Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #1)

SPHERE, 2013

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and call in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life in in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves in to the young model’s complex world, the darker things get and the closer he gets to terrible danger…

A gripping elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

I’ve lately been on a crime kick – This is the Water, And Then There Were None, The Snow White -trilogy, etc. Crime novels just seem like the perfect read for sunny summer days and thus The Cuckoo’s Calling seemed to fit right in. The release of the second book, The Silkworm, has inspired many bloggers to read the first one, and it is interesting to see how differently people view this book. Some love it and some don’t like it at all.

The Cuckoo’s Calling centers around a private detective Cormoran Strike whose life is currently a mess. He has just broken up with his fiancée, his business is going down and he sleeps in his office. Thus when a temporary secretary Robin walks into the office, she meets a grumbly, slightly overweight employer who’s ready to give up. Luckily for Cormoran, in walks also a client who wants him to investigate the death of her super model sister. Turns out that besides being a good secretary, Robin has a knack for detecting and the two start unraveling the mystery of Luna Landry.

This book was not my first “adult Rowling” as I have read and reviewed The Casual Vacancy here in my blog. What I enjoyed in The Cuckoo’s Calling was the tight mystery plot – there are a lot of jumbled clues that all seem to point at different suspects. The book is a real page-turner, and made me stay up late on several nights. However, I was a disappointed by how cliché the main characters were. Rowling crafts her characters well, and both of the main characters are likeable and have personality. But he is the archetype of crime novels: dark, brooding, lonely, Sherlock Holmes type of mastermind, whereas his sidekick Robin is young, unknowingly beautiful and surprisingly good in a job she has never done before. The quantity of the different clues confuse the reader, and though I did not guess who the killer was, the ending wasn’t mind-blowing. In addition, I appreciate book titles that reveal their secret once you’ve read the book, but in this case I can’t see any meaning behind it.

In short, I liked the story and the mystery, but I expected more from the author. However, this is only my personal opinion. I know many people who love this book and I am still planning on reading The Silkworm, just maybe not in the near future (I ran into a big spoiler). So if you are already interested in the book, do read it.


“It’s an illness,” she said, although she made the words sound like “it’s uh nillness.”

Nillness, thought Strike, for a second distracted. He had slept badly. Nillness, that was where Lula Landry had gone, and where all of them, he and Rochelle included, were headed.


3 thoughts on “Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #1)

  1. I just finished reading and reviewing The Cuckoo’s Calling as well. While the author ties all the loose ends of the case, the narrative style just rubbed me in the wrong way. A good mystery just not my kind of book.

  2. I agree with you: there were too many clues, too many leads, and at some point it was hard to follow. The ending was a bit disappointing. However, it is a page-turner, you can’t stop reading it, and I feel like it was a good whodunnit. I love Cormoran and Robin, but I just finished The Silkworm, where we see more of them, more of their personality, so maybe I’m a bit biased ;).

  3. I agree with you, it wasn’t bad at all, but I wanted more. I plan on reading the sequel too, so hopefully that one gives us our more. That really sucks about the spoiler! Ugh that would make me so mad. Great Review:)

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