To better my own query-writing skills, I’ve taken to reading the back of books and the side flap of book jackets. The Cuckoo’s Calling was one of the books that I processed at work. The plot sounded interesting, but not unlike every other hard boiled murder mystery. I almost passed it up. I picked up this book for one reason: the author.
Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. I enjoyed No Vacancy, even thought a lot of other people didn’t. She has a magically way with words. She can write characters like it’s nobody’s business. The Cuckoo’s Calling is no different.
We follow the weathered Cormoran Strike on the trail of the mysterious suicide of model Lula Landry. Strike is as gruff as he is likable. He uses his detective skills and extraordinary observation as he dives into the rich and luxurious world of Lula Landry, filled with slippery supermodels, vain designers, attention-hungry groupies, producers, and suspicious family members who’d rather Lula stay dead.
Galbraith masterfully brings his characters off the page, even the larger-than-life supermodels who live in a completely different world than the average person. From the way that the rich live and operate, to the lowly and desolate poor of London, each character feels real and complete. They are not side characters meant to advance Strike in his investigation. They have their own motives, desires, and fears.
Galbraith, while a marvelous writer, writes with a thicker style. The pages are stuffed with details and descriptions. He uses adverbs with dialog tags. The Cuckoo’s Calling is thick; like No Vacancy, and I had a hard time getting into the story. It’s slow-paced. However, each sentence added onto the previous, and none were useless. It might not be my style, but it was engaging and entertaining. It took me a good three weeks to read the first two-thirds of the book, and a single night to read the last third.
I gave The Cuckoo’s Calling a 5 out of 5 because the characters were fantastic and well written. The setting felt real. The plot kept me engaged. The thicker writing style isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed it.