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592 of 630 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 17 months ago by Steven

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There is a fine line between building up the tension in the plot ...
In the interests of full disclosure I'm not a Harry Potter fan - far from it. I'm not convinced that, without the 'accidental' reveal of the author's true identity, that this would have garnered the interest that it did had it been by an unknown author. On the positive side kudos to Ms Rowling for stepping outside her comfort zone, not all authors are brave enough or...
Published 1 month ago by Andyb


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592 of 630 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, 23 April 2013
By 
Steven (CARDIFF, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There is a fine line between building up the tension in the plot ..., 21 July 2014
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This review is from: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) (Kindle Edition)
In the interests of full disclosure I'm not a Harry Potter fan - far from it. I'm not convinced that, without the 'accidental' reveal of the author's true identity, that this would have garnered the interest that it did had it been by an unknown author. On the positive side kudos to Ms Rowling for stepping outside her comfort zone, not all authors are brave enough or talented enough to do so. A (just)passable first attempt at a new genre. On the negative side as others have pointed out, far too much description in the early going and not enough happening. The plot doesn't make any substantial strides until around about the half way mark, which for an unknown author might not be enough for the average reader to be convinced to stick with it. There is a fine line between building up the tension in the plot and invoking a feeling of 'come on get on with it' in the reader. Also I had a strong feeling that I knew (correctly as it turned out) how it was going to end at about the three quarter mark. For me after all the descriptive prose early on, there was a bit of an unseemly rush to the ending. The jury is still out on whether I will buy the second in the series, certainly would not consider it at the full price it is currently available.
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132 of 143 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
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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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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 5 Aug 2013
By 
Chantal Lyons (Kent, 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable crime novel, 4 July 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a very good first novel - a well-written and engrossing read which promises to be the start of a very good series.

The plot revolves around the supposed suicide of a supermodel being investigated by ex-army detective, now private detective, Cormoran Strike. I have to say that the ludicrously macho name almost put me off but I'm very glad it didn't. This is a very well-told story with convincing characters, an excellent sense of place in London and exceptionally good, natural-sounding dialogue. I am delighted to say that there is very little "action" - no car chases, no-one gets beaten up or knocked out, not a single gun is fired...Robert Galbraith just weaves a thoroughly gripping story from character and proper detective work like speaking to witnesses, viewing crime scenes and so on. The plot moves slowly but never drags or loses its way, and there is also a slightly predictable but sweetly enjoyable story about his new temporary assistant.

The prose is generally excellent. I think the book's real strength is the dialogue; I found the many interview scenes utterly engrossing and the various voices thoroughly believable as well-drawn characters emerge. This made the whole book come to life for me and develop as a very classy crime novel.

I was surprised by how good this was and warmly recommend it to anyone who likes a thoughtful, well written and gripping crime story.
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54 of 59 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
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Promise But Holes left at the End, 30 April 2014
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A supermodel commits suicide, all has moved on but someone is not convinced her collection of problems would lead to this and a down on his luck detective is hired to investigate.

I like the style of this book. The event occurs, we see the intial evidence and we then follow a detective unpeeling the mystery. Not a lot of action happens but we follow the clues and it's fun seeing if you can solve the case from what the detective sees. I saw somethings coming but far from all. There's a good bunch of characters to follow, a messed up family and lots of people with potential motive.

I liked the characters and it would have been up for 4 stars but the ending left too much unexplained. The explanation of the main event itself is pretty full with a few minor niggles. What's not explained (fully) is how a particular character is traced but more seriously, a very significant decision an important character makes is not explained when it seems doing the opposite is in their best interests. The decision is however good for a murder mystery.

It won't put me off getting the next one but it won't be the hardback and I'll expect better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The illegitimate child of Jack Reacher and John Rebus played by Tom Baker, 17 May 2014
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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In summary, Cuckoo Calling is the work of a good storyteller, who is less skilled at creating original, three dimensional characters. However despite this being a story which rattles along and definitely gripped this reader, one of the central structural supports is extremely dodgy. It's difficult to explain without creating spoilers, but the murderer knowingly does something which, if s/he hadn't, s/he would've got away scot free. There is an explanation for his/her motives but I found it somewhat thin and some distance from being convincingly credible.

The central character is private investigator Cormoran Strike. I would like one day to pick up a detective novel where the hero is a normal, well adjusted person, with a happy but ordinary family background, a moderately successful career/business, a run of the mill name and no addictions. in short I would like a detective with no USP. And that is precisely what Galbraith/Rowling gives us here. The unobtrusively named Strike is an ex military policeman, who lost half a leg while in the army. He is the son of a rockstar and a super groupie, and has recently broken up with his psychotic girlfriend. His business is in trouble and he regularly over indulges in alcohol. Oh, and he gets to bed a super model. He's a cross between Lee Childs' Jack Reacher and Ian Rankin's John Rebus. Physically, if this book had been written in the 70s / 80s he would've been played by Tom Baker.

Immediately after taking on a new temp (ditzy but intelligent) Strike is visited by a lawyer (pin stripe suit) who wants him to investigate the death of his adoptive sister, a famous model with an indie rockstar (dresses in black)boyfriend, who the police believe to have committed suicide.

This throws Strike into the world of London celebrities, models, musicians and fashion designers (bitchy, screamingly camp). For all that it is difficult to portray the world of celebrity in fiction, with characters too often appearing as pastiches of real life figures, this is one of the stronger parts of the book. I may be reading too much in, given the author, but a description of being "papped' and the disorientation caused by a blitz of flash bulbs did ring true.

I also liked the feel of London in the book. I've recently enjoyed Ben Aaronovitch's PC Peter Grant books. Admittedly those are supernatural stories (now there's a USP) but they have a similar tone of being grounded in a living, breathing modern London.

Less successful are the attempts to write accents phonetically, these come across as somewhat stilted and not a little patronising. There are also what appeared to be some fairly careless errors of detail. A mobile phone receives a text message in a tube train while underground (this is pre 2012). Strike sets up a portable TV and can immediately watch a soccer match which would've been on Sky. They aren't major issues, they're just the kind of things you'd expect to be correct in something as detailed as a detective novel.

So this is an entertaining read. Its a reasonably good example of a detective novel. There are plenty of suspects and plenty of dead ends for the reader to go down before the real villain is revealed. It's just a bit of a shame that one detective continues to have such a massive influence right across the genre. While Strike's parent may be Rebus and Reacher, his grandfather is the inevitable Philip Marlowe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all that, 16 May 2014
It is more than a touch ironic that this mystery novel about the cult of celebrity became a best-seller only when its famous author was revealed. It is even more ironic that as Lula Landry's life of fame and riches masks an emptiness and lack of identity, so too does this novel's public reputation hide that it never really knows what it's doing. As a detective novel, it suffers from a complete lack of revelations and/or twists until the very end of its 500 pages and a very generic PI set-up. As a character-based drama, it suffers from two-dimensional characters and pulled punches. Assistant Robin is meant to be torn between the exciting world of private investigation and her disapproving fiancé, but the latter only appears very briefly in the novel and her choice to remain with Strike is painfully dragged out across the whole novel; Strike himself is jaded but not too jaded, troubled but not too troubled and flippant but not too flippant, and his personal life sub-plot goes nowhere. As social commentary on celebrity, the novel is too black-and-white; characters are invariably shallow, self-obsessed caricatures and media/public interest in models/rappers/et al is extrapolated to a bizarre degree of rabid. Despite this almost fantastical edge, the novel is for no apparent reason firmly grounded in April/May 2010, around the last general election. It's as if Rowling just couldn't be bothered to update the cultural references when the book took longer to write than expected. It's a strange read, and while the mystery itself is wrapped up with a nice level of closure I felt very unsatisfied when reaching the end. I doubt I'll be reading any more Strike novels.
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2 of 2 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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