display | more...

The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 detective novel first published under the name of "Robert Galbraith". It was well received critically, but did not sell well until July of that year, when it was revealed that "Robert Galbraith" was a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, Great Britain's most famous novelist. This revelation greatly increased the commercial fortunes of the book.

The book begins in a stereotypically familiar way: a woman shows up at her new job, as a secretary for a private eye. Her boss seems to be having some problems: he is deeply in debt, he is down to one client, and he just broke up with his fiancee, who left him a black eye to remember her by. Unbeknownst to her, he also is homeless and is missing a leg from a military engagement in Afghanistan. We are barely introduced to these characters, Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike, before a new client shows up: John Bristow, who wants the death of his sister investigated. A famous supermodel named Lulu Landry, she died from a fall from a third story balcony, which was ruled a suicide. But as Strike investigates the case, he finds that almost everyone around Lulu had secrets to hide: her junkie boyfriend, her fellow models, her cocaine addicted neighbors, and her opportunistic friends and family. Although burdened by his own disability and checkered family history, he methodically sets out to talk to everyone involved, juggling through lies and red herrings. When he finally does solve the mystery, it makes sense in retrospect, while still coming as a surprise.

Much of what is in this book is what is to be expected from a mystery, some of it in almost a tongue-in-cheek way. But as she did with The Casual Vacancy, there is a lot of social realism packed into this story. With the knowledge that this is a book by JK Rowling, a lot of the connections to her past books become obvious: orphans and people estranged from their family, the ways that people both seek and escape wealth and fame, and the classism and racism of Great Britain. All of these are weaved in to the detective story naturally, bringing the themes and the plot together. There were some things left unexplored, which will probably happen in the sequel to the book, called Silkworm, to be released later in 2014. Although I don't know if this book, or other books in the series, will ever match the popularity of Harry Potter, I would rate it just as good, or better, on technical grounds. I hope that this book, and others like it, will continue to expand JK Rowling's reputation.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.