JK Rowling wrote this book using a pseudonym. It is a dramatic departure from the Harry Potter world and I could understand that she would not want people to pick this book up with expectations colored by their experience with Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Of course, by the time I read this book I knew that she had written it and my expectations were colored. I didn’t have expectations around the contents. I knew that this story was not set in the magical world and was not written for young adults. What (pleasantly) surprised me was the writing.
I read the Harry Potter books a long time ago. So long ago that what I remember is a general sense of enjoyment with very few details in tact. My recollection is that they were fun, but not particularly well written and that they lacked subtlety and nuance. I have since reread Order of the Phoenix and am changing my mind a bit, but at the time these were my thoughts. So, I approached Cuckoo’s Calling with an expectation of a good story told reasonably well. I was wrong. This is a great story told beautifully.
In the grand tradition of hard-boiled detective stories our protagonist, private detective Cormoran Strike, is down on his luck. He is living out of his office, defaulting on his loans and experiencing a disastrous break up with his beautiful and impulsive fiancee. This has all the makings of a cliched formulaic mess, but it elegantly rises above with the introduction of an assistant that is strong, smart, and easy to relate to. Robin’s character grounds the story in reality and supports the suspension of disbelief needed to really enjoy a book.
The mystery itself is great. Money, fame, jealousy, dirty dealings, dysfunctional families, and sordid pasts. It kept me guessing until the end and while some of Cormoran’s logical leaps were unlikely, they did not feel impossible. I have been looking for a good mystery for awhile and am so happy to have found this series. I will definitely read the next books in this series.
I am keeping on ongoing list of all of the books I have read in 2016 here. Always looking for suggestions!