The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

The Cuckoo’s Calling: Murder Without the Mystery (SPOILERS)


I am a huge “Harry Potter” fan, so I decided to check out some of J. K. Rowling’s other works.  First stop: “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” which is written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. (I will be referring to the author as Galbraith throughout my review).

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” was a novel about the unlucky detective Cormoran Strike and his quest to discover who killed supermodel, Lula Landry.

Galbraith went into a lot of detail on each of the characters.  He described their childhood, families, career backgrounds.  Galbraith succeeded in creating characters with deep roots, making them more realistic and human.

In “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” the paparazzi was a character in itself.  Throughout the book, the paparazzi influenced several of the character’s lives, most particularly, Lula’s.  In one scene, Galbraith compared driving through a crowd of paparazzi to a war zone.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” had shifting point of views.  It was mostly third person omniscient from Strike’s perspective, but sometimes, the focus character would shift to others such as Robin or Wardle.  Occasionally, this shift would occur in the same scene, causing a bit of confusion.  I didn’t understand the reason for the shifts in point of view.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” was heavy on the dialogue and light on the description.  Most of the action in the book was Strike interviewing Lula’s friends, family, and acquaintances.  The lack of description made the story less interesting.  It also prevented me from getting too immersed in the world of the story.  I’m a visual learner and would have liked to have “seen” more of the setting and characters.

There were a few instances when Galbraith told us what was happening instead of showing us.  It made the story less interactive.  One example was the line, “The lawyer handed it over as though unsure he would trust Strike with it.”  I assumed that John hesitated in handing over the envelope, but Galbraith could have described exactly how John handed over the envelope: his particular movements and facial expressions.  Those descriptions would have relayed John’s hesitation without needing to explicitly say it.  It would have made me feel like I was actually there instead of hearing about it secondhand.

Personally, I didn’t really care for any of the characters.  None of them were very likable.  They had almost too many flaws, and I had difficulty sympathizing with them.

I thought Robin was going to be more of a central character, especially since we got her point of view earlier in the book than Strike’s.  I also wanted to know more information about her career goals and her fiancé.  We just touched the surface.

For being a detective novel, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was a bit boring.  There was nothing pulling me forward.  And there wasn’t any mystery.  I had no reason to believe that Lula’s death was anything other than suicide.

I was not expecting John to be Lula’s murderer.  I didn’t pick up on any of the evidence; in fact, there wasn’t much evidence at all.  When Strike reported his findings to John, he kept saying “I think,” as if it was all just speculation.  I did not find his conclusions believable.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be reading the sequels.  “The Cuckoo’s Calling” just didn’t do enough for me.

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2015 by in Book and tagged , , , , , .
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