I’ve been anxious to read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” for a few reasons. Word of mouth recommendations from friends, a blurb that piqued my interest, and of course curiosity because Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for the infamous J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” did not disappoint. The protagonist Cormoran Strike was extremely likeable. A huge bear of a man, Cormoran is in his mid-thirties, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who lost his lower right leg while serving his country. The illegitimate son of an aging rock star and one of his groupies, he works as a London based private investigator whose business is in dire straits. With debt up to his eyeballs and a recently failed relationship, Cormoran is not a happy man.
When a secretarial agency sends him a temp, he would have normally turned her away because he could not afford her, but due to poor timing he involuntarily assaults her as she is entering his office and guiltily agrees to keep her for a week… The temp, Robin, is also a likeable character. Recently engaged to be married, she is a young woman with a long-harbored wish to be a private investigator. Working for one, even one as down-an-out as Cormoran is like her wishes came true.
The first day of Robin’s employment, a wealthy client comes to the office and requests that Cormoran investigate the death of his adopted sister who just happens to be the famous fashion model, Lula Landry. Thinking that the case is fruitless, Cormoran agrees to investigate only because the client has agreed to pay him double his usual fee and he desperately needs the money. Once committed, he applies his usual meticulous investigation and record-keeping skills and soon discovers that the suicide is not a clear cut as the police have claimed. With the able and resourceful assistance of Robin, Cormoran enters the world of celebrity, wealth and fame to find who had a reason to want the beautiful model dead.
The title was aptly chosen. The ‘Cuckoo’ of the title was the nickname of the beautiful mixed-race model Lula Landry. Just as the cuckoo bird uses other birds nest to raise his young, so too was Lula raised in the home of a wealthy couple. Her birthmother was a drug addict and prostitute. At the age of four she was adopted by the Landrys when their adopted son Charlie was killed in an accident.
Written with a clever combination of humor, intelligence, and insider knowledge, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is a mystery novel which merits wide appeal. A classic whodunit, it introduces two enjoyable and very clever protagonists whom I will follow eagerly in the sequel “The silkworm”. Highly recommended!Just for fun, I found a website that lets you vote for possible actors to play in the future movie of “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. The whole time I was reading the novel I imagined Cormoran as the talented Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane (as he looked when he played ‘Cracker’). I have to wonder whether J.K. Rowling was picturing him also. She knows Robbie Coltrane and her descriptions of Strike make him sound like a ‘Hagrid’ type character.
BBC Television is bringing “The Cuckoo’s Calling” to the screen. With the rich character of Cormoran Strike at their heart, these dramas are sure to be popular. The subsequent books in the Cormoran Strike series will also be a part of the BBC program. Read more here.
Born near Bristol, England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Follow J.K. Rowling on Twitter @jk_rowling
Follow Robert Galbraith on Twitter @RGalbraith