I would not have read this book if J. K. Rowling hadn't been revealed as the author. The leak of The Cuckoo's Calling's true creator flooded me with interest in the novel (not to mention swelled its sales -- 4000% increase almost over night? Unheard of.). I went into it with all the hope of a sincere Rowling fangirl who was a little downhearted after an unsuccessful attempt to get into The Casual Vacancy.
From the very beginning of Cuckoo, I thought to myself, If no one had leaked JKR as the author, I would have known! I would have knownnnn!! Of course, there is no way to be sure of that; it was just a feeling. All the excitement I felt catch hold in myself the first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came surging up through my heart in a moment I can only describe as pure nerdy giddiness. Rowling as Galbraith does exactly what we loved her for through 7 Harry Potter books: She created noble, bright, magnetic characters that immediately engage your sympathies. To be sure, they have their flaws. Robin the temp spends her whole walk to her new short-term job as a private investigator's assistant sighing over her recent engagement (which I found profoundly annoying). All the romance ends quickly, and painfully, when a woman storms out of the PI's office, pursued by a huge man who nearly knocks Robin down a very steep spiral staircase — saving her only by hauling her back up (unfortunately) by the only thing he could grab hold of... her breast. Robin's savior happens to be her embarrassed new boss, private investigator Cormoran Strike. As we get to know Strike (former military man; amputee; illegitimate son of a rock star and a supergroupie; impoverished and deeply in debt to multiple parties; on-again, off-again fiancé of a beautiful, manipulative, spoiled rich girl) the more we yearn for his success not only in life, but in the case he's just taken on: The apparent suicide of young supermodel Lula Landry.
Her incredibly public death reflected her life, with the tabloids leeching on every tiny detail of the case. Landry's adoptive brother, a middling lawyer named John Bristow, suspects that the police and journalists must have missed something — his sister, though bipolar and on medication for her condition, would not have killed herself. Her friends mostly agree with his assessment, while the police are adamant that deaths like hers very often come without warning. Strike, in desperate need of money, feels a little slimy taking a case he feels was probably pretty well proved, but when he shakes hands with Bristow, he comes at Landry's death with a remarkably keen eye. As the investigation narrows toward a surprising conclusion, Landry shapes up to be a compelling character in her own right. Most excitingly, Robin the temp, who since her youth has longed wistfully to be a PI, takes a huge interest in the case, investigating leads, taking on ad hoc personae, and getting Strike closer to the truth.
|Illustration: Matt Blease|
- Abby, Reference Librarian