Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoos Calling Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
Little, Brown, 2013

I remember reading an article online revealing that J.K. Rowling had written a novel under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. The novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, had been given favourable reviews in various newspapers and was bringing in modest sales but, of course, as soon as the real identity of the author was announced the novel shot to the top of the bestseller lists. I was interested in reading the novel, but I wanted to wait for the hype to die down a little before I did so.

It’s now difficult to go into the book with no expectations since it was revealed that Rowling wrote it, and I wonder if I would have chosen to read the book, or even heard of it, if it wasn’t written by her. Yet when I decided to read The Cuckoo’s Calling I was under no impression that I’d be reading another Harry Potter and, having not read The Casual Vacancy (the novel for adults Rowling has written under her own name) I was interested in reading something completely different from her most famous works.

When I was visiting family in August, I wanted something easy to read and fast paced; something I would fly through and get engrossed in. I think I read Alex’s post about The Silkworm where she highly recommended both books in the Cormoran Strike series, so the books were on my mind when I downloaded The Cuckoo’s Calling on my Kindle.

A famous supermodel, Lula Landry, has fallen to her death a few months before The Cuckoo’s Calling starts in an apparent suicide. However, her brother refuses to believe this and insists that she was murdered. He calls on Cormoran Strike to investigate her death and Strike finds himself thrown into a world of millionaires, fashion designers, and models as he strives to find out the truth behind Lula Landry’s death.

Galbraith is a good storyteller and the plot of The Cuckoo’s Calling feels as if it’s been meticulously mapped out. I was kept guessing right up to the end of the book and even when I did have my suspicions close to the finish, I wasn’t sure why and how so was kept enthralled in the book, eager to find out more. However, when the mystery was solved, I was left slightly disappointed by its outcome. I haven’t read many crime novels but the novel’s plot didn’t feel particularly original, although it didn’t feel predictable.

This doesn’t detract from the fact that The Cuckoo’s Calling is an enjoyable, entertaining, and easy-to-read novel. I read it quickly, eager to find out who was responsible for Lula’s death and interested in finding out more about Cormoran Strike. While the book doesn’t feature the best writing I’ve ever read – I dislike the frequent metaphors and descriptions which sound a little, at times, as if they wouldn’t be out of place in a book aimed at a younger audience – this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book and I was still kept interested throughout.

Galbraith is clearly skilled at storytelling and it’s this which will see me picking up the second book in the Cormoran Strike series. I’m keen to see where Galbraith takes the series, how the story arc is broadened, and how the characters of Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin are developed. Because it is they who will also draw me back to the series as they are both likeable characters who I found myself rooting for. I hope that Robin begins to play a greater role in future books as I think she certainly has potential to do so, and she was slightly left on the sidelines in this book.

Overall, The Cuckoo’s Calling is an enjoyable read with a mystery that kept me turning the pages. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series – The Silkworm – and, if it’s as gripping as The Cuckoo’s Calling, I’ll also be reading the following books. I did read somewhere that Rowling has announced she plans to write more books in the Cormoran Strike series than in Harry Potter which is quite exciting.

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling or its sequel The Silkworm? What did you think?


20 thoughts on “Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

  1. I’m actually reading The Cuckoo’s Calling right now. About 200 pages into the book, I can agree with your review that it is an entertaining and easy read… Although the way some of the characters express themselves and some of the descriptions are on the border of annoying and/or unbelievable. I mean, Strike greeting someone with ‘how do you do’ doesn’t fit in at all with his character and feels out of place…

    • I hope you’re enjoying the book! I agree about some of the descriptions, although it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of the book. I hope they don’t put you off altogether.

      • For now the story is intriguing enough to want to continue… I’m curious to find out what Strike can discover about Lula’s death.

  2. Robin thinks she gets left on the sidelines as well, Gemma, as you will find out if you go on to read ‘The Silkworm’. I think that just as Rowling had to find her feet as a writer with the Harry Potter books (No. 2 is particularly weak) so she has to find her feet in a new genre. ‘The Silkworm’ is better plotted and the character development stronger.

  3. Having read your review, and a couple of others recently, I feel like I didn’t give The Cuckoo’s Calling enough time. I started reading it a little while ago but gave up after the first time… I found it quite slow. I enjoy crime novels, it is actually my favourite genre, and so I did have high hopes. I will give it another go in the future though.

    Also, when I heard that the series is supposed to have more books than HP, it kind of put me off the series as a whole…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gemma.

    • I’d recommend having another go, because I felt it was an enjoyable read. Perhaps because crime novels are your favourite genre, your expectations were higher than mine when you started reading? If you do give the book another chance, please let me know what you think!

  4. I read The Cuckoo’s Calling last summer and I loved it and I hated it equally. As a crime fiction reader, I felt that the novel was really well mapped out so that it reflected on the pace: you don’t go more than a few pages without feeling bored. However, I thought that the murder is not totally solved (I remember thinking I had to re-read it) and I was appaled at women’s representation (my pet-peeve). This summer I read the second one in the series and I felt the same, so as you say, this is an entertaining crime ficiton novel, but I wouldn’t say it is one of the best in the genre.

      • Yes. I was talking to the boyfriend the other day about how I know that the book fails at women’s representation (my pet peeve, I mean… my blog is half dedicated to this!) but I just love how perfect her mapping and her narratives are! Also, I have this hope that Robin will become a main character in her own right and she’ll be an amazing detetive. Oh well, we’ll see.

        What about you? Do you plan on reading The Silkworm?

      • I feel the same – while there were things I may not have liked about the book, I can overlook them because of how well the plot was mapped out etc! So yes, I’ll be reading The Silkworm and hopefully the following books 🙂

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