Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith

Cormoran Strike is a down-and-out private investigator in London. He lost part of a leg serving in Afghanistan, has broken up with his beautiful fiance and is living in his office, and owes money to his rock-star father, whom he has only met twice in his 35 years (his mother, long-dead of a drug overdose, was known as a super-groupie). To top it off, a new temporary secretary has shown up, despite his request to the agency not to send anyone (he cannot afford to pay her). His luck is about to change, however, because the new temp Robin is an excellent assistant and, more importantly, a lawyer hires him to investigate the death of his supermodel sister. Needless to say, Strike discovers what really happened to the beautiful young woman.

I probably wouldn't be writing about this book, since I have generally stopped writing about all but the best mysteries I read. The Cuckoo's Calling is entertaining--albeit longer (455 pp.) than it needs to be and using the rather tired convention of the private investigator meeting with the villain to explain in detail how he solved the case--but it's not a great mystery. However, it is notable because Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, she of Harry Potter fame. In Cormoran Strike, she has created an endearing character, and I will definitely give the second title in the series a try.

Favorite passage:
This was the hour when he found London most lovable; the working day over, her pub windows were warm and jewel-like, her streets thrummed with life, and the indefatigable permanence of her aged buildings, softened by the street lights, became strangely reassuring. We have seen plenty like you, they seemed to murmur soothingly, as he limped along Oxford Street carrying a boxed-up camp bed. Seven and a half million hearts were beating in close proximity in this heaving old city, and many, after all, would be aching far worse than his.

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