book reviews by Althea

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith *****

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(Cormoran Strike #1)

First question, I suppose: Could I have told this book was written by J.K. Rowling if I hadn’t known it was by her?
If I had just read Harry Potter: No. If I had read ‘The Casual Vacancy’ (which I have): Yes, probably.
Would I ever have been convinced that this was a book by a military man(As her faux-bio claimed)? Probably not.

‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ is firmly a genre mystery, and follows the conventions of genre. However, it’s really well-done. I eventually decided to up my review to 5 stars,because I really cannot think of an equivalent book that has been done better.

Rowling has a true talent for convincing the reader that a character is a real, believable, fully developed person with an economy of prose. In just a couple of lines, you can ‘see’ one of her people as vividly as if you’d just passed on the street. As they develop through the story, they seem like people you’ve known, met, worked with…

The mystery, at first, seems a bit typical – down-and-out private detective, with the help of his lovely young temp secretary, must investigate the death (presumed suicide) of a celebrity model, set in present-day London.

The case has a lot of good, unpredictable twists and turns, and along the way Rowling works in a lot of social commentary – mostly along the same lines as seen in ‘A Casual Vacancy’ – but in a more urban setting, with the addition of the culture of celebrity.

I really hope that Rowling does write more in this ‘series’ – even though her pseudonym was so quickly ‘outed.’ I very much enjoyed it.


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