Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Audible
This book would be rated: R for lots of bad language, sexual situations

Okay, I'll admit it. Although this is a book I would have enjoyed if it had been written by Robert Galbraith, I doubt that I would have gone out and bought it immediately after hearing about it if I didn't already know that Robert Galbraith was actually JK Rowling. But I would say that it's Rowling much more in the vein of The Casual Vacancy than of Harry Potter. The book is rough and raw, and there's probably a four-letter word on every page. But if that kind of stuff doesn't bother you as a reader, it's also a totally engrossing story.

Lula Landry was a twenty-three-year-old supermodel who was found dead in the road outside of her London home. Landry's death was ruled a suicide, but her brother, John Bristow, seems determined to have the death ruled a murder, so he hires private detective Cormoran Strike (down on his luck, a former war hero and amputee-- we meet him the day his fiancee has thrown him out of her house) to solve the crime. We're drawn into Lula's life-- the privileged upbringing with her adoptive parents, the squalor of her early years with her biological mother, her drug-addicted boyfriend, other supermodels, and the friends she made in rehab. Rowling does a fantastic job creating the world in which Landry inhabited, and she also creates, in Strike and his assistant Robin, characters who readers want to see again.

There are a few things I'd love to talk about with people who have read the novel. I seem to have missed an essential element for why the case was brought about in the first place, and listening to books on my iPhone makes it hard to go back and skim through to find the detail I missed. Also, I was a little bit uncomfortable, as an adoptive parent, about the way adoptive relationships and particularly adoptive children are portrayed in the novel. That said, I hope that Robert Galbraith is hard at work on the next novel.

1 comment:

Dosti SMS said...

Found it rather slow and uninspiring. I would have dropped is after the first 10 chapters or so, had it not been Rowling's book. I found the novel strangely colourless. The setting was depressing and characters boring.

The worst aspect, however, was the profanity. What in God's name was the lady attempting? After writing seven tomes of kids fiction, she has jumped right to the other extreme. Half the characters sprout the f-word in have their dialogues. Very distracting.

Sure, we shouldn't compare it with Harry Potter, but the end result is so disappointing. It's no surprise that she published it under a pseudonym. The JKR brand has taken a hit.