I recently finished reading A Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowling. I originally wanted to read this because it was written by Rowling and I adored Harry Potter. I got the book as a Christmas gift a few years ago and have put off reading it until now. The thing is, I read it as if I were wading through a thick swamp of molasses. It took me a few months because I could not get into it.
For those of you unfamiliar, A Cuckoo’s Calling is about the private detective, Cormoran Strike, and how he is hired to investigate the death of a famous supermodel, months after her death was declared a suicide. It’s a classic whodunit.
My rating: 4/10.
Maybe this is unfair. I really dislike crime fiction and mysteries. Have never been able to get into or enjoy that genre. Ironic, because it’s my mom’s favorite type of story. But, the genre as a whole always seemed boring and predictable to me, where there is more focus on solving a crime than of character development. And I’m a sucker for good character development. A Cuckoo’s Calling, though, seemed to fit into its genre, in which the characters are pretty much static throughout. There is also not very many layers or surprise twists.
One grievance I have is of the character, Robyn. Without giving any spoilers away, I don’t understand the relevance of Robyn’s character–or at least why her point of view needed to be included. She’s like Batman’s Robin (ha maybe that’s where her name comes from), but the novel could have stood with just Cormoran Strike’s point of view instead of switching. Whenever we, as readers, were seeing things through Robyn’s eyes, there was nothing of import, no sustenance, and no different perspective. In my opinion, she added nothing.
Also, I found myself not caring at all whether the killer was found. None of the characters were likable–maybe that’s a positive to a novel, but it made me very un-invested. I didn’t crave justice or revenge, just wanted to get the book over with. I will say that I didn’t see the reveal coming, but that could be because I don’t read mysteries much. Maybe a crime fiction junkee could have solved the case easily, but I am no Sherlock.
Finally, the title only made a little sense. It seems that “cuckoo” was the nickname of the victim, but there was little that went along with it. To become the title of the entire novel, I think there should have been more to do with the name “cuckoo” and how it helps solve the case.
In good faith, I cannot recommend this book unless you’re someone who loves mysteries and crime fiction. If you do, more power to you. Maybe you’ll like this book. Maybe not.