Book Review: “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

Best-selling mystery novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling” had a surge of public interest with the reveal of the story’s true author. Under the name of Robert Galbraith, a military man working in national security, J.K. Rowling scribed the newest installment of her published works. Rowling’s cover was blown by Judith Callegari, who released her identity to a Sunday Times Reporter. Callegari is a friend to the wife of an attorney at Russells Solicitors, who was entrusted with the secret identity.

Russels Solicitors must pay Rowling’s legal fees and also make a substantial payment to the Soldier’s Charity. Rowling has also pledged to donate all of the royalties for “The Cuckoo’s Calling” to the Soldier’s Charity.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” revolves around the mysterious suicide of infamous supermodel, Lula Landry. Hired by Lula’s brother John Bristow, ex-army private investigator Cormoran Strike searches for possible murder suspects overlooked by the police. Although Strike initially agrees with the police that Lula committed suicide, further investigation with the help of his attentive secretary Robin leads to a horrifying scandal as the two crack the case.

Rowling has shown readers both in both the “Harry Potter” series and “Casual Vacancy” that searching for the truth and unraveling secrets are the crux of character development.

I would have to say that although the characters feel relatable and have interesting backstories, Rowling pushes the investigation to the background for 75 percent of the book. This is only really an issue because all of Strike’s major discoveries occur at the end of the novel, sometimes with tiny additions that ruled out your own suspicions earlier in the novel. Rowling also had this issue in “The Casual Vacancy” when too many characters had epitomized at the very end of the novel, making the beginning seem less important and the end feel very rushed.

In most mystery novels, I prefer to solve the case slightly before the detective. This is mainly due to the progression of tension.  When the detective lands in a dangerous situation but is unaware of what lurks around the corner, your own fear festers. Although “The Cuckoo’s Calling” didn’t satisfy that for me, I was pleased that I didn’t see the prime suspect miles too soon.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is grounded in the smothering nature of fame, which drives the victim Lula Landry to become paranoid and to constantly struggle to lead her own private life while her so-called ‘friends’ sell her stories to the press. Perhaps if Callegari read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” and learned from the distress of its characters, Robert Galbraith could continue to write mystery novels in peace.