My experience earlier this year with J.K. Rowling’s first foray into non-Potter fiction was decent enough that I decided that if I could find her second offering at the local library, then I would give it a go. So it was with delight and a little trepidation that I borrowed The Cuckoo’s Calling.
First, I really wish that I hadn’t known that “Robert Galbraith” was Rowling writing under a pseudonym. I wish I’d been able to experience this novel thinking that it was someone other than an already established author trying to break into another genre after a somewhat mixed first attempt. However, truthfully, I probably would have never read this book if I hadn’t known that Rowling was the actual writer. See, I have learned through repeated trials that detective stories simply are not my cuppa. I do keep trying (because I just don’t know when to quit sometimes), but I’ve yet to find one that makes me go “YES! THAT’S IT! THAT’S THE BOOK FOR ME!”
Totally strange, I know, considering that so many of my favorite shows have been crime procedurals…including that one three-lettered series that I simply can’t quit. But I digress.
Still, I have to say that The Cuckoo’s Calling came pretty close to finally pulling me into the detective genre all the way. Close. But not quite all the way. True to Rowling’s form, she did a fantastic job of setting up compelling characters and situations that kept drawing me along for whatever fantastically bumpy ride she had in mind. Plus, Rowling has an enviable skill for planning things out to the very last detail. I honestly could not fault the conclusion of this story, even when I sat and pondered it far more deeply than I think I’ve ever pondered one of these stories.
I think, though, that this was part of the problem I had with the novel. It was so well-planned that the reveal felt…anticlimactic. I don’t know how else to put it. I felt that the whole novel preceding the part leading into and finally giving the big reveal was so solid and enjoyable that…I don’t know. The ending should have been more…more.
Great use of words there, right? I’m trying not to give away anything about the ending, though, because I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you who might not have read this book. And even though I wish that the ending hadn’t been quite as neat and polished and sedate as it was, I do think this book is worth reading. Rowling is gloriously talented to the point that, even when I don’t completely love every bit of every story she writes, I can still love her for her abilities and her obvious devotion to language and literature. To put it in her own vernacular, I think she’s brilliant.
Final Verdict: As well written and mostly enjoyable as this book was, I kind of feel at this moment that I don’t need to add this to my collection. However, I found Rowling’s detective Cormoran Strike an interesting enough character that I have already added myself to the wait list at our local library for his next adventure, The Silk Worm (the library hasn’t even received any copies yet and already I’m 384th in line!).