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The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

(Audio)

I loved the Harry Potter series. I was disappointed by A Casual Vacancy. So I was nervous, going into this book, thinking I might hate it as well. It didn't immediately grab me, but by the end of the first disc, I was definitely hooked. I fell in love hard with this book--so much so that, when finished, I really wanted to read/write some fanfic just so I could live in their world some more.

Which is not to say I loved their world. I do love the characters and the private detective part of it, but the murder mystery is set in the world of the rich & famous, revolving around modeling and the fashion industry and all the good and bad that comes with that.

The mystery was interesting and complex. I guessed the person who did it... but I also guessed almost every other character in the entire novel. Every time I was sure it was one character, Strike would interview him or her and I was convinced at the end of the scene it couldn't be that character after all. And there was NO way I could have come up with how the murderer actually did it! So fascinating and clever! I loved the big reveal and how it played out.

But I also loved the characters. When we meet Strike, he's dealing with his war wound (amputated leg) from Afghanistan, he's got loan/debt collecters literally knocking on his door, and his as-good-as-fiance just broke up with him and kicked him out. So you've got a hard-nosed, world-weary detective trying to make ends meet with no cases, sleeping on a camp bed in his office. And you have a plucky gal Friday temp receptionist who falls in love with the fascinating life of investigation. They're pretty common mystery tropes in play, sure, but they're done so well and in such a fresh way that I couldn't get enough of them. Strike is so good at his job, reading people, getting to the truth, knowing what to say and how to get people to say what they don't want to. And Robin was so good with Strike.

And I even loved Lula, the young woman who died and started this mystery story rolling. I loved seeing all the sides of her and seeing her come alive, even though she was dead in the story. I loved when Strike felt like he was getting to know her as well--seeing her as a person, not a case. All the characters were fascinating to get to know (even if I suspected, like, every single one of them at one point or another). I wasn't so thrilled with the "adopted character going through an identity crisis" trope, but it worked for her, as did the issues of race that were presented/factored in. And I thought both were important things to explore through her character.

I loved all the little details, the complexity of the mystery. I don't read a lot of mysteries--certainly not many lately--but this was one I definitely didn't see coming, and I liked that. I also liked that every detail presented was important to the story in some way, not just to set the scene, but in a big way. That takes a lot of work and attention and, as a writer, I can really respect the effort that must have gone into it.

There were certainly a few little things that made me smile or do a double-take, as a Harry Potter fan--a few little phrases I associate just with HP books, a statement about fans, a line about writing fantasy.

I'm so glad I read this book and cannot wait until the second one is out. I want more now! (Preferably with a better cover. That girl on the front isn't my mental picture of Lula).

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