Friday, May 15, 2020

Robert Galbraith - The Cuckoo's Calling

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Comment: I decided to pick this book because I saw a glowing recommendation by someone whose taste in books I tend to share. I was looking for to be impressed and I was, although this wasn't as powerful for me as it was for who recommended it to me.

In this book written by famous JK Rowling, under a pseudonym, we have a brilliant crime investigation and a quirky cast of characters, some of which turn out to be quite endearing, especially private detective Cormoran and his new secretary Robin.
Cormoran Strike has a very famous father but he tries his best to stay out of his radar and does his own thing, including the fact he was in the army and left because of an injury.
He's a little down on his luck when the story begins and slowly we get to see his powers of deduction come to play as he investigates the death of a supermodel and everything related to her young life. But the case isn't as simple as he imagined and the more he discovers, the more unsettling every clue is. Will Cormoran be able to put things together before something fatal happens?

I'd say the most impressive detail of this book to me was the whole tone and atmosphere the author has created. Throughout the novel, the slight feeling of oppression, of a road without a stable end, of something that isn't quite right on one's nerves never really left me. 
I figure the intention is for the reader to feel a weight has come out when the characters finally get on with a better life, namely how the protagonist goes from practically destitution to a hopeful future in the end.

This little thing has convinced me the author planned and executed this story very well, all the details and steps taken from one point to another were constructed in a very precise manner. It was wonderful to see her eye for detail in this book. I can also see the room for improvement in terms of psychological elements concerning the main characters, Cormoran and Robin, as well as complexity in their lives being a key element in the future novels too. This has been well thought, for certain.
Here we got simple glimpses on them but it's fascinating to think where it will go.

Cormoran is quite a character. We have an idea of his personality by his actions and what little things we see him do and think of his past. I confess there were time I felt a little sorry for him but then again he wasn't loud nor cocky so I could appreciate his quieter side more. He is also clever, has a complicated past and family life and I'm naturally very eager to find out more about him.
Robin wasn't as developed, just a little hint here, another there...enough to make me rise my eyebrows and think "interesting..." so I believe the author, again, did a great job in characterization, leaving plenty of room for speculation. I hope - and will steadily avoid reviews on the next books - these two might become a couple at some point....

The plot was intricate and although I suspected who the bad guy might be from a certain point on, it was still a marvel to see the clues being put together and understand the how of everything. The why wasn't as strong but in crime books it gets to a point where it's too unbelievable if the motives get wacky or unrealistic, therefore some of that "already seen this" can't really always be helped.
However, I still think the author connected the dots quite well. 

I suppose the reason why this wasn't even better for me was a matter of pace. I understand the need to let time pass, to let the reader feel ready to go from one idea to the other but it did drag the action, it did make things feel they were developing very slowly. One can't forget there is also the development of the protagonist's personal lives ongoing but I think the book had some slower moments that almost put a break on things and I felt bored here and there. Thankfully, these were moments rapidly compensated by some discovery, some clue on Cormoran's life but yes, they were there.

In my opinion, this was a good story, with a solid structure and I'm eager to see what will happen in the next books. This one might not have been perfect but it suited very well that need to just sit cozily and be immersed in a story.
I hope the next one is even better.
Grade: 8/10

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