Tuesday 30 July 2013

GoodRead - The Cuckoo's Calling

I think we can all admit that we were all shocked/delighted/flailing out when we read the news that JK Rowling had released a book earlier in the year under the pen-name of Robert Galbraith and read the news in the coming days of how the truth came out (the dangers of Twitter and telling your wife's best friend something that is better kept to yourself!). My other half found out five minutes before I did that Sunday morning and, in a haze of "I KNEW SHE WOULD WRITE UNDER A PEN NAME! I KNEW IT!!!" (well played, JK) and ordering it on Amazon, it was only then that I read the sysnopis and went "You know, this actually sounds like something I would actually read while in my crime reading blitz". 

The Cuckoo's Calling is the first book in the series that follows private investigator Cormoran Strike and his new-temp, Robin Ellacott. Several months earlier, one snowy night, troubled model Lula Landry fell to her death from her Mayfair balcony. The Police (and Media) assume that she committed suicide. However, months later, her brother still has doubts and goes to Strike, begging for his help. 

And Strike agrees. Not just because he needs the money now more than ever, but Lula Landry was the sister of one of his old friends, Charlie, who fell to his death when they were children. But as the former war veteran slowly investigate Lula's life and the world she lived in, he can't help noticing how similar - physically and psychologically - Lula was to him. And as he digs deeper and deeper, things get dark and, before long, Strike has to wonder: did Lula really jump that night, or did something sinister and evil happen to her? 

Now, I finished reading this late on Monday, writing this now on a Tuesday and, once I figured out when am posting, you guys are probably reading this on Wednesday so, for me, this is a fast turn around. So, does it deserve the sudden JK hype? Does this book deserve the high praise from crime authors such as Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Peter James? 

Now, I am very torn over how I feel on this book. Ask me in a week or two's time, I bet my feelings will change to be more one side than the other. But, at this very moment in time, I am in the middle. 

As you guys know, I am a fan of reading crime novels. I still think Kimberley Derting's The Body Finder series tackles crime in YA brilliantly and I am a fan of Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerristen (I have also read Agatha Christie along with the lovely Stevie from SableCaught under the Twitter hashtag #MurderTheyRead some time back in June [was it June? Can't remember]) so reading a crime novel wasn't new terriorty for me, but reading this made me realise that I haven't read enough books in the crime genre than I first thought...

So, let's talk about what I liked about this book. I liked the mystery and I liked reading how Strike was investigating Lula's death, thinking "Ok, this has to be a murder. But... but am I sure that it is? Am I 100% certain that it was a murder or do I hope it was murder?", and because of I enjoyed the mystery, I didn't see the ending coming and that is a good sign of a good crime novel. You don't see it coming! 

I also really liked Strike's and Robin's relationship. At first, Strike didn't want this temp and was determined to be rid of her by the end of the week, but Robin shows herself to be quiet valuable to Strike's investigation. And Robin likes working for Strike who, we see, is wounded by war and by love. I enjoy how these two character, in a way, compliment each other. 

Now... let's talk about the two things that bother me about this book. Yes I have two, don't hurt me. The first was information. I know this is weird, seeing at this is a crime novel as information is valuable, but there was SO MUCH. We had information about the case, about the people who Strike questioned, about Strike's private life and, at times, I felt a little overwelled by it all. I just wanted the information that I needed to figure out what happened and whodunnit. I want information about Strike's and Robin's personal lives - don't get me wrong, I love reading that - but I wish that, at times, it was more subtle. 

The thing that bothered me the most was pacing. I like my books pacey, where they are twists and turns and gasps. I like things a little fast paced. But with the Cuckoo's Calling, it moved very slowly. At times, not a lot happened. Strike interviewed people, one by one, and it took time. This felt similar to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (the book I co-read with Stevie). Part two of Murder on the Orient Express was just Poirot interviewing the suspects and Cuckoo's Calling had that same feel to it. It took its time and, at times, I struggled with it because the book took its time. My other half even said that he saw me struggle with times...

The pacing reminds me of my failed attempts to read Ruth Rendell and PD James. Both authors take their time to explain the case and the characters. So, if you're a fan of either of these authors, you might like Cuckoo's Calling. But if you want something a bit more pacey, you might want to try a few chapters before you buy your copy or borrow a copy from a friend or from your local library. 

As for me? Well, I do want the sequel, but I might not be rushing to buy it on the book's release day and, when I do buy it, I want to read it at a leisurely pace. 


  1. Hmmm...I loved the Casual Vacancy and I like crime novels and I'm a HUGE Potterhead. So why haven't I bought this let alone read it yet? I don't know. I think my brain is still trying to get around the fact that JK Rowling has a new book out. I feel like someone is trying to trick me and they'll take it back.

    This was a wonderful review! I admit the slow pace does put me off but now that you've warned me about it I feel like I'll be much more accepting of it when I do read it now I'm prepared. Thanks for the review! :)

    1. Thank you for saying those kinds words. *blushes and hides in the corner*

      I think the problem I really had was, I enjoy crime and I liked the synopsis so I expected to love it and was surprised with what I got. Not that's a bad thing. But still... I think I read it in the hype (sometimes that's a good thing, other times not so much). You might decide to wait till it all calm down and like it more because there isn't that pressure.

      (and I'm so glad someone else LOVED the Casual Vacancy. I felt like the only one who did!)