‘J/K’ – Rowling publishes under pseudonym

You may have heard people talking about it, or seen it on the “New Fiction” shelves at every bookstore you enter, but one thing is certain: “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is gaining popularity amongst readers of all ages. The new crime story unfolds through the perspective of London Private Investigator Cormoran Strike, whose most memorable and repeated epithet throughout the book is ‘pubehead’. Strike, down on his luck and forcibly living in his office, is desperate when he accepts the challenging task of finding the murderer of a famous supermodel who is believed to have committed suicide. While Strike’s character struggles to keep his head above water between his rapidly declining personal life and grasping at straws for clues in the murder case, this book is highlighted by its female characters and satisfyingly complex plot twists.

In the author’s grim London setting, the apparent suicide of Lula Landry, the world famous supermodel nicknamed Cuckoo for her wild antics, sparks a storm of media attention surrounding her sad life and history of mental illness. At the beginning of the novel, the reader sees Landry as the media does, lying dead in the snow after falling from her balcony and then later from the news reports that paint her as unstable. Through each person close to Landry that Strike investigates, the reader discovers a part of the real Lula who gradually seems to be nothing like the gossip columns had described her. At the same time, Robin Ellacott, Strike’s temporary receptionist, provides Strike with invaluable insight and, though searching for a “proper” job, finds herself instead sucked into the case.

Reading this book, most people will likely relate to Robin, excited to learn what happens next, but constantly one step behind catching the killer. This element is what makes the book a gratifying detective story; there are so many pieces of the puzzle and sorting through them makes for a triumphant and unexpected ending. Unfortunately, this book could have been better paced, as the action does not pick up until well past the halfway point of the over 450-page total of the book. The author’s habit of stretching sentences into near paragraph length does not help the speed either, and instead bogs down parts of the narrative.

Most might remark at the success of this “new author’s” first novel, but it is unavoidable to mention that Robert Galbraith is actually a pseudonym for the famous author, J.K. Rowling. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is set in an entirely different world from Harry Potter, and the differentiation of the two may just have been her reason for using a pseudonym. While this book – and the open-ended possibility of sequels – may not be for Harry Potter fans, Rowling’s writing skills are proven to be every bit as compelling. She gives an antihero impossible tasks and cautiously transforms him into a likable, tough, and adaptable character. By the end of the book, the reader is absorbed in Strike’s world and eager for a continuation. While “The Cuckoo’s Calling” starts slow, it is filled with gritty realism and a well-rounded cast of characters that will keep you guessing who the culprit is.

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