Audiobook: The Cuckoo’s Calling

by Robert Galbraith
read by Robert Glenister
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Content: None of the murders are grisly — they’re all alluded to — and there’s some talk of sex, but none actual on screen. However, the language is very adult (including many, many f-bombs), and for that reason, it’s in the mystery section (well, also because it’s a mystery) of the bookstore.

Cormoran Strike is hard up on his luck. Retired from the military due to an accident in which he lost part of his leg, and recently broken up with his posh, upper class girlfriend, the only thing Strike has is his private detective practice. And even that’s not doing terribly well. He can’t afford the temporary secretary that’s shown up, and he’s pretty sure he’s going to default on the loan his estranged (but famous) father gave him.

Things are looking pretty down when John Bristow, adopted brother of supermodel Lula Landry walks in Strike’s office with an incredible story. Bristow claims that the police have it wrong: that Landry’s death was not a suicide as originally thought, but rather murder. Someone pushed her off her third floor balcony to her death. The question is: who?

I really didn’t have expectations going into this one. I knew it was J. K. Rowling but I don’t really read many mysteries, so I wasn’t dying to get to this one. But, when I saw the audio book, I figured it was worth a try. I didn’t love it, but I was intrigued by it.

Perhaps it was because I knew it was Rowling before I went in, but I could tell that it was Rowling’s work. The way she described things (and because it’s audio, I don’t have a handy example) felt similar to the Harry Potter books. That, and she really does have a gift for names. The plotting was good as well; she kept up a good pace, and even though there were some bits that weren’t vitally necessary, it wasn’t under-edited. And the twist at the end didn’t come out of nowhere; something which was incredibly important to me.

I did feel like she under-utilized the administrative assistant, Robin. She gave us background on her, and made her a sympathetic character, but really didn’t have her do much of anything. I kept waiting for a grand Robin Moment that never quite came. The narration was excellent; I was impressed with the range of accents and voices that Glenister could do; perhaps one of the reasons I stayed interested in the book was because his narration was so compelling.

That said, it was a good, solid mystery. Nothing too spectacular, but nothing mundane or pedantic. Which means it’s just about right.

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