28 Apr 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to investigate.

Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies.

MEMORABLE MOMENT{Page 138}: Once again, by consciously filling out his own bulk and allowing his features to slide, as they did naturally, into a scowl, he made himself sufficiently intimidating to repel challenges as he marched, eyes down, past the desk.

SOURCE: A Readers Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Though a big fan of Harry Potter, for various reasons I won't go into here I'd deliberately gone out of my way to avoid any of the 'adult' books written by JK Rowling, here writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. That is until now when it became my readers group's March read.

A so-so story, nothing special, in fact I'd even go as far as to say that as far as this genre goes The Cuckoo's Calling was verging on the mediocre. There were few, if any, surprises and I found myself one step ahead of the author most of the way through, having long since worked out who-dun-it by the big reveal. 

Having been warned by several of the other members of the group that there were a lot of profanities used throughout I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't an abundance of swearing (nothing that I couldn't cope with anyway) and what there was was used totally in character.

Contemporary (journalism and celebrity, not to mention Strike being a veteran of Afghanistan, are just some of the themes) and yet with an oddly old-fashioned feel to it which I'm not sure worked all that well.

Not that this was the only 'odd' thing about the writing.

Yes, by now I obviously knew this was a novel penned by JK Rowling and whereas I cannot hand on heart have said it was her work if I hadn't have known, I can honestly say that there were several pointers to Robert Galbraith being a woman - the attention to female fashion and the concerns about the state of gentlemen's toilets to name but two - that gave the whole thing a slightly off-kilter feel.

Why then did I enjoy the book so much?

In a word, Cormoran Strike. 

In many ways your stereotypical P.I. Gruff on the outside, and yet with such a sense of fair play. One of life's good guys. His disability giving an extra dimension to the character. I took an instant and inordinate liking to him that saw me through what was otherwise an essentially predictable, overly long, crime thriller.


Sherry Ellis said...

Interesting that this was actually penned by J. K. Rowling. I often wonder why famous authors chose to use pen names. Are they afraid that writing something mediocre will hurt their good reputation?

Tracy Terry said...

I also have very mixed feelings about pen names Sherry. Interesting how JK Rowling was outed 'against her will' as in fact being Robert Galbraith.


Kelly said...

I didn't know Rowling wrote under a pen name (nor have I -gasp- read anything she's written using her real name.

I was surprised at the ending of your review. It's nice that you found a redeeming quality to get you through the book.

Suko said...

Thank you for your honest review, Tracy. I'm glad you enjoyed Cormoran Strike's character.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have to whisper this really quietly .... I have never read a single Harry Potter book, nor ever felt the need to ... There, I've said it!

Hubbie did persuade me to watch one of the films, but it was just the one!

Given the vast number of reviews this book has received, the overall ratings are relatively low, disappointingly so I would probably think, if I was 'Robert Galbraith'. I do actually already have the book on my 'Want To Read' list, but I shan't be rushing to get to it anytime soon.

I don't mind it if I work out the plot and end game of a book fairly early on, so long as the storyline is immersive enough to keep me needing to know more and the characters are well developed with a 'life' of their own.

It seems from what you say, that in your opinion only half of the equation was evident, so perhaps Galbraith should go back to drawing board if she wants to succeed in the adult marketplace, as there are some excellent authors out there, who are much more experienced in the genre.

I wonder what some of your other book club members made of 'The Cuckoo's Calling', but I for one, always rate your honest opinions very highly, so thanks for a very even handed report :)


Melliane said...

I heard a lot about this one but I haven't read it I confess.

Brian Joseph said...

Pen names also seem an odd thing. I do not totally understand their purpose.

It seems that when JK Rowling writes outside the genre that made her famous most folks' impressions is that the results are just average.

The Bookworm said...

I am a big Potterhead myself but I have heard mixed reviews on this one. I think that JK Rowling is a fantastic storyteller but I don't think I will be reading this one anytime soon.
Great review as usual.

Gina R said...

I too haven't read her adult works... perhaps one day, but in the meantime I'll live in HP heaven. ☺