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Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

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Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Gailbraith aka J.K Rowling
Publisher: Hachette India
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Price: Rs. 499 on Flipkart.
Pages: 550

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger.

I had heard so much praise about this book that I bought it immediately. But since I had a few other books to be finished, this one was put in the back seat. Finally towards the end of last year I picked it up. I have not read Happy Potter as I'm not a fan of fantasy fiction, so I did not expect anything from J.K. Rowling's writing. But the praise that this book received and since almost everyone I knew had given it a four plus rating on Goodreads, I thought it would be really good. Due to work and time constraints I could not find time regularly to read it. I had read 150 pages of it and had let it be. I picked it up again last month. But yet again, I could not get enough time to read regularly. It almost felt like J.K Rowling's books were cursed for me. In my defense, I tried reading Harry Potter. But after the first two pages and when the owl turned into a boy, I put the book down. But this one I was determined to finish. When my office release was done and work slowed down last week, I picked it up and was determined to finish it within a week.

When Lula Landry the super model falls to death from her balcony, it is considered a suicide. Only her brother John Bristow thinks otherwise, and brings in war veteran and private investigator Cormoran Strike to investigate the case. Strike along with his temporary assistant Robin, do all that they can to crack this case. But as much as they delve into it, things get more darker. Lula is the adopted daughter of the powerful Bristow family, but was she accepted? Why does her uncle Tony Landry hate her and her family? And why is Lula hell bent upon looking for her biological family? These question plague Strike as well. Strike who is battling a broken heart and loneliness, immerses himself in this case. He discovers many more characters who have an answer to the death of Lula. Be it her friend Ciara Porter, her designer friend Guy Some, the singer Deeby Mac or her boyfriend Evan Duffield. Her neighbors The Bestuigis add to the mystery as does the presence of her another friend Rochelle. All these characters are woven delicately together to create a mystery that does engross you and keep you hooked to it.

The story is fairly simple and well executed. But it is unnecessarily long. At 550 pages, this book is one of the longest that I have read in a really long time. The story based in London has beautiful descriptions of places and characters, but the story only picks up after half the book is done. I re-read the first 150 pages again and realized that I had not missed anything. The story almost remains the same for about 250-300 pages with unnecessary footage being given to Strike's ex Charlotte. The relationship between Strike and Robin seems too tepid and weird initially. Although this angle picks up later, it is a bore initially. It was interesting to see how Strike could put the pieces together and solve the mystery in the end. There was too much happening and it was getting difficult for me to keep up with the story. I guessed the mystery half way through the book although I did not understand the motive clearly. As the story unfolded later, the motive became clear and I knew how the book would end.

The writing is fantastic and the language used is brilliant. Although it became a bit tedious later. Too many characters and too many details made the other wise exciting mystery a bit complex. But for one who has read all of Shakespearean classics before the age of fifteen, nothing is tedious or complex. The story packs a punch and opens up gradually. At times a bit too gradually though. Had the book been a little shorter, it would have been more better. But maybe a powerful story of the rich and famous needed all the drama in it. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, inspite of guessing the ending half way through. The writing style is excellent and Strike is someone I would want to read about more.

Verdict: Brilliant mystery and fantastic writing. Might seem bit tedious and long though.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


  1. Now you should move on to 'The Silkworm' fast before the third Strike book comes out in October. Silkworm is lot more exciting than Cuckoo.

    By the way, Happy (Harry) Potter, boy (cat) turning to owl (woman)- sarcasm intended? :D

    1. One book in the way, after that it is 'The Silkworm'. Looking forward to it :)

      Happy was a typo and I just remembered some owl turning into a boy. If I missed out the correct details then yes, you can take that as sarcasm :D

  2. Sounds good. It is on my TBR list. And I just checked my system, I have its ebook version, so I will pick it up soon now.
    Oh, you MUST read Harry Potter and all the series at one go, one after the other!! I am going to re-read them sometimes soon :)

    1. You should read this when you have a lot of time in your hands.

      Maybe when I exhaust all my current books I'll pick up Harry Potter.

  3. only reason i'd be reading it because its by jo :p tv series will be coming soon based on same :)

    1. Really? That would be interesting to watch.

  4. I am not a Harry Potter fan but guess JKR has attempted a different genre . The book has to be read at leisure and without hurry as the first 150 pages do not have much action.

    1. Different genre indeed. Yes, read this only when you have a lot of time in hand.

  5. An interesting review on the life of a model stuck in the complexity of life. Sounds an interesting read, Soumya:)


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