August’s Review


The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pen name of J. K. Rowling)

A review by editor Dylan Dartnell

Warning: This review may be considered blasphemous in some literary circles.

I apologise in advance.

Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling hit the shelves in 2013, and since then, we have come to realise that this was just a pen name for the ever-luminous, J.K. Rowling. The last instalment of the Harry Potter series was released in 2007, but unless you have been hiding under a staircase, this has recently been followed by the scripted Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the yet to be released, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie (November, 2017).

But The Cuckoo’s Calling is not Harry Potter. The world many of us are familiar with was set in a prestige school of magic, in the highlands of Scotland, during a time almost twenty years before we were to expect our own Hogwarts letters. Rowling’s use of flourishing syntax brings about even the most detailed of frills. You can almost picture the very flicks of her pen as she brought this imaginative (I’m sorry, but it’s true) masterpiece (but so is this) to life.

However, this crime novel is full of the same language. Every little bit of detail is brought to the reader’s attention as if we were the character of Cormoran Strike, the former militant, private detective; but to the novel’s detriment. The amount of detail is exasperating. Drawn out like a week’s worth of laundry; it’s just a chore to get through at times. Don’t misunderstand me: Rowling knows how to write. I do argue, however, that the language she uses is laborious and not particularly suitable for a world of suspicion and murderous intent.

The plot revolves around the death of a troubled model from a Mayfair balcony, which was ruled, and many believed, a suicide. However, the model’s adopted brother remains adamant that she was murdered and hires Strike to carry out the work forensic scientists had complacently discounted.  We follow Strike and his newly, and unfairly paid, intern, Robin, as they snuff out flawed alibies, vicious gossip, and mistaken identities before the mystery surrounding the model’s death is resolved. The story is also threaded together by a subplot of Strike’s past and the current dynamics of his relationship with the already-engaged Robin. As much as there is to learn about the case, it appears Strike has that much more to learn about himself.

This crime-fiction novel is the first of in a series, which follows Cormoran Strike’s character in The Silkworm (2014) and the Career of Evil (2015).

Read it on on our Goodreads page!


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