A lot of people read this novel on publication assuming Galbraith was a debut novelist and word of mouth about this exciting new talent grew, ensuring it sold well. Then, it was revealed that Galbraith was none other than JK Rowling dipping a toe into the murky waters of adult crime fiction and sales exploded. With hindsight, there is in its focus on the relationship between characters and its awareness of popular culture and celebrity enough to suggest a female author at work, but then the main character is so well drawn with an awareness of the foibles and shortcomings of the male species that it feels like he must have been created by another man, so the subterfuge was convincing.
Cormoran Strike is certainly a larger than life character whose vitality is central to the success of this novel. He is the result of a rock star’s fling with a supergroupie. Following army service in Afghanistan, where he lost a leg he has given up his military career and become a fairly unsuccessful private detective. He’s physically large, known to his acquaintances by a range of nicknames, is failing in a relationship with a woman better looking than he thinks appropriate and is struggling to cope with the ramifications of that relationship’s demise. Into this comes a temporary secretary, Robin, and a case concerning the death of a model which just might enable Strike to make his mark.
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is a rich, highly entertaining novel which given its crime tag has more than its fair share of humour and warmth. The relationship between Cormoran and Robin, the employer whose life is in tatters and the employee who steadfastly attempts to ignore her boss’ shortcomings whilst finding herself drawn into his investigation is very strong and demands further adventures. The case is well-thought out and keeps the reader guessing. Rowling has spent many years now in the privileged realm of the multi-millionaire world renowned author yet her down at heel detective and the world he inhabits feels plausible and very real. True, there is a lot of wealth in the case with paparazzi, fashion designers and the super-rich all playing their part but throughout I was rooting for the so likeable but so often unappealing Cormoran Strike.
The Cuckoo’s Calling was published by Sphere in 2013