Monday, November 18, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)
Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Acquired Via: Library
Release Date: April 30, 2013

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

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.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

My Review

I was extremely hesitant to pick up The Cuckoo's Calling by one of my favorite authors writing under pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Harry Potter is one of my all-time favorite series, and I was scared that I would not be able to divorce that series from my mind while reading a completely different type of novel by J. K. Rowling. I know a lot of people have had this problem, especially while reading Rowling’s other adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. Which is one reason that while I own The Casual Vacancy in hardback, I have yet to read it. One of the reasons that I love J. K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series so much is that it was my introduction to the world of young adult fiction. Prior to reading Harry Potter (I was late to the party and didn’t start until almost forced at the end of 2008), I often held disdain for young adult fiction. I guess I always associated “young adult” with juvenile, held up my nose and read my purely adult novels. Then the Harry Potter series convinced me that I was idiot and that I would love young adult. And I do not want to see my beloved author fail to transition to adult fiction. However, some of my friends have read The Cuckoo's Calling and have really enjoyed it, and I saw some pretty great reviews, so I decided to maybe give it a try. When I saw that my library had it on audiobook version, I decided that I had to conquer my fears and jump in.

The narration in The Cuckoo's Calling was great. Either Robert Glenister was a native Brit or he could fake the British accent superbly. There really are few worse faked accents than the British and the South. He kind of had an understated way of narration that I sometimes forgot I was even listening to a book being read to me. I would definitely listen to a book narrated by Glenister in the future.

At the beginning I could still feel Rowling’s writing style, which I love, but it felt nothing like Harry Potter so I was relieved. Rowling has such a simple way with words that I can always feel like I’m in the story. It’s so easy to disconnect from reality with Rowling’s writing, which I’m sure is one of the reasons that Rowling’s books are world-wide phenomenons.

The pacing of the mystery was neither too slow nor too fast. It allowed us to get to know the characters and the setting, without being bogged down in may too many details. I did think that there were too many lucky coincidences (like Strike finding a temp worker that just needed to work in private investigation, and his savior basically choosing him as that P.I. because Strike knew his brother as a child), but I was willing to overlook these.

The characters were very well-done, and I was happy that all of the characters were flawed in some way or other. Strike was at a bad place in his life - he was a former military man who had been injured in the war and he was living in his office due to a recent break-up. I was ecstatic that Rowling wrote a flawed protagonist, because while Harry Potter may have been a tiny bit flawed, he really was written to be pretty much perfect. For example, in the books, one could tell the good guys, because all the good guys liked Harry and all the bad guys were against Harry. Strike is a far more believable character, and his bumbling, down-on-his luck personality really makes for a great underdog to root for.

My only real complaint was the wrap up of the whodunit. The whole time I was listening, I kept thinking that the murderer couldn’t possibly be this one character, because that character couldn’t possibly be that stupid or crazy. Turns out the character was that stupid and crazy. So while the ending was a little disappointing for me, the mystery did keep me guessing almost until the very end.

I do wish that I had read The Cuckoo's Calling before knowing that Rowling was the author. The entire time I was listening, I was comparing this to Harry Potter, even though the books are nothing alike. Also, I’m not sure if I like this book so much because Rowling proved she could write adult mystery, or if I like it so much on its own merits. The Cuckoo's Calling was a great mystery, but I’m not sure if I would have loved it so much had it been by an unknown author. Probably, because it was very well-written, but I am biased.

I had heard that this was supposed to be a series or at least have a sequel (which is supposedly due out in 2014), and I will definitely be reading this and the rest of the series, if there are more than 2 books. I’m so glad that I picked this up and that Rowling proved to me that she could write in genres other than young adult fantasy. Maybe now I will finally pick up The Casual Vacancy and stop procrastinating!

- 4/5 stars -
(It could have been 5 except for the ending)

Buy Links
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