Tag: J.K. Rowling

#BestsellerCode100: Reader’s Review of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  As Roberta pointed out in her Writer’s Review, we all know now that Robert Galbraith is a pen name for J. K. Rowling, author of the iconic Harry Potter series.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling* by Robert Galbraith


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Pen Name

You have to give Rowling props for using a pen name and writing something entirely different from Harry Potter.  She could have easily used her own name and raked in the dough that would come her way as her faithful readers scurried to buy her newest book.  Instead, she wanted her new book to stand on its own, or not, whichever the case might be.  Or maybe she wanted to make a point about how difficult it is for new authors to get noticed.  In any case, even though The Cuckoo’s Calling received rave reviews for a debut book upon it’s release in 2013, sales were mediocre at best until The Sunday Times revealed that the true author was Rowling.

How did the newspaper discover her identity?  Interestingly enough, they received an anonymous tip that Rowling was the actual author.  The newspaper then hired an computer analysis (sound familiar?) of The Cuckoo’s Calling  and some of Rowling’s other books, comparing them to works by other authors.  As soon as The Sunday Times published their findings, The Cuckoo’s Calling immediately went from No. 5076 in sales on Amazon to No. 1.  Rowling enjoyed five short weeks of anonymity after the book’s release before her identity was revealed.  I can only imagine her disappointment that she was unable to remain “behind the curtain” a bit longer.

Great Characters

The Cuckoo’s Calling doesn’t feel like a debut novel.  For one thing, it contains multiple complex characters.  Unlike one of our previous books, Easy Prey, these characters are memorable – no turning back pages trying to remember who is who.  Not only are they memorable, but we care about them, have visceral reactions to them, even if they are only peripheral characters.  Each character seems to be an essential part to the story, and who we thought they were at the beginning is often revealed to be a flawed first impression.  Rowling/Galbraith certainly knows her/his stuff when it comes to writing characters.

Cormoran Strike

As an example, we first meet the main character, Cormoran Strike, as he is spinning out of control from lack of sleep, the break-up of a longterm relationship, and the downward spiral of his business.  He’s homeless, living in his office, which may soon be gone also.  He’s simply not at his finest, yet this is how we first meet him, and our first impression is not a good one.  Who is this bumbling fool?  Surely he can’t be our detective?!  Yet as the story progresses, we learn that he actually brings a lot to the table as a detective:  he has a keen eye for details, listens intently, can easily spot when someone is lying, and is able to weave together the same story from several people’s perspectives to spot the flaws in their recounting.  He’s actually an excellent detective and it’s a pleasure to watch him at work as he pieces together the why’s and where’s and who’s of the crime, or, in this case, multiple crimes, as the body count does rise from the initial murder of Lula Landry in the opening of The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Strike’s Office Temp

Initially I was a bit disappointed in Robin, Strike’s temporary office assistant (a.k.a. secretary).  When we first meet her, she has just accepted a marriage proposal and seemed to be more dazzled by the ring on her finger than the actual man who proposed.  Given the “modern times” we live in, Robin seems quite old-fashioned and it’s a bit surprising that Rowling, as a female author, wouldn’t give Robin a more feminist character.  Of course, Rowling didn’t write The Cuckoo’s Calling; male author Galbraith wrote it.  Maybe Rowling was trying to write this female character as she thought a male author would.  In any case, Robin’s character becomes more developed throughout the book and she and Strike seem to hit some sort of professional rapport by the end of the book, which bodes well for the continuing series.  And obvious seeds have been laid for growth with the Robin character.  I look forward to seeing how her character is developed in the continuing series.

Enjoyable Reading

We’ve now read through 25% of the books from The Bestseller Code’s book list and I feel like we’re finally getting into novels that deserve being on the list.  I thoroughly enjoyed the last book, And The Mountains Echoed, and found The Cuckoo’s Calling to be equally entertaining, albeit a very different manner of entertainment.  I can only hope our next book in the reading challenge, The White Tiger, will keep up this streak of enjoyable reading.

If you enjoyed reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, will you be reading the rest of the Cormoran Strike series?  I know I will!

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 75. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008) – Discussion begins October 16, 2017
Literary fiction, won the Man Booker Prize

#BestsellerCode100: A Writer’s Analysis of The Cuckoo’s Calling

Let’s take a look at The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pen name for J. K. Rowling) from a writer’s perspective (The discussion began here).

This post contains spoilers.

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith for this series. She also wrote The Casual Vacancy, which is another title on The Bestseller Code list.  This fact makes J.K. Rowling the only author with two novels in our Bestseller 100 reading challenge.

Summary:  When a supermodel falls to her death, her brother doesn’t believe that it is suicide. He hires private investigator Cormoran Strike to find out the truth.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first in a series. The second is The Silkworm and third is Career of Evil. According to Rowling, the fourth is in the works (with the working title Lethal White). The series may extend to ten books.

The series has also been adapted for television by the BBC. (Caution:  Don’t watch this trailer if you don’t want to see actors in the roles you’ve envisioned when you read the book.)

Character

J. K. Rowling rules when it comes to creating memorable characters. Each person is a distinctive individual. No clones in her books.

Some of the characters in this particular novel seem to be subtly (and not so subtly) named after birds. The cuckoo in the title is type of bird, as well as a pet nickname of the supermodel who falls to her death, Lula Landry.

The first major character we meet is Robin.

 British Robin J. K. Rowling
Photo credit: Gidzy via Visual hunt / CC BY

We’ll assume that’s a British robin. Although we meet her first, Robin fills the role of sidekick.

Private investigator Cormoran Strike is the protagonist. Search his first name and Google guesses we were looking for a cormorant (a water bird), although it is also the name of some obscure Cornish giant. His surname, Strike, is awfully close to shrike, which is another type of bird. Okay, maybe we’re stretching things, but is Wardle a warbler?

By the way, Lula is supposed to have been wearing angels wings during a photo shoot prior to her death, but they do look a lot like bird wings in the trailer for the show above.

Okay, that was a bit of fun.

Point of View

One of the uncommon aspects of the novel is J. K. Rowling’s use of the third-person omniscient perspective, but in a way that mimics third person limited. The abrupt changes from point of view (POV) one character to another would probably not fly with most writing critique groups these days, where true third person limited reigns supreme.

For example, on page 123 (in the paperback version), we have Robin’s POV in one paragraph.

By the time she had marched through the usual chaos and debris to Denmark Street, extracted the key from behind the cistern as instructed, and been snubbed yet again by a superior-sounding girl in Freddie Bestigui’s office, Robin was in a thoroughly bad temper.

With a faint wisp  of transition, the next sentence we’re in Strike’s POV.

Though he did not know it, Strike was, at that very moment, passing the scene of the most romantic moments of Robin’s life. The steps below the statue of Eros were…

It was interesting to see how such a famous and prolific author handled the difficulty of following more than one character. In her hands, it was not as confusing as it could be.

Setting

The Cuckoo’s Calling is set in London and environs. Most of the setting is treated casually, as if described by someone who familiar with the place. This makes sense because Cormoran Strike is a local and he wouldn’t spend a lot of time describing his surroundings. Still, readers do get a sense of place as the characters visit pubs and struggle through a snowstorm or two.

General Discussion

As mysteries go, this one was satisfying one. There were plenty of potential suspects, red herrings, and the big reveal at the end was quite surprising. It moves at a good pace, giving readers a chance to accumulate and mull over clues.

For some of the less satisfying aspects of the novel, one has to wonder if J. K. Rowling added them intentionally because she was trying to sound as if she was a male writing his debut work. For example, Robin shows promise at first as a spunky assistant, but is soon relegated to discovering Strike’s backstory and giving Strike someone to bounce ideas off of. The rest of her time is spent in passive-aggressive battles with her controlling fiancé, Matthew, who seems to be included in the book solely to prevent Cormoran from wanting to have a relationship with her. (Cormoran had a fiancée who was much hotter than Robin, but they broke up.)

I liked that Cormoran was large, flabby, and had unruly hair. It made him unique. However, he didn’t seem to have any characteristics that would justify his luck in having intimate relationships with extraordinarily beautiful women/supermodels. He didn’t have wads of money, a particularly charismatic personality, or an outstanding talent.  It seemed incongruous. Was that part of some debut-male-author disguise Rowling invented? (On the other hand, if he had been described like the actor Tom Burke, who plays him in the BBC series, I could have fully understood his success. Tom Burke has gorgeous eyes. )

Despite a few minor quibbles, The Cuckoo’s Calling is an enjoyable, entertaining novel overall. It definitely qualifies as one of the best of the bestsellers.

 

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 75. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008) – Discussion begins October 16, 2017
Literary fiction, won the Man Booker Prize

#BestsellerCode100: Number 76. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym used by J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. She also wrote The Casual Vacancy, another title on The Bestseller Code list.  This makes J.K. Rowling the only author with two novels in our best of the bestsellers challenge.

Summary:  When a supermodel falls to her death, her brother doesn’t believe that it is suicide. He hires private investigator Cormoran Strike to find out the truth.

This is the first in a series. The Silkworm is the second novel and Career of Evil is the third novel in the series.

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith? Feel free to add a link to your review here.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 75. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008) – Discussion begins October 16, 2017
Literary fiction, won the Man Booker Prize

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