As much as I wanted to divorce the name J.K. Rowling from The Cuckoo’s Calling while reading it, I couldn’t. No one can. It doesn’t matter if the author is on everybody’s lips or is an absolute stranger; their life, their work, their previous written work all leak into the reading experience, and you cannot help but draw comparisons and make judgements.
With that disclosure out of the way, let’s see what Rowling’s latest work (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) offers. An unconventional hero (‘pubey’ hair, amputated leg, large and corpulent body, the son of a rock star!) – Cormoran Strike, a private detective. His smart and pretty sidekick (called Robin; how subtle). A beautiful model who has apparently committed suicide and her brother who is convinced it is murder. And then a supporting cast that is really a cross-section of all of humanity. And so, The Cuckoo’s Calling is less about the plot and more about its characters, much like The Casual Vacancy. That there is a possible murder lingers in the background more often, as Rowling delves into the lives of her people. Her trademark long, descriptive sentences, while a pleasure to read, do little to move the story along. And when she does arrive at the resolution, you are a little lost, because she doesn’t share Strike’s unlocking of the mystery with you. The ‘who’ of whodunit will surprise you, but there is really no other thrill in the book.
For those accustomed to the quick, racy and immediately consumable nature of Jeffery Archer, Lee Child and Dan Brown books, The Cuckoo’s Calling will be unnecessarily long and difficult to engage with. This isn’t like other murder mysteries; this is more literary. But if you are a fan of Rowling’s writing, you will read it anyway and will rejoice that she’s continuing the series with Strike and Robin.
Volume 3 Issue 3