The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

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The Cuckoo's Calling Robert Galbraith

I use Grammarly for English proofreading because they’re not going to win their fight over there.

Cormoran Strike is a military vet turned private detective who has had a recent string of bad luck – between crippling financial trouble and parting with his fiance, his world is in an emotional upheaval.  After a temporary secretary, Robin, bowls into his life and he is given the high profile case of solving the assumed-suicide of a young model, Strike’s life gets even more complicated.

I am ashamed to say that I had only heard of this book after it was leaked that J. K. Rowling wrote it.  Because she was so disappointed that the sales were going to skyrocket based on her name and not the novel’s own merit, I decided to give it some time before I read it.  Honestly though, this book or potential crime series would have taken off without her pseudonym being revealed.  Strike, like so many Harry Potter characters, is a well-drawn, three-dimensional protagonist who continuously draws you in and captures your attention.  Robin, who might have been a stereotypical secretary and assistant, steals the show as the mystery-solving assistant who just won’t leave Strike’s side.  She finds herself instantly drawn to the gruff man and to his chosen career, but she struggles internally with the expectations her new fiance has for her and her career prospects.

Perhaps what I loved most about The Cuckoo’s Calling was that while it contains so many of the same tropes you would expect in British crime fiction, Galbraith/Rowling manages to write it in her same magical way.  There is a quality to her writing that is nearly fantastical, even when she is talking about the mundane, that lifts the words right off the page.  While I am not sure she achieved this same quality in The Casual Vacancy (a book I gave a miss), she nails it in The Cuckoo’s Calling.  Her writing is simple and accessible, but the story never feels boring or tired.

The Cuckoo’s Calling moves at a rapid pace, keeping you plugged into the case and the strange relationships that filled up the dead model’s life.  While the central mystery is intriguing, the real magic of The Cuckoo’s Calling lies in the draw of Strike and Robin’s platonic friendship and chemistry, along with their individual lives.  While I have yet to hear of an announced sequel, I would gladly read more Cormoran Strike novels.

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