Recap: It’s a death that has as much media coverage as the death of a One Direction member would warrant. Lula Landry, one of newest, youngest, and most gorgeous models in Britain has died. Lying on the ground next to her apartment building in London, Lula Landry appears to have fallen from her balcony. But was she pushed or did she jump? Considering her troubled history with drugs and mental instability, it is widely assumed that she jumped. After all, who would want to kill Lula Landry? But with all her fame, money, and beauty, the better question is who wouldn’t want to kill her?
That’s where Detective Cormoran Strike comes in. He’s hired by Lula’s adoptive brother, John Bristow, to delve deeper into Landry’s death. The offer couldn’t come at a better time for Strike, who’s been recently dumped, kicked out of his apartment, and is on the verge of bankruptcy. Considering how long it’s been since he’s had regular work, he’s a bit rusty. But when a new temporary secretary, Robin, starts working for him, she becomes more of an asset than he ever imagined a secretary could be.
Ultimately Strike and Robin unravel the case of Lula Landry, with lots of key players and lots of evidence previously overlooked by police.
Analysis: In one of only two books in her post-Harry Potter days, author J.K. Rowling (under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) proves yet again that her easy-to-follow writing and complex web of characters with oh-so-many motives makes for a book that’s tough to put down. The more each character is described, the more we want to know what happens.
That being said, The Cuckoo’s Calling is — for the most part — your average detective novel. It also feels quite a bit longer than it needs to be. Written in third-person, the book comes from the perspective of Strike, so as readers, we get to play detective right along with him.
But Rowling/Galbraith does one thing that sets The Cuckoo’s Calling apart from the rest of today’s detective novels: considering Strike’s recent professional misfortune, it’s unclear if he’s actually capable of doing the job. Usually in a mystery like this, the detective is described as being one of the best, so it’s no surprise when he solves the case. Here, there’s some uncertainty – can Strike solve the case? Is there even a case to be solved? Those are the questions that keep the book moving.
MVP: Strike and Robin, collectively. The two make a good team. Even with little history or experience working together, their determination makes for a solid bit of detective work, while a friendship between them blossoms.