BOOK REVIEW: Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (4 stars)

Robert-Galbraith-The-Cuckoos-CallingVerdict: A sharp, well-plotted crime novel featuring my new favourite detective.

I don’t often read crime/detective novels, but I’m starting to think that’s a mistake. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few I’ve read and it seems I’ve been missing out on a wonderful genre.

Cuckoo’s Calling is a brilliant addition to my growing crime shelf, with a smart, pacy plot and vibrant characters. I’m not surprised it got tongues wagging, resulting in Galbraith being unmasked as JK Rowling. I’m sad I read this knowing her pen name but, really, this gem is no one’s debut novel.

The story begins when a world famous supermodel falls to her death from the balcony of her London home. The press and police think it’s suicide but a member of her family thinks differently. Enter Cormoran Strike.

An ex-army lad and bastard son of famous rock star, Cormoran Strike could have easily been written as a typical film noir PI: dashing looks, suave skills with the ladies etc. Cormoran… just isn’t. I love him to pieces and I want to give him a huge cuddle, but Strike is more concerned with avoiding the ladies in his life than seeking out more. He has pot noodles for dinner, frustrates and offends most women by complete accident, and has hair everywhere, including his flabby belly.

Did I mention that I love him?

Motivated by his weeping bank balance and mounting debts, Strike takes the case, only to find there may be some truth in his client’s suspicion.

He’s everything I want in a detective and a character. He’s methodical, tenacious, with a list of personal flaws a mile long. He’s the man you’d want to get you out of trouble. He’s the man I mentally high-fived when Something Unexpectedly Wonderful happened involving a limo ride.

The supporting cast, as it were, are just as interesting as Cormoran.

Robin – who has a fantastic entrance into the story – is a temporary secretary who has long harboured a desire to be a private investigator. She’s sweet natured, very intelligent and has a very strong backbone. Her flaw seems to be loving Matthew, her brand-new fiancé, who is a bit of a tool. She and Strike bond over small victories, and the end result is in no small part thanks to her.

Everyone else has their own personalities, motivations and quirks, and no one falls into the stereotype trap that crime can sometimes pander to. Everyone is very believable and real – even the supermodels – and I could picture them all so vividly.

As for the plot itself… I must confess that I guessed the culprit fairly early on, but I wasn’t positive until the final reveal. Even though I had my suspicions, I couldn’t put the book down, just in case I was wrong, because it could have so easily be someone else in the line up. As it was, I still got the culprit’s motive completely wrong.

Every page was worth it. I can’t wait to read the next in the series, which I’m buying right now.

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