Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbriath / J.K. Rowling

So, yes, I’m finally getting around to finishing this book. Don’t judge me, I’ve been busy. And angry. Let me take it from the top.

I don’t normally read crime novels/mysteries because I find them boring. I hate crime dramas on TV especially because I normally DON’T care who the killer is because there hasn’t been enough character investment in the ones who died. However, I love J.K. Rowling, so I was willing to take a chance on crime’s novel format.

However, I will say I put off reading this from the start because I was – quite frankly – pissed off at Rowling for trying to trick us. I had been waiting for years for a novel from her and all we got was a stand-alone A Casual Vacancy. I was very unsatisfied at her attempt to pacify us, so when I found out I had been savoring Vacancy for nothing, I was even more angry.

What’s more,  she didn’t even do a good job of keeping her pen name a secret anyways, because it leaked. WHAT WAS IT ALL FOR?!?! It comes off as a publicity stunt more than her being a master mind trying to get real, objective feedback from readers (which is why I assume she used the fake name in the first place?). Thus, I don’t really respect her and her decision to “pen name” the book (yes, I just made Pen Name a verb – shut up) because it looks like it was a futile attempt.

But, on to the review. The Cuckoo’s Calling wasn’t boring. It was very well written and I liked all the characters. But it was too long and drawn out, making me put it down in intervals. By the time I picked it up again, I had to refresh my memory on what had happened. I think her latest book,  A Casual Vacancy, was much better, story-wise. I guessed who the killer was from the start. I mean, I couldn’t prove it, but I suspected him most of all from the start. Which is unlike me with J.K. Rowling’s books. There is usually some twist I didn’t see coming, which is what usually makes her books so enjoyable. But it’s not so with this book. At the end, I found myself tired with the fact that I already guessed who did it – too much so to really care how he pulled it off (which really turns out to be what the book’s about).

Spoilers below!

I found it disappointing that Rowling would (basically) use the same trick she pulled off in her first novel: Don’t suspect the pitiful guy! In Harry Potter #1, we never suspect poor, stuttering Quirrell to be behind it all. Yet, here we are, in The Cuckoo’s Calling, seeing the same thing – we never suspect the crying, jittery, pitiful brother. Or, at least, we’re not supposed to. But THAT was the first thing that popped into my mind when introduced. I thought Surely, I’m wrong and she won’t do the same thing again.

At the end of the novel, it seemed like everything was too rushed and too stereotypical — Bristow stabbing Strike after Strike’s long-ass monologue. Of course that would happen. I am not sure I’ll read the second one. But if I do, then it will only be to find out more about the main characters. I won’t go in expecting to be entertained by the actual purpose behind having a crime novel (which is, um, solving crime).

…For someone who generally hates crime stories, this is actually a positive review. Probably.

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