Friday, October 10, 2014

First Book in a Great New British Mystery Series: The Cuckoo's Calling a novel by Robert Galbraith

 The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling) is the first novel in a very entertaining British private detective series. The detective is a down and out ex-British Army disabled veteran of the current war in Afghanistan. His specialty in the service was military police detective, similar to the U. S. Army CID I was in during the Vietnam era. The portrayal of his background was realistic and certainly qualifies him to open his own PI detective agency. The problem is he has more debtors than clients. Sleeping on a cot in his office after the breakup with his wealthy girlfriend, Cormoran Strike hires a temporary secretary, Robin Ellacott, and tries to get his act together with a new client. Three months after the "suicide" of his sister Lula, his supermodel adopted sister, wealthy lawyer client John Bristow hires Strike to prove she was a murder victim rather than a suicide.

As with Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, this novel is more of a character study than a narrative of the characters' actions. The gruff somewhat burned out personality of Strike is contrasted with Robin's naïve excitement and interest in detective work. The two main characters establish a somewhat complicated relationship that readers hope will last even though Robin works for a temporary agency. The two travel to several London settings that are nicely described and cover a wide area of the large metropolis.

A host of other interesting characters are introduced largely via Strike and Robin's interviewing during the case: supermodels, a movie producer and his wife, a famous clothing designer, an active duty British soldier, an indigent hostel dweller, British police inspectors, a famous rapper, and lawyers in a staid and wealthy London solicitors firm.

"Galbraith" writes the story in in a third person voice, a great choice that avoids the limitations of the detective describing everything from his limited point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed the exciting story from beginning to end and certainly will buy the next novel in the series, The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike Novel). I liked the quotations presented at the beginning of the book and the start of each chapter. There are book extras on the Kindle edition including Characters, Glossary, Themes, Memorable Quotes and other categories of interesting information. I hope the series continues with many volumes to come. I give The Cuckoo's Calling my highest recommendation.

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