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We see the story from the eyes of Cormoran Strike, a hapless but determined private detective with a knack for asking the right questions and his accidental temp assistant Robin Ellacott. Not a new mystery novel dynamic to be sure, but told in gripping detail the story latches on to you in a way not many mystery novels manage to do.
In general I feel mystery novels manage to both intrigue and repel me at the same time. I want to know how the crime was committed and what motivated the perpetrators so I hang on, yet at the same time either the characters seem so unreal or so repelling I feel I only make it to the end for the same reason I make it to the end of a news story. That is to say I am not invested in the characters, I just have a morbid sense of curiosity.
The Cuckoo's Calling was different. I felt like I could be friends with Strike and Robin. I identified with them, understood just how they got to their current stages in life, empathized with their struggles, and rejoiced in their triumphs. Even side characters had enough raw emotions and quirks to convince you of their pertinence.
Perhaps one of the most compelling characters in the novel is Lula, the dead supermodel who fell to her death and who's "face was crushed and swollen, one eye reduced to a pucker, the other showing as a sliver of dull white between distended lids." Sometimes Rowling's, ahem, eye for detail can leave your stomach roiling, but that's the price you pay when you a want story to feel real.
Though already deceased you get to know Lula through interviews, side comments, facial expressions and actions of those she knew and cared about. Eventually you become invested in her fate and begin to know the girl beneath the clothes. You feel compelled to find her murderer as a sort of vengeance for her death.
I would definitely recommend The Cuckoo's Calling to those who are not easily made queasy. There is language and violence, but there are relationships, good and bad, that are worth exploring. Besides, it's a mystery. Don't you want to know who done it?
Have you read The Cuckoo's Calling? Would you recommend it?
Now that I have finished my most recent book, do you have endorsments for my next read and review? If you do, please share them below!