The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.A brilliant 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 credito...

Title:The Cuckoo's Calling
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316206849
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:455 pages

The Cuckoo's Calling Reviews

  • Susan
    May 31, 2013

    This is a wonderfully entertaining new crime debut, which although it contains nothing amazingly original, works really well. Firstly, there is the main character, Cormoran Strike - a wounded war veteran, with a troubled past, damaged love life and financial woes, which see him sleeping in his office when we first meet him. Strike has left the army, which provided him with the structure and home life his mother never could, and set up as a Private Detective. The only problem is, a lack of paying

    This is a wonderfully entertaining new crime debut, which although it contains nothing amazingly original, works really well. Firstly, there is the main character, Cormoran Strike - a wounded war veteran, with a troubled past, damaged love life and financial woes, which see him sleeping in his office when we first meet him. Strike has left the army, which provided him with the structure and home life his mother never could, and set up as a Private Detective. The only problem is, a lack of paying clients. He then receives a new temporary secretary, Robin Ellacott, with her slightly stuffy fiance and her secret desire to be a detective. Both Strike and Robin, are fully fleshed out characters that we care about deeply by the end of the book.

    The crime Strike is asked to investigate involves a famous supermodel, who falls (or is pushed) from her balcony on a snowy, London night. Lula Landry is the adopted daughter of a wealthy family and her adopted brother is insistent that she had no suicidal feelings when he met up with her that day. As Strike sets out to investigate, we are introduced to a cast of identifiable characters - the effeminate dress designer, drug taking Paparazzi avoiding boyfriend, disgrunted 'wannabee' film star chauffeur, elderly, dying mother, disapproving family members, etc. Although the plot is really quite a simple one, it works very well. The author has created a totally realistic scenario, with London almost becoming an extra character as Strike walks the streets and a satisfactory plot with a good cast of suspects.

    I would say that Cormoran Strike is the best new addition to the P I genre that I have read for a long time. He certainly deserves a series and I hope to see him appear in many more books. There were tantalising glimpses of his past which need much further exploration and perhaps the author can be kinder to him in the next book and, at least, get him a proper place to sleep. I feel he will serve the author well and deserves a little looking after! If you enjoy really intelligent, well written crime novels (P D James, etc) then this will be a book you will love. Great start to what will, hopefully, become a long running series.

    * Have just found out this was written by J K Rowling. I am glad I didn't know that when I read it and I hope it doesn't put her off continuing the series, now she has been 'outed' as the author. It is a good read on its own merits.

  • Jason Lalljee
    Jul 13, 2013

    : This is my final review of the book. Most of what I included in my preemptive thoughts is here, so you don't have to read this whole... thing.

    Alright, let’s address the hippogriff in the room: finding out that J.K. Rowling published a book under a pseudonym is something that I had I expected might happen post-Potter (and, embarrassingly, searched for), but when the question was brought up as to whether or not she'd write under one,

    : This is my final review of the book. Most of what I included in my preemptive thoughts is here, so you don't have to read this whole... thing.

    Alright, let’s address the hippogriff in the room: finding out that J.K. Rowling published a book under a pseudonym is something that I had I expected might happen post-Potter (and, embarrassingly, searched for), but when the question was brought up as to whether or not she'd write under one, she dismissed the idea, saying that people would quickly find out it was her (which, after reading The Casual Vacancy I concur with, as the tagline could have been "WELCOME TO DURSLEYVILLE"), so the idea was sort of debunked for me.

    First, I feel that it’s necessary to offer in preamble that I actually liked The Casual Vacancy. Yes, it offers some views that some may find preachy, and Rowling’s stream-of-narrative writing lacks subtlety and dilutes the rawness of her characters. However, I also found it quite affecting- in fact, I’ve since read the novel a few more times more objectively, and the craft behind it becomes more apparent with each re-read. Did Franzen handle social satire better? Yes, but Rowling is in tight possession of a unique, wry wit that’s all her own. I think that the problem that many fans had is that they’re accustomed to the J.K. Rowling who writes about morality on a large scale- great battles of good and evil staged with dragons and goblins and ghosts, entrenched in themes of friendship, love, and death. The Casual Vacancy is also a morality tale- but the characters are so clueless, self-destructive and human, that a fan of the Harry Potter books can’t help but emerge disappointed.

    Fortunately, The Cuckoo’s Calling doesn’t strive for such heights.

    When I first heard about the book (after fixing the hole in the ceiling caused by my gargantuan leap of joy) I was excited. I mean, I’d much rather see J.K. Rowling whip out that killer gift for world building that she has in the realm of science fiction or fantasy, but she is equally skilled in mystery writing. I’ve always, always thought of The Chamber of Secrets as a mystery novel. That was always the appeal of it to me, and I felt that it stood out from the rest of the books because of it. But after J.K. Rowling wrote in the FAQ section of the new Cormoran Stike website that all of the Harry Potter books are essentially who-dun-its, with the exception of the fifth, I realized that they are. Each is essentially a search for a culprit using a limited amount of clues.

    But one doesn’t even need to view the Harry Potter books as mysteries in order to expect Rowling to be a great mystery writer- the immense amount of plotting and interweaving of detail throughout the books is commendable, and alone legitimizes the size of whatever paycheck Rowling got after every book. One of the biggest problems film makers had when adapting the final books of the series is that they came to realize that details that they had carelessly discarded bore great significance in the final books. An invisibility cloak becoming a Hallow, a friend’s pet rat an animagus. We know how skilled J.K. Rowling is at creating red-herrings and false trails already.

    One doesn’t even need to read all of the books to understand this. Just one chapter, in the Goblet of Fire. In an interview with Charlie Rose last year, J.K. Rowling revealed that chapter 11 of the fourth installment of the series was one that she wrote and rewrote the most, in order to draw suspicion away from a newspaper article written about Mad-Eye Moody. The intention was that it was to be written so that it could be interpreted and reinterpreted by other characters and the readers, so that we wouldn’t figure out the truth about Moody’s character until the end. This shows us that Rowling has an eye for the way the reader thinks, something that comes in handy for her towards the climax of Calling.

    Still, I had my reservations (see all 503 pages of The Casual Vacancy).

    But I was pleasantly surprised by The Cuckoo’s Calling. I don’t read much mystery, although I did read a lot of Agatha Christie when I was younger and watch BBC’S Sherlock now. When I do encounter a mystery, however, I judge it by how well it manages to surprise me. For me, this includes the author laying out all the details for the reader at the beginning- no big surprises towards the end masquerading as a clever twist that are really meant to keep the reader from finding out who did it. It’s the job of a good detective—and a good mystery writer—to piece together the clues in a way that the reader doesn’t, but theoretically could have. Rowling does this, balancing a cast of characters and an assortment of clues so numerous that I can’t imagine even the most dedicated mystery savant keeping up. The suspects at one point all seem to have iron-cast motive and opportunity, Rowling quickly outsmarting the reader.

    The plotting and the sheer intricacy of the details woven throughout might be the most impressive that I’ve ever encountered in a modern mystery novel. The utter tautness of the book, quite frankly, blew me away. It sticks to the traditional mystery formula. Rowling doesn’t have a Gillian Flynn-like touch on the genre. There’s the obligatory introduction of each character and clue to the point where it feels like speed-dating, and there’s a long exposition at the end about what happens. I was so impressed by the ending, though, that the cookie-cutter feel of it became subdued. And everything- which is perhaps what was most refreshing- is realistic. There’s no shocking conclusion and- thankfully- no ludicrous segueways between connections.

    Rowling’s gift for prose is evident, once again showing her finesse at maneuvering the English language. Although hardcore mystery fans may get a little tired of Rowling’s Dickensian style, I was always interested. In the sluggish, monotonous mid-morning hours at work I found myself wanting to pick up my copy of the book to see what happened next.

    Her characters are great. The relationship between John and Robin is sweet but covers all its bases- I like that their friendship is just a “friendship,” but it’s not like they’re not going to each consider the romantic possibilities of the other. Cormoran’s handicapped, ex-military character felt a little too John Watson for me, but his role as a character that prevails and doesn’t wallow-for the most part-is satisfying. I enjoyed Robin’s character too, and hope her part is bigger in the next installment.

    The presence of socioeconomic dynamics is featured heavily throughout the novel, and plays key parts in the mystery itself, lingering among character motivations and plot connections. I thought that it was a fascinating feature to include in a mystery novel, and gave it its distinct taste- but I hope that this doesn’t become a recurring theme throughout the series. It’s relevant here, but I prefer it as the atmosphere for one mystery alone. These dynamics are relevant ones in our culture, but the way that Rowling presented it in Vacancy was found unpalatable by a lot of readers. If she keeps it in play for each of her subsequent mysteries the way she does here, then the reader might grow bored. Some series’ find their tone in a shift of setting, going from the slums to high society. It’s the job of the main characters to keep the setting grounded, and with the team of John Bristow and Robin Ellacott, Rowling’s got the materials on hand.

    In other ways, however, it feels like Rowling hasn’t found her tone as a writer. The ambiance here doesn’t take on the meaty, rich qualities that have characterized the most renowned mystery writers- Robert Louis Stevenson’s gift for describing shadowy alleys and nightmarish supernaturalism is his hallmark, Christie equally adept at creating grim atmospheres sans the magical realism. Rowling’s writing is beautiful, but it seems to languish in contemporaneity. In this way it’s not an escapist novel- immersive, yes, but I found myself becoming more aware of the present rather than absconding from it.

    Bottom line, The Cuckoo’s Calling incorporates potent mystery writing, intricate plotting, and likable characters, showcasing some of Rowling’s best skills as a writer, even if her others don’t appeal entirely to the target audience here.

    : I've finished the book, and I was right about Rowling's deftness at mystery writing, particularly around the part about The Chamber of Secrets. Full review to come, but highly recommended. Not phenomenal or on par with Potter, but all the things that didn't work in Vacancy are very much present except that they work in a mystery setting, and that it's all very, very good. Tightest, most intricate plotting I've ever seen in a mystery novel.

    So, finding out that J.K. Rowling published a book under a pseudonym is something I'd always expected (and, embarassingly, searched for), but when the question was brought up as to whether she'd write one, she said everyone would figure it out right away (which, after reading The Casual Vacancy I concur with, as the tagline could have been "WELCOME TO DURSLEYVILLE"), so the idea was sort of debunked for me. I'm slightly disappointed that I haven't heard of it, which means that it hasn't received enough acclaim to cross over to the mainstream on its own, which is less than I'd like. But people-

    a) It's a J.K. Rowling book

    b) We don't have to wait for it. It's already out.

    I

    The Casual Vacancy. But I think that the main issue many fans had was that J.K. Rowling is an author who deals with morality on a huge scale, epic battles of good vs. evil, friendship, loneliness, adolescent turmoil and every other drama you could think of set on a stage featuring dragons and ghosts and goblins. Her knack for making rich as well as lovable characters is her hallmark, so segueing into a world where the characters are not only clueless and blind but also distinctly unlikable couldn't have been very easy for fans. Also, her voice as omniscient third-person narrator is certainly well-written as a stream of prose, but sort of diluted the significance of her characters; Vacancy also lacks the edge that made similar novels by Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections) and Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette), better. After multiple re-readings of Vacancy, I've grown to like the book a lot more- or rather appreciate it more, because while the craft behind it becomes more obvious with each read its overcast mood is unaccompanied by a payoff.

    But this is a crime novel. Why am I excited for this? Because I've always, always thought of The Chamber of Secrets as a mystery novel. You don't even need to look at that book alone to know that Rowling is a master of mystery writing, the seemingly meaningless details sprinkled throughout the Harry Potter series bearing much more gravitas in later installments (much to the chagrin of filmmakers, cutting out important details due to lack of knowledge of said installments). Red herrings and false trails are an essential component in mystery writing, which she is undoubtedly skilled at creating.

    So I'll be much more wary of you now Ms. Rowling, and I while I would still prefer that you return to fantasy, or even science-fiction, and even though I sense that you're becoming a very hit-or-miss author, your hits are still potent enough for me to want to read anything and everything you'll ever write again.

  • Mohammed Arabey
    Jul 14, 2013

    even the epigraph.

    It starts When snow was falling..and a

    fell...

    A famous model star fall off the balcony to her tragic death..the paparazzi gather around her body just as they did when she was alive..

    Her neighbor assert that she heard her arguin

    even the epigraph.

    It starts When snow was falling..and a

    fell...

    A famous model star fall off the balcony to her tragic death..the paparazzi gather around her body just as they did when she was alive..

    Her neighbor assert that she heard her arguing and shouting with a man "The Killer" right before seeing her fall.

    The police declare that's a lie, the DNA proves there was no stranger there..All the evidences and investigation declare she was alone.

    The result is what the police saw was clear from the beginning..Suicide.

    Some say.

    Others say.

    You'll find thorough the investigations and evidences that no trace of a killer in the scene..

    so ...

    ,A beautiful blonde young lady living her Best Romantic days after getting engaged to her boyfriend ,Went to work as a Temp secretary for some office, she "surprised" to find out the business of the office is her long lost childish ambition of work..

    It was an office of A.. Private Detective..

    ,An ex-Military, Private detective Living his Worst days of his life, just separated from his fiance, His office just got one client..with all his debts; He just stuck with a new temp secretary he can't even afford paying her for her only week...unless he saved by a wealthy client..

    ,An unexpected new "wealthy" client to Strike's office, as a favor for old friendship between Strike and the latter's brother .. He came for the detective to dig up a very famous case that he didn't agree with its results...A case of his dead -adopted- sister...A Famous Model...

    Yes..

    is the famous Model we've witnessed her tragic death at the first scene...

    Although I've never been into poems & poetry, But this haunting one

    makes me really into the mode of "The Cuckoo's Calling".

    -As I've written most of this review, right now-

    I used to say in

    That it's better to use Illustrated edition or keep searching in Google Image search for the places he describe brilliantly in his novels. The same is here..

    J.K. Rowling talent in creating a beautifully Magical world in Harry Potter, or realistic fictional Pagford in

    proved to be still great in describing the magic of real places as London.

    You'll really love to see the statue of Eros; Piccadilly Circus while Robin starts a new step in her romantic life..

    You'll walk up and down Denmark Street and 12 Bar Café with its Music Instruments and where The Detective office Locates.

    You'll be in real famous Pubs and Bars in London with its Victorian faces.

    And these pubs' windows view of the 1920s building decorated with statues by Jacob Epstein

    And on the top of all , The elegant Victorian houses at the most wealthy neighborhood and streets like Bellamy Road and Mayfair.

    The bottom line is ,you're invited to a lovely journey into the heart of London at the moment you start the novel.

    -even the secondary ones-

    You'll get into the real Lula or "Cuckoo" as she and her best pals calls her, by the testimony of her brother,the news and articles written about her that you know from Robin's internet search ,and the tales and testimonies of those who were near her, one by one by how close to her they were as the story goes.

    But you'll get better look into her by reading with Strike her personal emails ,clear look as if you looking into her soul,or ghost.

    I promise that,before the half of the novel as in my case, you'll really love to know more about that lovely ,complicated character of Lula...And you'll really Care..and wonder.

    Fame sometimes is a double-edged sword..

    's 500+ was rated 'one star' in few hours after its release JUST because it's not Harry-ish ; or some didn't like Harry Potter or Rowling herself.

    I guess that's why the decision of publishing under Pseudonym..And honestly,as the writer, I wished it'd last longer

    And if you saw the Goodreads main page of the book at 14th.July 2013 you'll find all of the reviews very positive and even 4.1+ rating and it didn't start getting a '1 Star' but after the announcement of the real author.

    "took me 4 weeks reading almost as the same duration of the plot"

    Reading from 2nd Oct. 2013

    To 29th Oct. 2013

    Start writting the review: 18th Oct. 2013

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    Yesterday ,after Midnight it was 14th July.....

    But this News

    J.K Rowling??What?

    This Book is J.K. Rowling's!!!!!

    No more wait day after day for the plot of her new book, the cover, release dates etc..

    No more "negative" reviews just for her name only after just hours of the release of the books As what happened with

    That was what made me really Super HAPPPYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

    "And of course you know how anyone would react when He's 30

    I've Ordered it at the same day from Amazon

    And Truly can't wait

    Mohammed Arabey

    14th July 2013

  • Mohammed Arabey
    Jul 14, 2013

    هكذا يقول البعض

    ..هكذا يقول البعض الاخر

    وفعلا من خلال التحقيقات والملابسات..وتحليلات الطب الجنائي "دي ان ايه" لشقتها..لن تجد اي دليل علي وجود قاتل

    اذن فقد ماتت منتحرة

    فتاة بريطانية شقراء جميلة مرت بأجمل ايام حياتها الرومانسية..خطبها حبيبها في جو رومانسي حالم

    تذهب للعمل كسيكرتيرة مؤقتة لدي مكتب كورموران سترايك

    لم تعرف عن مكتبه شئ من قبل..المؤسسة الخاصة بالتعينات لأعمال مؤقتة لم تقل لها المزيد

    وفوجئت بانه مكتب يعمل في شئ كان يثير خيالها الطفولي

    محقق خاص ,وضابط جيش متقاعد للإصابة..يمر باصعب ايام حياته

    انفصل عن خطيبته..مفلس..ليس لمكتبه عميل سوي واحد فقط..وتأتي له سكيرتيرة من مكتب التعينات المؤقتة يعلم تماما انه لن يستطيع توفير مرتبها لاكثر من اسبوع..الا اذا جاءه

    ..محام من عائله ثرية..يأتي لمكتب سترايك لماض بين الاخير و اخيه المتوفي

    يستأجره للتحقيق في قضية قلبت الرأي العام منذ 3 شهور ولكن نتائج تحقيقاتها لم تكن مرضيه له..فهو مقتنع ان البوليس اهمل في الادله وان وفاه

    لم تكن انتحارا

    اخته..المتبناه ..هي

    ..الموديل..التي شهدنا وفاتها في اول مشهد

    دائما ما تكون الشهره سلاح ذو حدين

    منذ اول يوم صدور الكتاب500+صفحه من قرأ منه جزء او تصفحه سريعا ولم يجده كهاري بوتر قام "فورا"بتقييم الكتاب بنجمه واحده فقط

    كل من لم يعجبه هاري بوتر كان منتظرا لحظه صدور الكتاب ليؤكد فشل المؤلفه ويقيمه بنجمه واحده

    لذلك اعتقد جاء قرارها بصدور هذا الكتاب الجديد بأسم المستعار

    وبصراحه -مثل المؤلفه- كنت اتمني ان يطول الامر ويظل مجهولا لجزئين مثلا

    بالرغم من اني نفسي لا اقرأ سوي الروايات الشهير مؤلفها او التي نالت نجاحا ملحوظا فاني اعتقد اني اذا قرأت الكتاب "اذا ماتوفرت له دعايه كافيه او صدر خبر بقرب تحويله لفيلم"اني بالتاكيد سأعشق اسلوبه وكتابته

    الروايه فعلا بها تلك العنايه بالشخصيات التي طالما نجدها في سلسله هاري بوتر..تشعر ان كورمورن او روبين وحتي لولا لديهم تاريخ وماضي معروف وانت تستكشف لمحات منه من فصل لاخر

    "اذا كنت متابعا لسلسله هاري بوتر وتصفحت يوما موقع "بوترمور" ستجد ان المؤلفه اضافت للموقع تاريخ شخصيات ثانويه كثيره منذ ميلادها"

    بالفعل اذا فتحت صفحه الكتاب يوم 14 يوليو "بعد كشف السر في كل مواقع الاخبار"ستجد ان الكتاب 4+نجوم في الجودريدز وكل الريفيوز والمراجعات عن الكتاب في صفحته تقييمات ايجابيه

    لم يكن هناك تقييم بنجمه واحده الا بعد ان تم كشف السر

    عاما فعلا كنت اتمني ان يظل

    معروفا فقط باسمه الحركي..اشعر فعلا ان جي كي رولينج كانت انتهت بالفعل من كتابه قصه حياته وتاريخه - كما يظهر في اغلفه الطبعه الاولي من الكتاب والتي انتهت كلها في 14 يوليو وصارت تباع بمئات والالاف الدولارات -وكنت محظوظا في حصولي علي احدهم-..ففي هذه الصوره ستري مالن تراه في اي طبعه اخري..معلومات عن المؤلف "الخيالي"روبرت

    ستشعر فعلا قربه جدا من شخصيه سترايك نفسه

    محمد العربي

    من 2 اكتوبر 2013

    الي 29 اكتوبر 2013

    "جزء من الريفيو تم في 18 اكتوبر 2013"

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    بالرغم من الظروف العصيبه التي مررت بها اليوم 14 يوليو 2013

  • Namratha
    Jul 19, 2013

    A first-time author who goes by the unassuming name of

    comes out with a mystery novel called

    . The book receives favourable reviews and is wholeheartedly accepted by the fraction of the populace that reads it.

    And then (

    ), the Sunday Times scratches it’s stubbly chin and wonders how a first-time author with a background in the army and the civilian security industry, could write such an assured debut novel.

    So, af

    A first-time author who goes by the unassuming name of

    comes out with a mystery novel called

    . The book receives favourable reviews and is wholeheartedly accepted by the fraction of the populace that reads it.

    And then (

    ), the Sunday Times scratches it’s stubbly chin and wonders how a first-time author with a background in the army and the civilian security industry, could write such an assured debut novel.

    So, after much sleuthing and an inquisitive:

    followed by a generous bit of loose lips launching the Queen Ship, it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was in fact

    .

    I could almost imagine Tom Riddle’s wand swishing blood-red, curlicue letters in the air:

    Ofcourse, all hell promptly broke loose after that.

    (I am also pretty sure that Madame Rowling went Loki-at- Comic-Con in the privacy of her tastefully done up living room)

    For me, laying my hands on the book (

    ) was nothing short of the Almighty smiling benevolently down at me with a new commandment :

    And believe me, it was a wholly rewarding experience.

    :

    Super-Model

    has plunged to her death from her posh Mayfair balcony. While the media has pegged it down as a suicide by a troubled star, her half-brother is convinced that she has been killed. And so, he hires

    , a down-on-his-luck detective to investigate the case.

    As Strike, aided by his new (albeit temporary) secretary,

    ; gathers clues, gets sidetracked and traverses the length and breadth of London to unravel the truth…he faces his own demons and realizes that things can get really ugly, really fast.

    :

    is a delightfully straightforward murder mystery.

    And at it’s helm is the equally delightful

    . Cormoran is not your conventionally good-looking, lit-cheroot-hanging-seductively-from-his-lower lip, lady-slaying Private Eye. He is a massive, rugby-player sized man, not-so-easy-on-the-eye and burdened with a prosthetic leg (

    ), a vindictive ex, a grimy family background and dire finances.

    But, hell’s bells, he is plain out adorable. His innate decency, his blustering efforts to not sully the sexual waters with his attractive new secretary, his attention to detail and his flashes of vulnerability make him a well-rounded main lead.

    He is not a fabulously perfect hero and so I have the biggest crush on him. And therefore, if the book translates into a movie (

    ), I would fervently hope that Nathan Fillion would fill Cormoron’s shoes. I mean yes, Fillion is a dreamboat, but he has the whole clumsy-yet-suave air down to a tee and we have already seen how perfectly adequate he looks, cast as a film noir detective in CASTLE’s The Blue Butterfly.

    I mean, look at him:

    Coming to Cormoran’s new secretary,

    …she is an absolute star. Robin is freshly engaged to a very proper young man and is gooey-eyed enough to settle for a two point five existence. But she craves excitement. Not the sordid excitement of a secret fling but the childish glee of solving a mysterious mystery. And she’s the perfect foil to Cormoron’s elegant hippo act. Infact, with her strawberry blonde hair and her transparent need to "Run with the

    Detective", she reminded me of Amy Pond:

    Will love transpire between Robin and Cormoran? If it does, I, for one, will be knitting booties for their bonnie babies.

    The Supporting cast of characters is rich and varied. I loved each one of them. From the coke-snorting Tansy to the meticulous security man to the slightly unhinged half-brother to the wolf-masking wearing boyfriend (and prime suspect) to the ego-boosting Ciara Porter to the larger than life rapper to the maliciously camp designer; I loved all their character profiles. Everyone had a solid role to play and everyone was infinitely readable.

    Minion kisses for all:

    For all the Britophiles out there, this is a treat. Modern day London effectively wears the garb of a smoky 1940s lamplit whodunnit. You are utterly charmed and steadily soak in the atmosphere like a comforting soak in a hot tub.

    As for the pace of the plot, it is slow and steady. There are no cliff hangers (

    ) at the end of each chapter. There are no high-octane moments. There are no unexpected plot twists. And yet, you carry on. Your interest never wanes. The story builds up steadily, from a strong skeleton to a steady fleshing out of detail coupled with a handful of sinews worked in with precision and finally, the end result is a fully functioning thriller.

    The story is no great shakes. If you have been a mystery enthusiast, you will figure out the baddie pretty soon. But the joy of reading a good crime novel is to rub your hands in glee as you poke your head over the long-suffering detective’s shoulder and go, in your head, “Ooh, ohh…I KNEW IT!”

    Rowling’s writing is flawless, witty and generously peppered with some choice abuses. Ron Weasley would approve. Her skill is strong as ever and shorn of any pretensions. Her observations on human fallacies are uncomfortably accurate. She holds, what could be a rambling storyline together, purely on the strength of her intuitive grasp on her characters' emotions.

    At the end of the day, she justifies her right to the Writing Throne.

    I come away, utterly and completely enchanted.

  • Nataliya
    Jul 20, 2013

    I'll venture a guess that J.K.Rowling is not a stranger to this feeling. Propelled to household-name fame for her lovely gift of imagination, she gets to experience the uglier side of fans' adoration - the side that comes with suffocating hard-to-meet expectations and stifling atmosphere of demanding hype. Is it any wonder she'd look for a respite in releasing a book under a pseudonym?

    And

    I'll venture a guess that J.K.Rowling is not a stranger to this feeling. Propelled to household-name fame for her lovely gift of imagination, she gets to experience the uglier side of fans' adoration - the side that comes with suffocating hard-to-meet expectations and stifling atmosphere of demanding hype. Is it any wonder she'd look for a respite in releasing a book under a pseudonym?

    And yet yours truly is selfishly celebrating the infamous leak of the unknown mystery writer's true identity since otherwise I would have been quite unlikely to pick up this tome given the ever-growing size of my precariously balanced to-read pile that is beginning to dangerously resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    Lula Landry, a supermodel, falls to her death from her balcony; the police called it a suicide, her brother feels it was foul play and hires Cormoran Strike, a bear-like ex-soldier, to investigate. Propelled by his desperate need for money and aided by his lovely idealistic temporary secretary Robin Ellacott, Strike plunges into the shallow world of celebrity culture and London's rich and wannabe-rich, slowly unraveling the threads of the mystery of Landry's fall.

    It's lacking high stakes or important villains or breakneck-fast pace or shocking twists that seem to have become almost a requirement of the genre. Its language is slow, a bit formal and occasionally reminding me of the early years of the past century rather than modern times.

    spending time with them through conversations and somewhat old-fashioned 'detecting' in a way that to a certain point reminded me of the works of the Queen of the genre, Miss Agatha Christie. But only to a point, as it's missing the annoying know-it-all smug detective and instead has a gruff but very human quite flawed war veteran tuned PI Cormoran Strike:

    I can barely express the enjoyment I experienced from the interactions of Strike with the wide cast of potential suspects and witnesses, most of them belonging to the world of British rich and famous; his ability to zero in on different aspects of their personalities, to study their very essence, to get them to slowly reveal their real frequently shallowly unattractive selves - so often ugly and petty - that satisfyingly replace any number of car chases or gunfights or mad dizzying dashes from place to place to place that I came to expect from the genre.

    But what I really appreciated in this slowly developing character-centered even-keeled narrative was

    - a young woman whose death started it all, who ends up being more than just a springboard for the story but its heart, its centerpiece as we get to glimpse more of her through Strike's eyes, as we see her morph from just a pretty face into a full fleshed presence behind the story.

    Lula may initially appear to have little substance to her, to be little but a blank slate on which gossip-hungry public is eager to project their desires and hopes and even spite. But as the novel progresses, we see the glimpses of her personality and the uglier sides of the world of fame she inhabits -

    Rowling's disdain of such flipside of fame is palpable indeed.

    I quite enjoyed this book. I liked the smart mystery, the unexpected light humor, the apt descriptions (even if at times they would get a tad too wordy), the stinging satire, and, of course, the frequent grave seriousness when Rowling turns her eye to the 'real world' problems.

    I'll easily recommend this book for anyone who'd like a few enjoyable afternoons with a brainy delicious story.

    ----------------------------

    My old pre-review (the one responsible for the discussion in the comments) is below in a spoiler tag:

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  • Emily May
    Jul 21, 2013

    1) This is a negative review. If you are looking for reviews that confirm what you are already certain of (that JKR can do no wrong) here are some examples of positive reviews for you -

    ,

    ,

    .

    2) I used some Mary Poppins gifs to make my point in this review. It seemed funny at the time. If you find MP gifs stupid/annoying/beneath you, then please feel free to go to the reviews I linked before.

    3) I will no longer reply to comments saying I am stupid

    1) This is a negative review. If you are looking for reviews that confirm what you are already certain of (that JKR can do no wrong) here are some examples of positive reviews for you -

    ,

    ,

    .

    2) I used some Mary Poppins gifs to make my point in this review. It seemed funny at the time. If you find MP gifs stupid/annoying/beneath you, then please feel free to go to the reviews I linked before.

    3) I will no longer reply to comments saying I am stupid or didn't get it. I will no longer reply to insults of any kind or condescending suggestions that I read the book again. If you're tempted to write something like this, save both of us some time and read the previous comments for my answers to people like you. I have way too many unwatched episodes of

    to entertain trolls any longer.

    4) I'm sorry to all the people who have been kind and respectful, whether they agreed with me or not. You can just ignore these points.

    ____________________________

    1) Ms Rowling filled my childhood and early teen years with magic. I love Harry Potter and I confess to only adding this book after I found out she was the author. 2) I did not go into this with the intention to compare it to Harry Potter. I did not expect magic or wizards and I fully anticipated this being very different to the HP books. 3) I have read and enjoyed many mystery/crime novels in the past. My favourites being by

    and

    . So, there was no reason why I couldn't have enjoyed this book simply because it wasn't magical Potterland. But I didn't and, after putting a lot of thought into this, I think I finally understand why.

    Here's the sad truth: I can't stand Rowling's writing when she writes for adults. I actually find it painful to read. Let's be clear from the beginning, I started and never finished

    because the opening didn't grab me and there was something about it - something which I couldn't put my finger on - that made it an effort to get through. A certain style to the writing which didn't agree with me. I thought perhaps it was a one-off because I'd read all her other works and never had a problem with her writing style. That's why I jumped at the chance to try another adult book by Rowling and sort out what was evidently a bout of silliness on my part. What this book did give me was an answer to why neither of Rowling's adult books worked for me.

    Rowling writes in an unusual manner. It's not unique to her work for adults, Harry Potter has it too, but the effect had on both is very different. Rowling's style of writing, including the dialogue between characters, is formal to the point of being old-fashioned. Part of me wants to compare it to Austen but I'm cautious of doing so because of the amount of people (usually including myself) who might read that as a compliment. Rowling's formal style doesn't work, for me, when using it in an adult mystery and pairing it with profanity and grisly murders. It feels out of place and weighs down each page with tedious descriptions that use too many awkward similes, metaphors and adjectives.

    Her descriptions all felt a bit off to me. And I particularly didn't like the unsophisticated use of big words. It's like when inexperienced indie authors go crazy with thesaurus.com, using clunky words like "exacerbated" and "exorbitant" in casual sentences that don't benefit from it. The characters in this book never check the time or look at their watches, they "consult" their watches. Think I'm being picky? Try reading whole pages where every sentence replaces the obvious words with complex ones and see how far you get without your brain starting to scream. And it felt like every single noun had at least one adjective before it. Not only that, but Rowling repeats similar adjectives when referring to the objects again. In one sentence, we are told she climbed the "steel stairs" and in the next she's continuing up the "metal stairs". WHY???? And also WHYYYYYY???

    Another example of Rowling's old-fashioned style is her frequent use of expressions like "oh my!" and "goodness!", expressions I'm sure some of you will recognise from Harry Potter characters. What is this? It's like Mary Poppins or Little Women or, I don't know, Little House on the Prairie. And maybe it works fine in all of those, same as it works fine in Harry Potter, but none of those also had a side-helping of profanity and very adult themes. They do all, however, share the formal language style.

    And while I think people were silly to say things about

    like "ohmigod this had, like, noooooo magic and even fewer dark lords" when Rowling clearly said it was an adult mystery book and I wanted to say to those silly people:

    I still think it's entirely relevant to compare the two when looking at Rowling's writing style and the reason why sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn't. The formal tone with simplistic language - like in Harry Potter - is okay, but dense descriptions and over-complicated sentences made it hard work and tedious in this book. It's like a very formal letter with the occasional random swear word thrown in. And it doesn't work. Not for me, anyway. The style simply doesn't fit the content; there's swearing and murders and people rescuing others by grabbing their breasts...

    I'm not even going to talk about the story beyond saying I found it a standard mystery that could have been good if I'd not had these other reasons for not liking it. The killer is not hard to guess for anyone familiar with crime mysteries but that isn't usually what I care about most in crime mysteries anyway. Plus, in this case, I'm just too blinded by my dislike for the writing. *sigh* I think it's fair to say that I'm finally done trying to enjoy Rowling's adult books.

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  • Jane Stewart
    Aug 02, 2013

    Dull & tedious. I was frustrated with the style of writing. There’s no action. It’s all conversation. I wanted it to be over.

    COURTROOM STYLE CONVERSATIONS - TELLING NOT SHOWING:

    Private eye Strike is investigating a death. Throughout the book Strike has long conversations with many different characters. It felt like a courtroom, asking witnesses 30 or more questions one right after the other. Many of these were discussions about what “might have happened. For example “I don’t think he would h

    Dull & tedious. I was frustrated with the style of writing. There’s no action. It’s all conversation. I wanted it to be over.

    COURTROOM STYLE CONVERSATIONS - TELLING NOT SHOWING:

    Private eye Strike is investigating a death. Throughout the book Strike has long conversations with many different characters. It felt like a courtroom, asking witnesses 30 or more questions one right after the other. Many of these were discussions about what “might have happened. For example “I don’t think he would have done it because he was...” “It could have been this. But assume it’s not, then what about that?” “Why couldn’t it have been a letter to...” All these conversations are people “telling” about the past with their own subjective assumptions, conclusions, and some lies. I’d prefer Strike actively doing things to discover clues and some interesting, unexpected, or scary action.

    Even Robin, my favorite character, she went to Oxford to investigate something. We should have watched her and seen her interacting with people. Instead Robin “tells” what she learned to Strike afterwards. Like in the first paragraph, she is answering a bunch of questions about her past activity.

    The author used the word “had” a lot - more “telling” not showing.

    NO CLUES TO THE READER UNTIL THE TELL-ALL AT THE END:

    There are no clues until the last fourth of the book. Then there are a few clues but they don’t mean anything to the reader. For example one character said he noticed drops of water on the floor. I had no idea what that meant until Strike does his “tell all” at the end where he explains the long complicated story of what happened, who lied and why, what caused the water drops, etc. I prefer mysteries where the reader learns some clues along the way that mean something.

    ROBIN IS THE BEST PART:

    The best part was the beginning. I really enjoyed the character Robin, Strike’s temporary assistant. She shows up on her first day just before a new client arrives. She asks Strike if he and the client would like coffee or tea. Strike says yes without thinking. There is no coffee or tea, but she brings it, and Strike has no idea where she got it. A few times he calls her Sandra without thinking. That relationship was fun. Robin has great initiative and ideas. And she does some neat things. But she is only a small part of the story.

    ENDING NOT CLEAR TO ME:

    I didn’t understand “why” John hired Strike. This was answered, but the answer didn’t feel right.

    SWEARING LANGUAGE:

    Strike has a long conversation with Evan who used the f-word every other sentence. I was tired of hearing it. It was a long conversation. Other characters used the f-word less frequently which didn’t bother me as much.

    NARRATOR:

    The narrator Robert Glenister was good. But I grew tired of the British accent he used for many characters. “Look what I got” sounds like “Loo wha I goh.” He was probably being accurate, but it was not easy listening for long periods of time.

    AUTHOR:

    J.K. Rowling wrote this under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

    DATA:

    Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 15 hrs and 54 mins. Swearing language: strong. Sexual language: I didn’t recall any, but Ernesto corrected me saying there were a few lines by Guy Some. Number of sex scenes: one, referred to no details. Setting: current day London area, England. Book copyright: 2013. Genre: mystery.


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