I think that by now everyone knows that Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling’s pseudonym so I’m not dropping any clangers by referring to it here. When I was telling a colleague at work I was reading The Cuckoos Calling she asked if I thought it would have been published or had such good reviews if it wasn’t written by JK Rowling. My answer was an emphatic ‘yes’ on both accounts. This is clearly a novel written by a skilled story teller with a great eye for detail.
The sleuth protagonist in this story is the troubled war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike. His brief is to investigate the presumed suicide of a model who falls to her death from the balcony of her Mayfair apartment. He does this by a careful process of interviewing and fastidious clue collection. This all happens at a measured pace throughout the story and despite or maybe because of the attention given to every stage of evidence retrieval it never becomes tedious.
There is a fairly sizeable cast in this novel, consisting of models, paparazzi, rock stars, and fashion designers. Galbraith / Rowling is able to provide a level of detail that I suspect could only come from personal experience and understanding of the workings of life under the media spotlight. The location of the novel (London) also stands out and the city almost becomes a character itself as integral as it is to the mystery.
As in all the best detective dramas, an assistant is needed. In this case Cormorans assistant becomes his office temp Robin. Robin provides just the right amount of loyalty, intelligence and integrity as together they solve the mystery. This is a relationship I imagine will grow and develop in future Cormoran Strike novels.
This is a big book, 550 pages worth of cleverly put together crime fiction. As with lots of crime fiction there is lots going on in this book so dedicated reading time is needed to get the best from it. I found I enjoyed it most when I had time to read a sizeable chunk in one sitting. Like all good murder mysteries should, this kept me guessing until the end.
I can’t wait to read Robert Galbraiths follow up novel ‘The Silk Worm’