The Cuckoo's Calling
Afghan War, 2001-
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JOSEPH POTTER thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over
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Unless you have been taking an extended tech and media vacation this summer, you will have heard that J.K. Rowling – author of the über-successful Harry Potter series - was outed as the true name behind Cuckoo’s Calling, using pseudonym Robert Galbraith. As any high-powered author would do, she sued the law firm that leaked her identity for a six-figure sum and then donated it, plus proceeds from the sale of the novel for the next three years, to The Soldier’s Charity, an organization that supports veterans and their families in Great Britain. She did this as a thank-you for those in the military who helped her with her research, leading her to create one of the most hard-boiled detectives to hit pages since Sam Spade, Cormoran Strike (how could he not be hard-boiled with a name like that?). A wounded veteran with an infamous set of rock parents, Strike grew up with his half-sister in care of his aunt and uncle. He joined the military as an investigator, went to Afghanistan and came back missing part of a leg (but is far too proud to admit it to those who don’t know him), and opens a detective agency. Unfortunately he has some hard luck with women and alcohol, until he literally runs into (and nearly knocks to her death) fresh-faced, and newly engaged Robin Ellacott, recently arrived in London from Yorkshire, who is assigned as his new temporary office worker. Robin, secretly thrilled to be working for a PI, by far the most efficient tem Strike has ever been assigned, and she proves herself both resourceful and intrepid as Strike gets his first big case – a model falls to her death and three months later her brother shows up, asking Strike to prove it was murder and not suicide. Strike is no hack – he is thoughtful, driven and methodical – much like his creator, Rowling. She slowly unveils the threads of the mystery with great care, precision, a host of fully-formed characters, more than a few red herrings and loads of wit. In fact, it is a far better book than Rowling’s last non-Potter novel, Casual Vacancy, and leaves the reader wanting to know more about Cormoran Strike. Let us hope that being outed as Robert Galbraith does not keep JK Rowling from creating further mysteries for him to solve. Cuckoo’s Calling is a first rate mystery, no matter who the author really is.
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“Humans often assumed symmetry and equality where none existed.”
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