Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

-Unsa Athar
- published in US magazine, The News

I saw this post on Readings Book Store Facebook page about a crime fiction novel written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and since I am done with my FSc and am allowed now to buy and read novels, I got all excited about it - like I had been about the last HP book before its release. Hence, when The Cuckoo’s Calling came out I bought it instantly, despite the eye-popping price, and spent my send-ups prep leaves reading it and had to deal with the disastrous consequences later!

Being a die-hard HP fan and being among those who grew up with Harry Potter, I found the book of exactly the opposite style to HP books. I was really impressed by the dynamic writing skills of Rowling.

The story revolves around Cormoran Strike, a private investigator, who is hired by John Bristow, the adopted brother of the famous supermodel      Lula Landry. Bristow wants Strike to investigate his sister’s supposed suicide. Strike is initially skeptical due to the extensive media coverage of the case, and is unwilling to reopen such a thoroughly investigated case. As the interviewing process proceeds, he encounters Lula Landry’s security guard, personal driver, uncle, friends and designer. Each character recounts their recollections of Lula and Strike comes to realise that the circumstances of her death are more ambiguous than he imagined. Strike is helped in his quest by his enterprising temporary secretary Robin, who, upon arriving in the detective’s office, becomes fascinated with the life of a private investigator.

The investigations take Strike to the world of fashion and the readers also get a taste of the dazzling yet hollow life of stars. While reading the book, one badly wishes to solve the case before Strike, but the case is too complicated for most readers to unravel!

To be honest, the book did not live up to my expectations. It is dragging from the middle till the end, but the climax is dine and the least suspected person turns out to be the killer! Plus, there is a lot of swearing in the book and for people like me life becomes tougher after reading such stuff because we pick up words easy!

And there is this ‘oh-so-essential-part’ whenever the world of fashion is discussed in the story and by this I mean the physical stuff that upsets the reader because the reader is interested more in the solution of the case and this fashion stuff becomes boring after a while. It seems that JK Rowling brought in this stuff to because she wanted to bring out a thick novel. She only managed to bore by delving too much about fashion. Overall, the way she has written the story in the form Chapters and Units along with the quotations she has written is pretty good. A few characters are interesting and at times it all gets so intriguing and you cannot put the book down without reading it to the last page.

So the conclusion is that I totally agree with the        The Daily Telegraph    review, that awarded  the book four stars out of five and summed up the novel as “a sharply contemporary novel full of old-fashioned virtues; there is room for improvement in terms of construction, but it is wonderfully fresh and funny.” 

It would have read better had I not known that the author is Rowling! Then I would not have expected so much out of it. It is still worth a read, but not worth your sendups-prep time!


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