I thought I would find it very strange writing review for a JK Rowling novel. When the Harry Potter books came out, we die-hard fans never really read it with a critic’s eye. We were part of the huge phenomena that was Potter and simply anything from the author’s pen created waves of excitement among the fans. Now exactly six years after the completion of the HP series, holding a brand new JKR novel was pleasantly reminiscent of the good old days. But in spite of the good reviews, I didn’t want to raise my expectations too much. Nor did I want to be the starry-eyed reader who’d give the book a thumbs-up solely based on the ‘J.K.Rowling’ name tag. So I kept an open mind. I was excited nevertheless. The book did not disappoint me. Jo’s impeccable narrative style is very clear right from the first page. Although initially I couldn’t help but grin at the usage of muggle words like ‘google’ and ‘mobile’ in the book. 😀
Cuckoo’s calling is essentially a murder mystery. Lula Landry, a supermodel, falls to death from her penthouse window. Given Lula’s history of supposed drug problems, a fragile mental state and lack of solid proof her case is closed as ‘Suicide’. However, Lula’s distraught brother John Bristow doesn’t think so. He is obsessed with his belief that Lula was murdered and seeks the help of a private detective Cormoran Strike to find the killer. The rest of the story follows Strike’s investigations until finally the killer is unmasked. The plot is as simple as that but Jo’s brilliant narrative propels the story forward. Being no stranger to paparazzi herself, Jo gives us a peek into the lives of celebrities effortlessly.
Another striking aspect of the novel is the brilliant characterization. As Strike interviews each and every friend and acquaintance of the slain supermodel, we have a thorough understanding of every character. The novel is not racy but it rather moves at a steady gait. So in a way, it gives us time to know the characters thoroughly. The protagonist Cormoran Strike is a very likable person with a knack of blending into any situation. Strike’s relationship with his enthusiastic secretary Robin Ellacot (though very professional and the fact that Robin is engaged to her long-term boyfriend ) hints of a romantic side-plot in the upcoming sequel. Apart from Strike, another important character in the book is the dead Lula Landry herself. Through out the book we explore her wild life and underneath all the chaos the real person that she was. For a supermodel who was a household name and who had all the wealth to afford anything she wanted, Lula’s personal life was a stark contrast to it. It was bleak and sometimes even claustrophobic.
There was a point in the book where I felt there was no progress in Strike’s investigation. Funny enough, right after that the book simply became un-put-down-able. The Cuckoo’s calling has become one of the most amazing reads I’ve had recently. Rowling is a master story teller and she proves it this time with her impressive foray into crime fiction. So much looking forward to the sequel. I will gladly give this book a BIG THUMBS UP.