“As for the pseudonym, I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.” J.K. Rowling
I need to tell you two things in the interest of full-disclosure before I begin: I love Harry Potter and reread the entire saga at least once a year; I have the utmost respect for J.K. Rowling as a writer and as a person.
Having said that, I didn’t like The Casual Vacancy. I didn’t like the characters – not even one. Rowling chose to throw out a word in the first fifty pages that I abhor and would love to see eradicated from the English language. My friends reading this know it must be bad because I am known for using a few choice words when I feel the situation calls for them. In my humble (and I am very humble in the case of J.K. Rowling) opinion, she didn’t need to use that word. I stopped reading the book about a third of the way through. This is something I allow myself to do now that I am “mature”.
As a result, I almost didn’t read The Cuckoo’s Calling. I am sure that you probably know this, but in case you don’t, Rowling published this book under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Mr. Galbraith’s debut detective novel received a lukewarm reception. Welcome to the world of the first-time writer, Mr. Galbraith. And then, thanks to the transparency of social media, in this case, Twitter, it became known that Robert Galbraith was actually J.K Rowling. The book became an overnight sensation.
I love detective stories and have been reading them forever. I was only about eight years old when I started reading The Bobbsey Twins. Not long after that, I advanced to Sherlock Holmes who is still my benchmark. I am always on the lookout for a good detective series and I am hoping that more books will follow The Cuckoo’s Calling.
Trust Rowling to get it right. Her detective, Comoran Strike (Yes. Comoran Strike. Isn’t that a wonderful name?) Is deliciously flawed, as all good detectives are. His reluctant assistant, Robin, is definitely not. His office is a disaster. It doesn’t help that he is actually living in it. There is a lot more including his crazy ex-girlfriend but I am not going to spoil it for you. Rowling did a lot of research, which shines through, in order to support both the creation of her pseudonym, Galbraith, an ex-special forces officer, and her detective who served in Afghanistan before ending up camping out in his office. She doesn’t back away from using profanity in this book, either, but at least it made sense to me. The characters in whose mouths she puts the words probably do talk like this.
Strike is hired to find out if London supermodel, Lula Landry, known to her friends as Cuckoo, really did commit suicide. He finds himself blundering through a world of rock-stars, paparazzi, druggies and multi-millionaires. I couldn’t help liking Comoran Strike, even though in the footsteps of Conan Doyle, Rowling gave him almost more bad points than good ones.
If, like me, you love detective stories, I think you will enjoy The Cuckoo’s Calling.