is what brings him to the truth. His troubled personal life, his rather colourful upbringing, all make Strike a difficult man to predict. Even after finishing the book I feel that I have a lot more to learn about Strike himself. His substitute secretary Robin is the perfect addition to Strike.

The rest of the novel is sprinkled with characters from all walks of life. From the glitz and glam of the fashion world, to the darker world of domestic violence. From the gutter to the penthouse. The characters feel authentic and reinforces the mystery surrounding Lula Landry's death.

The novel had me going from start to finish. As I read the last few pages I felt a little bit sad to leave Strike and Robin behind. But there's no reason to believe Rowling won't continue this new world of hers, so I'm excited to see what comes next. Not just a Potter face, hey Rowling?

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