The Cuckoo’s Calling is a murder mystery. I haven’t read too many murder mysteries, but it seems a bit classic in form.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
I hadn’t actually heard of it, but I learned this week it was written by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame under a nom de plume. It was said to have received great reviews, but was virtually unheard of to most of the public until the news of its author’s identity was revealed.
I had to check it out because I wasn’t a fan of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy; not that I disliked it—it just wasn’t interesting to me.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I finished the sample and was for the most part pleased. Rowling is highly skilled and it shows—no ‘Dan Brown Syndrome’ here. Rowling is exceptional at creating characters. That said, I actually ALMOST quit long about page 16 or 17 until I saw the words which promised me a plot: Private Detective.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
I do have some constructive criticism for this work, chiefly the beginning is a little slow. We start with a nice poem from which the novel derives its name (not usually a fan of poetry, but I enjoyed this one), then we get an epigraph for the prologue about famous people’s misfortune.
The prologue tells about a celebrity who apparently jumped to her death, but even that takes a while to get off the ground while Rowling establishes setting and mood. Not too long, though.
Then the novel proper begins with a ‘THREE MONTHS LATER’ and a newly engaged young woman headed to a temping job. It was at this point I was flagging as no plot was yet established and I was nearly twenty pages into the book. I suspect Rowling was setting up relate-ability with the reader as I understand women are the primary consumers of detective fiction.
As I said before, I gave Rowling the benefit of the doubt when I saw the words Private Detective and kept reading. So another character is introduced who, despite himself reminds me of Hagrid, and finally there’s a hook in the characters—but still not quite a plot. The plot does come before the end of the sample, but Rowling hooks us with her characters. They are endearing and believable within a few passages and you’ll want to read on to spend more time with them.
A few minor flaws don’t stop this book from being enjoyable. This is one I’ll check out at the library once the demand subsides. You should try it, too!
I might also write a post about pseudonyms like this one!
I’ve heard there’s a lot of contention over the author’s use of a nom de plume. What do you think about Rowling’s fake name? Leave a comment and let me know!