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The Cuckoo's Calling
By Robert Galbraith
An Audio Book Review

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The Cuckoo's Calling

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The Cuckoo's Calling
By Robert Galbraith
Read by Robert Glenister
Hachette Audio, (2013)
Unabridged Audio Recording on 13 CDs
ISBN: 978-1-4789-8082-7
Genre: Crime - Detective - Mystery

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - October 10, 2013

Why does a famous author write under a pseudonym, and then as soon, or even before, the book is published, reveal that she is the real author of the book in question? This is the case with J. K. Rowling. The Cuckoo's Calling is her second adult book, and unlike the The Casual Vacancy which was published under her own name, she decided to use a pseudonym for this crime novel. In this case she decided to call herself Robert Galbraith. Yet, as soon as the book came out, so did the 'fact' that Galbraith was in fact Rowling. Was she afraid that her new book was not 'good enough' to make it without the force of her fame? I don't know, because I rather liked this book and would have liked it just as well if Robert Galbraith had been a real person, and this his debut novel!

In The Cuckoo's Calling we are introduced to Cormoran Strike, a vet who lost a leg in Afghanistan and has now set himself up as a private eye. The only problem is, he's not doing very well. He has only one client at the moment, his debts are being called in, and to make matters worse, his girlfriend has thrown him out and he's having to kip in the office. But then, his luck changes. Or does it?

John Bristow wants to hire Strike to uncover the truth behind his sister's death. Bristow's sister was the supermodel Lula Landry, also known as the Cuckoo. The police say that Landry committed suicide by jumping off a very tall building. Her brother doesn't agree, and is sure that she was pushed to her death. He wants Strike to figure out the truth, and if she did not committed suicide, to find the killer.

On the surface, this is a traditional hard-boiled private eye story. Strike is down on his luck and yet, miraculous he is handed a high-profile and very lucrative case. He is aided in all aspects of his business by Robin, his gal-Friday who serves as secretary, assistant, and part time agent for her boss. Robin is another spot of luck. She was sent over from a temp agency to fill a vacancy that Strike could no longer afford to fill - but she stayed on anyway.

The case gives Strike entrance to high society, and he gets to hobnob with - and annoy - millionaires, rock stars, and a host of other people that would normally be totally out of his purview, and with him he has nothing in common and technically, would not know how to handle. Yet he seems to manage to weave in and out of high society without any real problems. Things begin to get even more complicated when another questionable suicide turns up....

Beneath the surface, however, things are much grittier and complex. Galbraith throws in a bit of politics to season the pot, along with some tidbits from the news such as the plague of paparazzi and hacking scandals targeting the rich and famous. Filled with the sites and sounds of London, a bevy of eccentric characters, and an engaging new PI who would be an utter failure without the help of his plucky assistant Robin, The Cuckoo's Calling has the making of developing into a delightful series that will enthrall fans of detective fiction the world over.

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