First off, Robert Galbraith, if you hadn’t already heard six months ago, is J.K. Rowling.
What it is might surprise you, and you might just enjoy it.
Now, before I get much further, a caveat: because most of the books I read and recommend are largely family friendly, falling closer to rated PG than R, be forewarned that Rowling dips a bit deeper into the uncouth levels of society with characters, language, and situations that, frankly, are better kept to the pages of a novel and out of the living room of your family.
Yeah, there’s a bit o’ cussing here and there and, well, everywhere. And one scene I just skipped altogether. Call me a prude, but you have to be pretty dang persuasive to get me on board with a sex scene, especially when it happens on scene.
That said, I couldn’t put The Cuckoo’s Calling down.
Cormoran Strike is a modern day Sam Spade–albeit, more gritty, uglier, and just about as down on his luck as any PI out of central casting might be. An amputee and veteran, he’s one step from total impoverishment when opportunity walks through his door, and Strike (a name that sounds destined for the pages of a thriller or mystery–think Jack Reacher, Sam Spade, or Alex Cross) commences what appears at first to be a futile, and pointless, investigation into the apparent suicide of a world famous model.
Entering a world of the rich and famous only glimpsed through the long lenses of paparazzi cameras, Strike soon finds that the facts are not what they seem.
What makes the story work, and so fascinating to me, was Rowling/Galbraith’s deft touch on her characters, to build the conflicts page by page, while still dripping enough potential resolution to keep me curious. Her protagonists are difficult, but sympathetic. The plot is thick, but fast, and the pages turned easily.
In fact, this would make a great summer read for the beach.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a hard time recommending The Cuckoo’s Calling to anyone because of the content. However, as proof that she can write more than for children, that she can create mystery just as ably as magic, I take my hat off to Rowling. I look forward to more from her.