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621 of 660 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
I came across this novel when browsing the new releases and thought it looked interesting and worth a read. I'm glad I took the punt because the Cuckoo's Calling is a terrific mystery story. The brother of a troubled model calls in a private investigator following her death in what the police are treating as suicide. Everything points to this but as we get deeper in to...
Published 23 months ago by Steven

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars **** This review contains massive spoilers ****
Please only read this review if you don't mind having the story spoiled for you.

This is JK's entry into the crime world of fiction. Having read the entire Harry Potter series, and having heard the hype around this book I saw it at my local supermarket, in paperback, and thought I'd give it a punt.

The book essentially revolves around Mr Strike, a...
Published 12 months ago by Mr. B. Shepherd


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621 of 660 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, 23 April 2013
By 
Steven (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I came across this novel when browsing the new releases and thought it looked interesting and worth a read. I'm glad I took the punt because the Cuckoo's Calling is a terrific mystery story. The brother of a troubled model calls in a private investigator following her death in what the police are treating as suicide. Everything points to this but as we get deeper in to the novel it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

The private investigator Cormoran Strike is a terrific character: ex-army turned P.I going through a messy separation from his fiancé and whose business is in real financial trouble he is immediately sympathetic. The other characters, from eccentric fashion designers to drug-addicted musicians feel real and the dialogue is believable. The mystery is satisfyingly complex with a nice conclusion that I didn't see coming.

One of the things that really set this book apart for me in the crowded genre of private investigator fiction was the quality of writing, depth of character and the wonderful sense of place Galbraith brings to the novel. Galbraith's vivid descriptions bring the story to life and we feel like we are there with Strike and his temporary secretary Robin as they solve the mystery. I suppose I would describe this as quite an old-fashioned style thriller with an emphasis placed on interviewing witnesses and gathering clues rather than action and this really helped with the character development.
I hope there will be more books in the series and I'll certainly read them if they are released. Very highly recommended.

p.s: excellent narration of the audio book from Robert Glenister.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars **** This review contains massive spoilers ****, 14 Mar. 2014
Please only read this review if you don't mind having the story spoiled for you.

This is JK's entry into the crime world of fiction. Having read the entire Harry Potter series, and having heard the hype around this book I saw it at my local supermarket, in paperback, and thought I'd give it a punt.

The book essentially revolves around Mr Strike, a detective, who happenstance hires a temp to be his secretary. He gets hired to investigate the murder of a super model, by her brother. The story effectively involves the detective going around interviewing and questioning all parties who knew the super model in order to formulate his overall thesis on who done it.

The final thesis is that it was the hirer who done it. Why? Because he's crazy and wanted to frame the girl's real brother. Seriously? The entry of said brother occurs last minute for crying out load - how did the brother ever think that Mr Strike would even ever find him let alone frame him? The side story of the detective's dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend, what did that add to the story? I guess JK was trying to create a back story by saying that Mr Strike's mum was a druggie and his dad a famous waster, but again, what did this add to the story? His 2 minute recollection of his life in the army, again what did this add? The reason this becomes annoying is that at 550 pages this book felt like it just dragged on in places for no real reason other than to just prat on about inconsequential things. Had all the waster info been deleted this book would have been shorter and the story would have moved along a lot quicker.

At numerous points the story just seemed predictable and boring. Who didn't see the little tramp girl getting popped off or that Mr Crazy had killed off Mr Strike's friend when they were kids or the secretary getting hired full time in the end? I'd like to know what all that rubbish about the death threats were, or whether his girlfriend really was pregnant. Did JK just forget about those bits towards the end? The rushed job of inserting a, quick lets stop some murders going on because there's a psycho on the lose, within the last 50 pages seemed like an attempt to give the end a bit of urgency. Unfortunately this came across as being artificial and did not have the desired effect.

Overall I found the writing prose still to be stuck in Harry Potter mode, i.e. simplistic kiddy friendly sentence structure. The reason this was note worthy is that the book contains a large amount of swearing, and in numerous places unnecessarily so. This led me to feel that I was reading a book for teenagers rather than adults despite clearly being aimed at adults.

My conclusion is that the book was OK (shrugs shoulders OK). The story was boring at points, the plot a bit far fetched at points and yet predictable at others, and the writing prose was confused in terms of market audience. My 3 stars is being generous with my overarching opinion being that I'd prefer JK to just stick with writing Harry Potter, something her writing style far better suits.
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141 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a crime debut - even if the writer is J K Rowling, 28 July 2013
By 
Mr (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
So many reviews and that tells the story alone. J K Rowling is a literary sensation, after Harry Potter I confess I was slightly let down by Casual Vacancy, but I think I didn't bring enough to the book, and some of the overt politics grated.
However this book I loved. It shows a strong narrative ability that gives the lie to those that think that Rowling is just "lucky". She clearly works hard at her plotting and though over long in places the chapters keep pace and are always illuminating the plot.

I like the Robert Galbraith name, it gives her a chance in the tradition of other authors (King, Christie) to step away from the Potter brand - as a crime debut novel it is very good and I for one hope that she keeps the conceit going when she writes book two. The novel feels contemporary and realistic to the London I know and grounded in realistic and rich characters. Her opening chapters about the arrival of a temp to a new job ring true to someone who has temped and show that she has done her research and kept her grounded feel that the early Potter books had. The thing to remember about Rowling is that she writes books that are worth reading, she may not be writing the kind of literary fiction that one would study on an English Lit course, but she IS writing the kind of work that connects, enthrals and entertains readers. Sometimes a little misanthropic in its view of life but all in all a very absorbing read and I look forward to more in the series.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoo's Calling, 5 Jun. 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
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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.

* After I reviewed this book I discovered it was, obviously, by J K Rowling. I hope that she continues the series, as I thought it was extremely good, although I have to admit to never having read (or, indeed, wanting to read) the Harry Potter books. If you do read this, then please judge it as a crime novel on it's own merits.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, 10 Aug. 2013
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I finally succumbed to temptation and decided to get this book. I quite enjoyed 'The Casual Vacancy' but I somehow couldn't see J K Rowling managing to pull off a mystery type novel. Reading this though I found out how wrong I was. Set in 2010 this book starts off with the death of supermodel Lula Landry. Plummeting to the hard ground from her apartment it seems like just another suicide.

Three months later, Cormoran Strike, an ex 'Red Cap' and now private detective is called upon by Lula's half brother to look at the case, as he is convinced it was really a murder. Could it really have been murder, and not suicide?

J K Rowling could have done this more as a crime noir story, which as such would have been okay, but not have the same impact as it has in this format, which is more along the lines of a classic style whodunit. The characters are fully drawn and believable, as we take a walk in the shadow of the rich and famous. With red herrings and manipulations going on, as well as secrets, there is a lot to keep you interested in this story, which readers of crime fiction should really enjoy.

This isn't crime noir, it isn't a cosy mystery, what you have here is a classic style whodunit with a contemporary setting that is an ideal read. I have heard there will be another novel next year, so one wonders what Cormoran Strike will be investigating then.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Padding, 30 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
There's a half-decent story in here that would have been much improved if the book had been trimmed by around 200 pages and all the padding and repetition omitted.

The story starts with a famous model falling to her death from her apartment balcony and the rest of the book is essentially about whether she jumped or was pushed. Personally, I think the story would have been better if it hadn't focused so much on minor celebrities and their over-pampered lifestyles.

Cormoran Strike, a private investigator, and Robin, his temporary secretary, are interesting characters with potential and I hope they're explored a little more deeply in future books. I also hope the humour that was occasionally present in the first half of this book resurfaces.

Although I found this book okay, given the author's reputation and obvious talent, I expected more. There are plenty of little-known authors out there that are writing - and sometimes self-publishing - far better books than this.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 5 Aug. 2013
By 
Chantal Lyons "C.S. Lyons" (England) - See all my reviews
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The Cuckoo's Calling takes hold of you, almost gently, from the first page, and while it isn't a perch-on-the-edge-of-your-seat read, it is entirely engrossing.

For the plot alone I would give three stars. It became rather difficult to follow towards the end, thanks in no small part to the increasing withdrawal of the narrative from Cormoran Strike's deducting mind - something that I suppose was intended to keep the reader in suspense, but still affected my degree of immersion in the story. The big reveal at the end felt, if not contrived, then predictable in its total unpredictability, and relied on the staple monologue from the protagonist to explain how exactly the event that the book revolves around happened.

It's the characters that make The Cuckoo's Calling. Strike himself is sympathetic, but Robin, his secretary temp, is the easiest to warm to. They both feel real, and as a result the world they inhabit feels real (apart from said slightly-contrived thriller elements). It helps that JK Rowling writes about London like a long-time resident. Special mention should go to the prose as well. The balance is just right - not too florid, and vivid enough to elevate it above the usual gently-paced crime story.

One of the things I suppose you'd call a defining element of The Cuckoo's Calling is its perspective on the world of celebrity. Almost every single famous person in the book is portrayed as uncompromisingly odious, obsessed with only the most shallow of things, sometimes to the point of life and death. Perhaps JK Rowling hasn't had an entirely enjoyable experience as a famous person herself - you get the impression she'd happily have all her success without any of the fame - and it feels like this personal hatred bleeds through the story. It didn't put me off the story, and indeed, there's some great character description as a result. It was just...interesting.

I hope knowing that JK Rowling is the author hasn't coloured my view of The Cuckoo's Calling. Certainly I would not have picked it up without knowing - crime novels always seem to blur together these days for me. But I'm very glad I read it, and it is certainly of a higher calibre than many other books in its genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hackneyed prose and disappointing plot, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
As one of the very few readers who didn't warm to Harry Potter, this was rather a silly purchase by me.
I have struggled to get past the first chapter and simply soldiered on.
The characters are caricatures and the plot didn't grab my attention.
No doubt is will attract film-makers - perhaps that's the name of the game now.
In that form, it may be more acceptable but I can't recommend this as a good or even satisfactory read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull as Ditchwater, 16 Sept. 2014
By 
D Webster "djelly" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Pedestrian writing, stereotyped characters in stereotyped situations.

I think the only saving grace is the passable suspense in the last 3 chapters. I disliked the stereotypical unattractive physiognomy = poor character equation and do not believe that an academic would have an affair with Luala's mother who was also an identical working class character from JK's other novels.

Perhaps I am not star struck enough to enjoy this? I was just not impressed by the poorly drawn portraits of characters in modern day life such as Roni Wood, Kate Moss and Peter Docherty. I would far prefer to read about them from their own writing.

JK what happened to creating the world anew through your writing?
Not recommended despite what the sychophantic rnewspaper reviewers say.
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236 of 266 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East End Girls and West End Boys, 15 April 2013
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
It's hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes The Cuckoo's Calling such a terrific new Private Investigator crime fiction debut. On the surface it seems straightforward, unexceptional and unambitious, everything fits the established conventions, there's nothing immediately new that stands out, and yet it's an utterly compelling read with strong characters that wraps you up completely and thrillingly into the investigation.

There's certainly nothing significantly new in the nature of the Private Detective at the centre of the book and series. Yes, the circumstances are a little different and the family background a little more colourful than most, but at heart, Cormoran Strike doesn't stray too far from the template - ex-army rather than ex-police, with a complicated personal life, a detective business that is on its last legs (no pun intended on Strike's service injury), clients are drying up, the loan that has set him up in London's Denmark Street is being called in and he's in the middle of a messy break-up with his fiancée. Nothing particularly noteworthy so far, not even the fact that the temp agency has just landed him with a new partner - sorry, a new secretary, Robin, who is only supposed to be around for a few weeks, but of course ends up making herself quite useful, not to say even indispensable, creating the obligatory mismatched team in the process.

There's nothing particularly exceptional either about the high profile case - the death of a supermodel - that lands in his lap and keeps the wolves away from the door just that little bit longer. Falling to her death from her third-floor Mayfair apartment, the verdict of suicide is obviously not accepted by the distraught brother of the family that had adopted her, even though she clearly had problems in the run up to her death, much of it stemming from a troubled relationship with her boyfriend, a Pete Doherty-style musician. For some reason there is particular emphasis made of the setting and the timing of the case, setting it specifically in London in 2010, in the last days of the Brown Labour government, without there seeming to be any particular social or political point to be drawn from this. Or perhaps there is some significance in the Amy Winehouse/Kate Moss celebrity lifestyle issues and pre-press hacking revelations that is worth exploring or considering. Even so, it hardly seems to be a subject that is going to make any major revelations.

And yet, The Cuckoo's Calling does indeed prove to be utterly compelling in its depiction of every aspect of this world that the investigation delves into. Like the main investigator team, the various colourful characters that they come into contact with during the investigation do often appear to fit standard types - film producers, fashion designers and big business corporate types on one side, contrasted that with ordinary working class security guards, chauffeurs, hangers-on and wannabes from the other side of London. Every bit of behaviour and every line of dialogue however is well-chosen, precise, accurate and revealing of the nature of the characters, and all the social content that is dredged up seemingly in passing proves to be in some way relevant to the questions of identity and background that the case raises.

If it's hard to pick out anything particularly striking or original about The Cuckoo's Calling, there is however this feeling of it being of a whole. The Private Investigator and his secretary Robin are not outsiders looking in on the lives of the people in their case, but they are as much a part of the whole fabric of the work, their involvement giving an authentic dynamic that interacts with the specific case and the people involved here and gets to the heart of the matter in a surprisingly effective and realistic manner. Undoubtedly, the strength of any great new series of detective fiction lies in establishing a firm connection between the PI and the world they operate in, and Robert Galbraith's creation of Strike and Robin in the contrasts of London life is subtly masterful, but just as importantly, the case is also brought to a good resolution. This is a very fine start to what looks like being a richly rewarding new crime series.
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