Review: “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith

TAdd another detective to your list of favorites: Cormoran Strike.

A private investigator who lost his leg in Afghanistan, Strike is barely making it in the business with only one client and creditors coming after him. He broke up with his longtime, on-again/off-again girlfriend and lives in his office. Enter in John Bristow, who wants Strike to look into the death of his supermodel sister, Lula Landry. Her fall was ruled suicide by the police, but John doesn’t believe it. Though reluctant to take the case at first, Strike sets out to under who the murderer is among millionaires, rock-star boyfriends and desperate designers.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, and it had been on my to-read list ever since JK Rowling was proven to be the writer behind Robert Galbraith. Though I’m glad to know Rowling is Galbraith, a part of me wishes her pen name hadn’t been leaked until after a few of Galbraith’s books were published.

This was a well-written, well-crafted mystery. With each page turn, I tried to stay one step ahead of Strike, but I wasn’t able to figure out who the killer was until a couple pages before. I felt more like Robin, Strike’s temporary secretary — observant, remembering the necessary details, organized but without the crime-solving prowess of Strike.

What I loved most about this novel is something that I love about Rowling’s writing: the characters. She has a skill for creating not only relatable but also realistic characters. There’s a depth to every character and an importance to each of them, even if they are only in one scene of the book. Throughout the novel, you learn more about Strike’s background without getting it all on one page in the first chapter or two. To me, Strike doesn’t fit the stereotypical private detective you see in most books or TV shows. He’s not the know-it-all observer like Sherlock or the type-A Hercule Poirot. There’s a gruffness to Strike, yet you can see other layers through his interactions, especially with Robin.

The downside to the novel, in my opinion, was the back and forth between points of view. It’s great that there are sections in Robin’s point of view as well as Strike’s. But the switch will happen on the same page. It confused me at first because I wasn’t sure whose head I was in. Toward the end of the book, I was less confused with the switches but it would’ve been better to somehow separate the points of view. There wasn’t a clear distinction between Robin’s voice and Strike’s voice.

That being said, I also wanted more of Robin’s point of view. I get that Strike is the private investigator, but getting only snippets here and there through the book wasn’t enough. I would’ve preferred a couple more chapters in Robin’s voice. Her story might not have lended much to the plot, but why have only small sections in her voice in the first place? I also just want more private detectives who are women. Maybe eventually, Robin will become Strike’s detective partner instead of a secretary. Fingers crossed.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the next Strike mystery, “The Silkworm.” In the meantime, I’ll be watching “The Casual Vacancy” because I can never have enough JK Rowling in my life.

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