Cormoran Strike is barely scraping as a PI. An army veteran who has lost a leg in Afghanistan, he is down to one client and neck deep in debt. Broken with his girlfriend, he is forced to live in his shabby office. In walks John Bristow, who wants to investigate death of his younger sister. His sister was Lula Landry, a famous supermodel who fell to her death three months ago. Police ruled it as suicide but John thinks otherwise.
First the million dollar question – Is this novel worth the hype it has generated? Yes. It is. Of course, J.K. Rowling’s name has surely helped but The Cuckoo’s Calling is an engaging mystery. I have always viewed Harry Potter as a brilliant mystery series, especially first four books – Just look at the complexity of its plot, seamlessly inter weaved multiple story lines spanning across seven books and ingeniously hidden clues all over the books. So when I read that Rowling has penned a mystery, I wanted to read it as soon as possible.
I liked the protagonist, Cormoran Strike. Strike is broke – physically and financially, nursing a failed relationship which was turbulent at the very least. He has had a ‘not so happy’ (to put it mildly) childhood followed by his army stint. But he is really smart and knows how to do his job well. Then there was charming Robin, Strike’s temporary secretary. Robin is new to London, a shy and reticent girl of 25 and a perfect foil to Strike. She is excited to work for a PI and its fun to read about London as Robin sees it. But she can be quite tactful and resourceful when required and soon shows how good she is at prying out information.
The Cuckoo’s Calling has all the hallmarks of Rowling. However, it is not Harry Potter. It is in classical mystery mould – more like Sherlock Holmes. There are clues but unlikely to take the reader on a treasure hunt (or killer hunt in this case). They are hidden under a lot of mundane details and statements and observations of witnesses. As for mystery, it was good. The premise is nothing extraordinary. However, Rowling’s strength is in building her characters and the atmosphere. This is where Rowling’s book become different from run of the mill mysteries and same is true with Cuckoo’s Calling. Rowling lays out the investigation in a detailed manner. Strike’s interviews are elaborate. Even the final showdown with the killer was arduous where Strike explains killer’s every move. This probably is the only flaw that I could find with the book. But then again, this is how Rowling writes. Her stories pick up momentum as they move from one book to next. I hope this will be the case with Cormoran Strike and the last line of the book “I am become a name” has convinced me to wait for more promising adventures to come.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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