Author: Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Mulholland Books, 2014
ISBN 13: 978-0316206853
By Angela Vincent
I think by now everyone knows that Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling’s pseudonym so I’m not dropping any clangers by referring to it here. When I was telling a colleague at work that I was reading The Cuckoos Calling, she asked if I thought it would have been published or had such good reviews if it wasn’t written by JK Rowling. My answer was an emphatic ‘yes’ on both accounts. This is clearly a novel written by a skilled story teller with a great eye for detail.
The sleuth protagonist in this story is the troubled war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike. His brief is to investigate the presumed suicide of a model who falls to her death from the balcony of her Mayfair apartment. He does this by a careful process of interviewing and fastidious clue collection. This all happens at a measured pace throughout the story and despite, or maybe because of, the attention given to every stage of evidence retrieval, it never becomes tedious.
There is a fairly sizeable cast in this novel consisting of models, paparazzi, rock stars, and fashion designers. Galbraith / Rowling is able to provide a level of detail that I suspect could only come from personal experience and understanding of the workings of life under the media spotlight. The location of the novel (London) also stands out and the city almost becomes a character itself, just as integral as it is to the mystery.
As in all the best detective dramas, an assistant is needed. In this case Cormoran’s assistant becomes his office temp, Robin. Robin provides just the right amount of loyalty, intelligence, and integrity as they work togetherto solve the mystery. This is a relationship I imagine will grow and develop in future Cormoran Strike novels.
This is a big book; 550 pages worth of cleverly put together crime fiction. As with lots of crime fiction there is a lot going on in this book, so dedicated reading time is needed to get the best from it. I found I enjoyed it most when I had time to read a sizeable chunk in one sitting. Like all good murder mysteries should, this kept me guessing until the end.
I can’t wait to read Robert Galbraiths follow up novel The Silk Worm.
About the Author
Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and the Casual Vacancy.
[Note added by TBL Admin.]
When asked about whether or not revealing the pseudonym was a publicity stunt, Rowling responded: “My plan to write under a pseudonym was of long standing and while I did not have the time I had hoped for, it was wonderful while it lasted. I enjoyed a long period of writing and researching without pressure or expectation and it was wonderful to receive feedback from publishers, reviewers and readers under a different name.” | Read more here.
Text © 2014 Angela Vincent
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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