Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

Alexandr Smalyuk Arts & Entertainment Jul 28, 2020

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a detective novel written in 2013 by Robert Galbraith, a pen name of J.K. Rowling (the author of the Harry Potter series). The book begins in London with the suicide of supermodel Lula Landry, and the investigation surrounding her death. The story follows two protagonists, Cormoran Strike, an ex-military private detective who is desperately hoping for a case to support his failing business, and Robin Ellacott, who is looking for new work, and was just assigned to Strike as a temporary secretary. Throughout the book, the two of them explore the different sides of twenty-first century London, from the high-class Mayfair to the criminal streets and alleys, in their search for the truth about Lula Landry’s death.

This is the first book in Robert Galbraith's series of detective novels about Cormoran Strike, and I think that it’s the best of them—the detective mystery itself is very interesting and complex, but not to the point of being almost impossible to comprehend, as some of the later books in the series are. It keeps the characters just one step ahead of the reader, so that the reader is left to create their own theories using the book’s evidence. The novel excels at building the world of the story, and shows the many layers of London that any large city would have.

The characters and their history are revealed slowly throughout The Cuckoo’s Calling, making the reader not only invested in what will happen to the protagonists in the novel, but also in what has happened to them in their past to shape them into what they are today. While Cormoran Strike is the main protagonist of the story, Robin serves as this book's audience surrogate: she’s someone who is new to the world of crime that the story deals with, and learns more and more about it as the book progresses. Even the story’s secondary characters are memorable enough to leave an impression on the reader by seeming just guilty enough to keep the reader thinking about the mystery.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a story that I will definitely recommend for anyone who is a fan of the detective or crime genre. I remember when I first started reading it, I couldn’t put it down for hours, as the story just kept getting more interesting and complex. As someone who hasn’t read crime novels before, it got me interested in the genre and led me to discover other great books that I still enjoy, so I think it could hook new readers into that genre as well. While it may not be the easiest read regarding the amount of characters, facts, and motives, the writing style is very easy to comprehend for the average reader, and will definitely keep you invested until all the answers are revealed.

Alexandr Smalyuk

Alex, a senior, joined The Current to discuss books he loved and found the environment welcoming. He dreams of translating Russian & English stories. Last year, he was a winner of Mission Catastrophe.

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