Sadly, I did take a huge break from reading for most of this year. From January to June it was one big preparation for my A-Level exams in May and June and so of course I had to give them my undivided attention.
But come mid-June, when exams finished, I finally started to get back into reading and chose The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I was still a bit busy throughout June but I finally finished the book yesterday. So for today’s post, I thought I’d review the book.
Immediately upon hearing about the book’s plot, I was intrigued since it definitely had the style of a traditional mystery/crime novel. But what made the plot unique within this genre was the diverse characters. Whilst the caring and enthusiastic Robin was a bit of a cliché side-kick for private detective Cormoran Strike, the relationship between the two as the investigation continued made both of their characters believable. In particular, though, I was drawn more to Strike’s character, whose direct and sometimes blunt attitude made him an intriguing and sometimes humorous character to follow throughout the plot.
However, whilst the two main protagonists were well-developed in terms of character, J.K. Rowling (who uses Robert Galbraith as a pseudonym for this book) once again decides to introduce a large amount of characters into the story. All these characters are well-developed and add key details to the mystery and the plot, but by setting the reader the task of remembering all of these characters, there’s a chance that they’ll get confused and probably won’t remember everything. On a separate note, Harry Potter manages multiple characters well, but as for The Casual Vacancy, I felt as though the book expected me to know who all of the characters were straight away. With The Cuckoo’s Calling being a crime novel, I expect to remember all of the characters so I can have my own suspicions when it comes to the mystery.
But in terms of the plot’s development, I must admit that the book does start at a rather slow pace. However, the book then starts to explore this style of investigation which was almost like a to-do list. Throughout the plot readers are told who Strike would interview or what he would investigate next, which for me was a good aspect of the book as it felt as though I was following the case at the same time as Strike.
Without wanting to give away spoilers, another good section of the book aside from the intriguing character of Cormoran Strike is how well the mystery is executed towards the end of the novel. The twists and red-herrings worked well and the solution was something that I have always wanted to see in a crime fiction book. But whilst the big reveal at the end was a clever, the explanation of this reveal wasn’t as well executed, leaving a few plot holes here and there.
Despite the ending being a relatively satisfying conclusion to the novel, I felt as though more could have been done by Galbraith/Rowling to ensure that the reader was keeping on top of the plot developments, so that the final twist in the novel is more of a shock. For me, part of the reason why it wasn’t a shock was because, with all the information to remember, I had forgotten certain parts of the novel that prevented me from understanding the ending completely. In summary, the plot felt a little crammed in terms of details, with the story feeling a tad over-developed or ‘busy’, lacking simplicity in areas.
Before having read the first book, I was quick to buy the second book in the series, The Silkworm. Now that I have finished The Cuckoo’s Calling, I will read The Silkworm since the plot does sound intriguing. But I hope that Galbraith’s second novel sees a limitation on the amount of characters in the plot, and that the plot itself is perhaps a bit more simplistic than that of The Cuckoo’s Calling.
With an interesting premise, Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling fits perfectly into the mystery/crime genre. Whilst the large amount of characters and an over-developed plot may put off some readers, crime fiction fans will definitely enjoy the unique investigative duo that is Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott in J.K. Rowling’s crime writing debut.
Rating: 3 out of 5