Book Review: – The cuckoo’s calling

Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) was enjoying positive reviews from professional critics accompanied by modest sales for his ‘first’ novel. However once the true identity of the author was revealed the book leapt up into the best sellers lists.
J.K. Rowling’s second published work for adults is in the classic detective genre and with her flair for storyline you would expect it to be a natural fit for her.

There were mixed views in the group – apart from the two main characters most of the rest felt stereotyped, undeveloped and actually quite unlikeable (although this is often a feature of the genre). Some were put off by the langauge and the gritty, uncompromising nature of the book. The characters either inhabited the world of glamour, or the underclass of society (no middle ground) – and it is unusual to have the two portrayed side by side.

Most of us were taken with Robin (there was a suggestion that she would be highly suited to the role in HR she turned down) and there was a growing liking for Cormoran Strike himself. An interest in or feeling of connection with the main characters would be necessary for the series to take off.

Rowling shows her customary descriptive style with some interesting turns of phrase: “her beauty got in the way, like a thick cobweb through which it was difficult to see her clearly.”; “pristine and polished as life-size dolls recently removed from their cellophane boxes.”.

We discussed who the real ‘Cuckoo’ was although to reveal the answer would be a plot spoiler.

Personally I enjoyed the book – it certainly held my attention, but I found the eventual denouement a disappointment because I found the premise on which it was built unbelievable. The conclusion seemed to arise out of nowhere – maybe I missed them but the clues to allow the reader to reach the solution seemed sparse.

The second book in the series is ‘Silkworm’, and Rowling plans to write more.

There are many other classic ‘detective’ writers. Naming a few such as:Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Ruth Rendell, P.D James, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler just brushes the surface.
“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins is often cited as the first detective novel.