My Five Star Friday recommendation is aimed at the reader who loves a good mystery and is ready to dive deep into a long read or listen. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith, is an intriguing crime story that is by no means formulaic or predictable.
Summary: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
I admit it; I knew that Robert Galbraith was a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling when I first listened to the audio of The Cuckoo’s Calling. But, I was immediately entangled in the gritty world of Cormoran Strike, only thinking of Potter when reflecting on Rowling’s ability to create complex plots and irresistible characters that entice the reader into their world.
Rowling’s talent for hooking a reader in the Potter series is repeated in this detective series. But it’s definitely dark and all grown up. I fell in deep-abiding-empathy with the damaged private detective not only because he is a veteran and amputee but also because of his negligent parents. Then there’s the efficient and unassuming office assistant, Robin, and the hints that she and Cormoran may be headed toward a ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ relationship. Will that finally be answered in the fourth book due out in 2017?
Not unlike the Potter series, Rowling knows how to make her readers wait for it. She is not a writer who churns out two dimensional characters or replicated situations even when writing within the confines of the detective genre.
So before the BBC series based on the first three books of the series, and before the release – if it ever comes – of the fourth book next year, I recommend The Cuckoo’s Calling in either print or audio format.
After The Cuckoo’s Calling check out:
Book 2: The Silkworm Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days–as he has done before–and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
Book 3: Career of Evil When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed.