Under the pseudonymous Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling's The Cuckoo's Calling combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in this debut.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is not a novel that calls upon the wonderful gifts of inventiveness that Ms. Rowling used in Harry Potter to conjure a fully imagined world with its own rituals and rules ...concerned with decidedly more mundane matters, like midlife crises and class envy and the social anthropology of contemporary London ...seems to have similarly studied the detective story genre and turned its assorted conventions into something that, if not exactly original, nonetheless showcases her satiric eye...he’s part British-style Sherlock, using logic and deduction, not physical intimidation, to put together the puzzle pieces of his case ...is flawed by a Psycho-like explanatory ending — in which Strike explains how he put all the evidence together and identified Lula’s killer, but most of its narrative moves forward with propulsive suspense.
In April, a debut mystery called The Cuckoo's Calling was published ... The story takes place in a circumscribed setting, it's full of oddball suspects, and the killer is affably lurking in plain sight throughout much of the action. Rowling's private eye hero is named Cormoran Strike: He's an ex-military policeman who lost a leg in Afghanistan ... Rowling tries to bring a more contemporary edge to this novel by featuring a beautiful biracial victim and delving into the demimonde of high fashion and hip-hop royalty, but the world here still feels curiously dated ... The most intriguing unsolved mystery in The Cuckoo's Calling is why, in this post-Lisbeth Salander age, Rowling would choose to outfit her female lead with such meek and anachronistic feminine behavior.
It's terrific. This mystery novel featuring a quasi-disabled military veteran; his clever secretary; a rich, troubled beauty who may have been murdered but who just as likely may have plummeted to her death in a suicidal swoon; and an attendant swarm of hypocritical poseurs and annoying hangers-on, is a rich, involving chronicle of contemporary celebrity culture — and a nifty whodunit, to boot. If Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie had briefly shacked up, their love child might very well have been Robert Galbraith ...a masterful novel, the kind of big, noisy, busy, beautiful book in which it is so easy and so pleasurable to become enmeshed. The characters are fascinating and true, the London setting is rendered with such visceral sensory precision that you will find yourself reaching automatically for an umbrella, and the mystery at its heart.