Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling

The main reason I read this book is because I found out that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for JK Rowling and I was hoping for a better reading experience than the one I had with “The Casual Vacancy” a few months back. I thought perhaps the reason I did not like “The Casual Vacancy” was because of the plotline because I honestly wouldn’t have even tried to read it had it had another author name attached. But “The Cuckoo’s Calling” did sound fairly interesting even before I knew it was a Rowling book.

But now I’m afraid I have to admit that, at least in regards to her currently published books, I don’t like JK Rowling for anything but Harry Potter. There, I said it. Now please don’t attack me. (And yes I am smart enough not to have expected her adult books to be like Harry Potter so I’m not judging it based just on that. I’m judging the book purely on its own merit and not because I’m comparing it to one of my favorite series). Now that that’s out of the way let’s get into the meat of my issues.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is the first book in a series about the private investigator Cormoran Strike who is struggling to find and keep cases. Then he is approached by John Bristow who wants Strike to investigate the supposed suicide of his famous sister Lula Landry. (Side note: about two thirds of the way into the book we find out Lula is called “Cuckoo” by the clothing designer that made her famous therefore referencing the title. Honestly if the title was going to be referenced at all I wish it would have mentioned earlier on in the book but I digress).

So Strike, along with his temporary secretary Robin, start an investigation to see if Lula really did kill herself or if there was foul play involved. And the story and plotline was at least interesting enough that I was curious to figure out the answer myself but getting there was kind of a chore. There was too much description in some places, as in paragraph upon paragraph of useless information just for a character to get from one scene to another when it honestly didn’t matter. And then I felt like I was lacking some descriptions in the scenes that really mattered. It was frustrating.

And then the book finally started to bring me in when I was about seventy percent of the way through with it which is the only factor that redeemed it for me. That was the point when I really started to care about the mystery and the people involved because that’s when I felt like I knew them. I understand that it takes time for a reader to become familiar with new characters but damn, more than halfway through a book is not when you want your reader to start feeling it.

At the end of it the book ended up being both very predictable and not so much. The true story behind what happened to Lula Landry was not what I had expected though several theories had run across my mind during the telling of it (because Rowling set up several characters to be very suspicious and at the top of any readers suspect list). And, something that I don’t really feel is a spoiler because it was obvious and because the blurbs about the second book in the series mention it, the temporary secretary of course ends up sticking around to the end.

So all in all “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was not one of my favorite books of the year, I didn’t find it very memorable, and I doubt I’ll bother reading any of the other books in the Comoran Strike series though I may surprise myself someday.

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