If you haven’t heard, JK Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, has been ‘outed’ (see details) as the author of a new book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery about a private detective’s investigation of a supposed suicide.
Publish in April 2013 under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, Rowling apparently hoped to have the book evaluated on its merits and not because of her fame.
Indeed, those who reviewed it believing it was a first book by Galbraith gave it quite positive reviews. But The Cuckoo’s Calling only sold between 500-1500 copies (exact number is unclear) until last week when The Sunday Times revealed that Rowlings was the author.
The book immediately became an Amazon’s best seller (via its Kindle sales) and is now undergoing new printings. It will be at the top of all the fiction best seller lists shortly, if it has not already there.
My wife Ellen ordered it under my account (“by mistake,” she said), and in my on going efforts to keep MillersTime readers well informed, I read it immediately.
Maybe not as good as an Agatha Christy mystery, but if you’re looking for something along the line of a Steig Larsson book, you’ll probably like it, tho it’s not quite as good as Larsson’s first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.
I enjoyed it more than Rowling’s first non Harry Potter book, The Casual Vacancy, which was well written, but a bit dark for me. I didn’t find any of the characters in that novel enjoyable or likeable, an important factor for me, tho the plot of that novel was engaging.
The Cuckoo’s Calling, by contrast, has two likeable characters, the private investigator Cormoran Striker and his ‘temp’ secretary Robin, and a plot that keeps you engaged throughout the lengthy book. You are kept guessing until the very end, and I, for one, was not able to figure it out.
There is something more than just a thriller here. Striker has some similarities to Jack Reacher (the Lee Child protagonist) or perhaps the private eye Spenser in the Robert Parker series. As the Rowling book unfolds, so does her main character and his ability to figure out what no one else has been able to discern.
I don’t know if some of my enjoyment of The Cuckoo’s Calling was (heavily) influenced by my appreciation of Rowling’s writing. Would I, for instance, have been as positive about it if I didn’t know that Rowling was the author?
I’d like to think so.
Also, reading The Cuckoo’s Calling only after knowing that Rowling had written it made me wonder how many first novels do we never get to read because they are not written by known authors?
If you enjoy detective mysteries, give it a try, and be sure to let other MillersTime readers know if you enjoyed it or not.
And if you like it, know that Rowling has a second one under way, hopefully with Striker as the lead character.
Fruzsina Harsanyi said:
I just finished John Le Carre’s “A Delicate Truth.” I really enjoyed it and was reminded how Le Carre changed the spy novel genre. I’ll order Rowling and start it as soon as I finish the Attack, which has been sleeping on my Kindle since you and Ellen recommended it last year.
Joyce Beard said:
I thoroughly enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling. As I finished it, I immediately googled to find out if a second book with Striker and Robin is in the works. I hope so!