The Cuckoo's Calling

titleGalbraith, Robert. The Cuckoo's Calling. 2013. (Mystery Galbr.R)

If I did not have special knowledge about the provenance of this book, I might have not bothered to review it. But it's a special case, so here goes...

Cormoran Strike, hard bitten British ex-army investigator who lost a leg (actually just a foot) in Afghanistan, is a down-on-his-luck private detective with bill collectors dogging him and a fianceƩ who's been cheating on him. He's moved out of her posh digs and is living in his dump of an office when in walks Robin, a temp he's forgotten he'd hired who's got the right mix of spunk and savvy and is crazy about the detecting business. No sooner does Robin settle at her desk, then in walks a big money client with some up front payment (whew). Mega-celebrity model, Lula Landry, fell from her balcony. The police say suicide; her brother, the client, says she was pushed. Here's a classic plot line for a noir-ish murder mystery which could have been great had the characters or the plot twists been handled in a less pedestrian way. The plot is predictable, the characters wooden.There was potential for some interesting back stories and dynamics between Strike and Robin, but the author lets them lie there even though I smelled sequel at the end.

 

So, now the special knowledge: Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym. The real author's name leaked just as the book was released is...J.K. Rowling! She had wanted to have her work appraised on its own merit and not have it colored by those who either love or dislike all things Rowling. Honestly, it's a disappointment to me. I love the Harry Potter books, and I thought her first non-HP novel, The Casual Vacancy, was quite good, but she dropped the Golden Snitch on this one.

(Barbara L.)

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