The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies. ~ Opening of The Cuckoo's Calling
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith
Mulholland Books, 2013
Crime Fiction; 550 pgs
It only took me three years to finally read this one. I was interested in the book before the real identity of the author came out, but my motivation to read it sooner rather than later waned as everyone else suddenly was rushing to read it. I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon of fans reading it just because it was written by J.K. Rowling. I never doubted I would like it. I'm a sucker for a good mystery. And so, three years later, I finally read The Cuckoo's Calling thanks to those of you who voted in my March TBR List poll.
The author jumps right in with the death of a supermodel, summarizing the police investigation and the media's speculation. Was she pushed off her balcony or was it suicide? Private Investigator Cormoran Strike is asked by the victim's brother to investigate what he believes is the murder of his sister. Everyone else has, by that point, written her death off as a suicide. All evidence suggests a suicide, and Cormoran is reluctant to take the case. His bills are overdo, however, and the brother seems desperate.
In many ways, The Cuckoo's Calling is your typical private investigator novel. Cormoran hits the pavement asking questions, calling on sources, hoping to shake something out that might prove one way or the other whether or not a crime was committed. His temporary secretary, meanwhile, pulls what research she can off the internet. The longer he is on the case, the more doubts Cormoran has that it was suicide.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first met Cormoran, but I was quite impressed the more I got to know him. Perhaps it is my father's military history that put a soft spot in my heart for veterans, and Cormoran was no exception. He was injured in the war and has a prosthetic leg. I appreciated how the character does not let his disability stop him from doing his job--and I also liked how the author did not shy away from going into some of the physical struggles he faced. Cormoran is a bit gruff on one hand, but a big softy on the other. He is clearly a very private person who likes to take care of himself. The last thing he wants is pity from anyone, much less hand outs. Which is why he finds himself living out of his office after his break up with his fiancée.
Fortunately, Cormoran's pride, which keeps him from asking for help, doesn't extend to Robin Ellacott. Although she comes to him as a temp, he recognizes immediately the value in her skills. She has a penchant for the work and quite likes it herself. The pay may not be great, but working with a private investigator comes with its own intrinsic rewards. Robin and I definitely agree on that! I liked Robin right from the start and think she and Cormoran make a great team.
The mystery itself is strong. I usually am able to work out who did what, when and why, but this one kept me guessing right up until close to the reveal. While the pacing of the novel seemed a bit slow at times, I never lost interest.
Overall, my first experience with J.K. Rowling as a mystery author was a very positive one. I look forward to reading more in the series.
To learn more about Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) and her work, please visit the authors's website. She can also be found on Goodreads and Twitter.