Book Review on J.K. Rowling’s Cuckoo’s Calling; a True Murder Mystery

Book Review: Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). Published by Sphere Books.

A True Murder Mysterycuckoos calling

I like to mix it up. I’ve been trying to read a large variety of books lately and although I favor certain genres and authors over others, the variety keeps me fresh. It reminds me that every genre has something special to offer and every genre can be a beautifully crafted piece of literary art.

I have to admit a bit of hypocrisy after the above statement because although the Cuckoo’s Calling, a true-to-the-bone murder mystery, is a different genre for me, it was chosen because of my familiarity with and love for the author, J.K. Rowling. Published under the pseudonym, Rowling’s anonymously-published book did receive praise from Crime Fiction lovers, but the book was not a commercial success until Rowling’s identity was revealed.


Enter: Cormoran Strike, a private detective who on the eve of the opening scene was dumped by his girlfriend and kicked out of his house. Forced to sleep on a cot in his office, Strike struggles to pay the rent as his total clientele = one.

Enter: Robin Ellacott, a beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties who on the eve of the opening scene “said yes” as her boyfriend proposed to her in the city park. The book opens with Robin gleefully surprised to show up at her latest temp-agency assignment to a door plaque reading “Cormoran Strike, Private Detective.”

Enter: Strike’s second client, John Bristow, a young lawyer determined that his sister’s death was not suicide as the police proclaimed three months ago. Bristow hires Cormoran Strike to discover the truth and the plot begins.

Enter: Lula Landry, a gorgeous, mixed-raced, high-class model that jumped (or was pushed!?) off her balcony three months previous. Before her death, the adopted, mixed-raced Lula was on a search to discover her biological parents, especially the African American side of her.


stepsA great murder mystery should be designed to make every character a possible suspect. If the author gives away a hint too early or too obviously, it drains the curiosity and therefore pushes the reader to toss the book aside permanently. Rowling does a superb job of making several characters act suspiciously and therefore kept me guessing who was involved in this girl’s death and why. Rowling did such a good job spreading out the suspicion among multiple characters that when the accusation scene came, I wasn’t even sure the truth was coming out! I thought that Strike was accusing this person to get them to reveal something that would lead to a bigger truth.

The Ending (no spoilers)

Personally, I was a little too surprised at the ending. The mystery was revealed all at once with many details being revealed after the accusation. I would have preferred some of these details to have been revealed leading up to the accusation so I could have connected the dots myself instead of having them laid out in front of me.


I greatly appreciated the fact that the main characters had romantic relationships with characters that were not largely present in the novel. I would have been highly disappointed if Strike and Robin had fallen into the typical Boss-Secretary affair. Their outside love lives played a large and successful part in their characterization, but it did not define them.

Overviewjk rowling

Although the story did start off slow, all the pieces came together cleanly in the end. The only connection I made between Cuckoo’s Calling and Harry Potter was the flawless way Rowling wove simple details into the early picture to later reveal their intricate meaning as a central piece to the main puzzle. When it comes to such detail-weaving, she is truly a master. Three and a half stars. Maybe four. Its not higher because although it was an interesting plot with solid prose, it never truly hooked me. I never once wanted to abandon it, but neither did I feel that I could not put the book down.

How I found this book: Popular demand. My boyfriend had the audiobook on his computer so I claimed my place among many HP fans and read a J.K. book outside of the epic series.



About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on April 16, 2014, in Book Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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