Book 3 of the Cormoran Strike Series mixed up the equation some and gave us a serial-killer mystery with even the point of view of the killer at times. Did this work for me? Not really, but I loved the character growth of Robin and Cormoran. The story starts out with Robin receiving a package of a severed leg addressed to the office. This starts the mystery of who would do such a thing to provoke Cormoran? Cormoran whittles down the list of suspects who could be this new “Jack the Ripper” like serial-killer to three men. The majority of the book is Cormoran investigating these three men, all connected to Cormoran from the past. So right away this is a much different book than the previous Cormoran books.
The big differences between this book and the previous book are that we know that the killer is one of these 3 men, there is no crime scene to investigate, and the murders are personal towards Cormoran, and the actual murders themselves are from a serial killer that is motivated by a serial killer’s desire to kill. The point of view of the serial killer did nothing for me. I thought those parts of the book were written laughably bad and didn’t add much depth to the character. Knowing that the killer is one of three men made me really upset because I like to think of outside the box thinking about who the killer might be when reading murder mysteries. Not having a crime scene made it so that Robin and Cormoran had to go looking for information about the men from past acquaintances. I wasn’t too thrilled with this mystery at all and thought the previous books were much better mysteries.
Where this book really shined, was with the progression of Robin and Cormoran’s friendship and working relationship. More things happen between Robin and Cormoran and their connected people, in their lives, than the previous two books combined. My absolute favorite part was learning about Robin’s past. The surprise factor about Robin’s past was the biggest reveal in this book. Where I mainly read this series for Cormoran, I now have an invested interest in Robin. She has become my favorite character in this series, maybe. I would have to look to television to point out a male/female mystery pair that I like more than these two.
Anyway, sub-par mystery for me, but great character moments.
14/25 Possible Score
2 – Plot
4 – Characters
2 – Setting
3 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect
Galbraith delivers another solid private detective story with The Silkworm and solidifies Rowling’s pseudonym as one of the best voices in mystery fiction. The Silkworm is a literary mystery, a down on his luck author writes a scalding book that criticizes all the people working in the business. When he doesn’t return home after a prologued absence from home, something he often does, his wife contacts Cormoran Strike to find him.
Galbraith opens up the story with a rather simple plot that grows rather complex as the descriptions in the book connect to the possible suspects that are involved in Owen Quine’s disappearance. Quine, a man with a past and not the greatest of fellows, is a great individual to center this mystery around. I personally liked the literary aspect of the story, meeting different authors, agents, and publishers while finding out how seedy the literary atmosphere in London happens to be.
Strike is one of my favorite private detectives in this genre of writing. He is a larger man with a prosthesis for a leg. Strike is straight-forward and doesn’t necessarily like the company of people at times. His focus is almost always on his cases but his relationships are important to who he is. Robin, his secretary, wants to be a private detective like Strike, and she is constantly seeking his approval. Strike thinks that Robin has the mind to be a P. I. but he doesn’t know if she can sacrifice her upcoming marriage for the job. This creates a great teacher/student type of dynamic between Robin and Strike that is founded in mutual admiration for each other but also one that makes Strike a bit uncomfortable. I just really enjoy Strike’s character and he reminds me of myself at times. I’m a rather large guy and it is nice to read about a large guy solving crimes.
Galbraith’s writing is what carries these books. The step by step approach to these mysteries, attempting to solve the case along with Strike, is what really draws me to these books. Where some mysteries hide a lot of information from the reader, Galbraith gives us a lot of the facts but doesn’t describe what those facts mean until much later in the story. I like that we follow our private detective from sun-up to sun-down until the case is solved. There are few instances of the story jumping forward in the time frame and I really like that in my mystery books. The book is written in great detail and Galbraith uses 3rd person narrative switching seamlessly to showcase the feelings of all the main characters.
If you like detailed mysteries, give this series a try. If you like a lot of romance in your mysteries, this isn’t one where you will find that. The focus of these books is talking to everyone involved and putting together a plausible hypothesis to what happened to the victim. Strike then needs to figure out how he can prove what he surmises. Robin is a strong sidekick-like character that is treated with respect by Galbraith and Strike’s gloomy or reserved demeanor just kind of grows on you. A good book for all mystery fans.
17/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
2 – World Building/Setting
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect(mind)
I found the The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith to be an entertaining, excellently plotted detective murder mystery with a great protagonist. The Cuckoo’s Calling is written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This is a private detective novel that is a slow burn. Where some P.I. books over the recent years has action involved with the plot, The Cuckoo’s Calling harks back to the hard boiled classics from the likes of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. If you enjoy a good murder mystery that is centered around the detective talking to individuals associated with the deceased to figure out deception, you’ll like this.
Cormoran Strike is a private detective that is down on his luck. His business is failing, his relationship with his love has ended, and he is haunted by a past in the army. His luck changes when he gets a case involving a celebrity model’s suicide. The brother of the model wants to prove that it was murder and not suicide. Strike, along with his new secretary Robin, are trying to find the secrets being hidden by the rich and famous group of people involved in the victim’s life.
The Cuckoo’s Calling should be read because it is just a well thought out plotted book. While reading I always knew that Rowling knew where she wanted the story to go. Everything was meticulously laid at the feet of the reader and it just flowed extremely well. The most exciting parts were just Strike asking people associated with the victim questions. The more questions Strike asked the more the reader understood this group of people and the possible answers to the murder. What I especially liked about The Cuckoo’s Calling is that we followed Strike through the entire case without interruption. We got point of views from Robin, the secretary, but it was always about Strike. Rowling ended a chapter with Strike going to sleep and began the following chapter with Strike waking up. This allowed the reader to really understand the steps that Strike was taking to figure out this case.
I just absolutely loved the character of Strike. As a larger guy myself, it was nice to read about a man that was overweight, tall, and flawed. A lot of times we have private investigators that fit into the cliche of a good looking guy that every woman wants. In The Cuckoo’s Calling it is Strike’s personality and confidence that attracts people, and not his looks. His friendship and working relationship with Robin was fantastic and I loved how Rowling added manners and social nuances to Robin to make her not intrusive.
This was a detective book that just worked for me. It was easy to get caught up in and the plot had me so intrigued. I will definitely be reading all the of Strike books after reading this one. My only criticism was that there wasn’t much of an emotional response from myself while reading this. I didn’t get super excited when the reveal happened and there weren’t a lot of ah ha! moments. I recommend this book to any murder mystery lovers out there that wants to read something written a little better than most current mainstream mystery.
4/5 18/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting – 3(Good)
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 2(O.K.)