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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

Bought The Cuckoo's Calling right around Christmas last year and am just now getting around to reading it, but it's no secret I haven't done as much reading this year as I did last year. I'm just glad I finally got to it. :D

Story: When a young, beautiful model falls to her death one snowy night, it is generally believed to be suicide. You know, a young woman cracking under the pressures of fame. While an investigation is conducted, nothing ever comes of it, and the official findings are consistent with suicide. Months later, the model's brother, convinced his sister was not suicidal, hires down-on-his-luck private detective, Comoran Strike to look into the case. With the help of his scrappy "temp" secretary Robin, Strike plunges them into the case, looking for truths that perhaps the police, the public, and paparazzi might have missed. 

Overall, I had no complaints about the story. It was a great whodunit that kept you guessing. I think I considered the real culprit about half a page before it was revealed, so she obviously did a good job. That said, I wasn't blown away either. But satisfied with the ending. 

Characters: As with Harry Potter, most of the characters in this book are very ordinary. With the exception of the model in question, they aren't beautiful people or particularly well-endowed in any area of life: looks, love, finances, etc. And there's something that's just so compelling about those types of characters. They feel more real, more human than other, cookie-cutter characters do. And Rowling/Galbraith just has a knack for writing them. 

My one complaint is that I wish she could have tied Strike's back story into the current story a bit more. He lost his leg in the war and is going through a hard time both financially and in the love department, so it's not like we don't get a good sense of his background. And it definitely does have a bearing on him now, as he's broke, and has to wear a prosthetic all the time, but that's not really what I mean. I wish he could have used something he learned from one or all of those hardships to help him in the present. To break the case or something. I just think it would have been more powerful that way, but that's not what she does. Not that what she does is terrible, I just think it could have been stronger.

Writing/POV: Here's where I had the biggest complaint. Any writer worth their salt knows that changing POVs in random places is a huge no-no. Yet she does it in this book. Constantly. She changes POVs mid-scene, and sometimes mid-paragraph. Okay, granted. She's J.K. Rowling, so she can get away with it, but that doesn't make it okay. Trying to figure out whose head we're in now always pulls the reader out of the story. ALWAYS. And you don't want that. It really bothered me in this book. I tried to think if she ever did that in Harry Potter, but HP was always from Harry's perspective, right? We didn't ride around in anyone else's head, if I remember right, so she wouldn't have had the chance to do it. I really am all about multiple POVs to tell a complex story, but it needs to be done right. I felt like this could have been a lot better.

Comparisons: Just be advised: this is definitely. Not. Harry Potter. This is an adult novel with plenty of curse words (including the f bomb), violence, sexual innuendo, drugs, etc. It was kind of shocking at first because, even knowing consciously that this is not Harry Potter and you shouldn't expect it to be, you still just don't think she'll go all R-rated movie on you. But she does. You've been warned.

Overall: While I had a few complaints, I actually really enjoyed reading this book. If you like mystery/crime/whodunit-type fiction, you'll enjoy it. It doesn't have the magic of Harry Potter, but it does have it's own, grown up kind of charm. If she writes more Comoran Strike novels, I'll probably read them. If you aren't into crime fiction, or only want to read Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling, then skip this one. You probably won't be impressed. 

Has anyone else read The Cuckoo's Calling? What did you think of it?

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