7.6/101 Votes Alchetron
Originally published 4 April 2013
Followed by The Silkworm
Page count 464
Country United Kingdom
Genre Crime Fiction
|Publisher Sphere Books
(Little, Brown & Company)|
Publication date 4 April 2013 (2013-04-04)
Nominations Goodreads Choice Awards Best Mystery & Thriller
Similar J K Rowling books, Crime Fiction books
The cuckoo s calling by robert galbraith aka j k rowling book review
The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It is the first novel in the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels and was followed by The Silkworm in 2014 and Career of Evil in 2015.
- The cuckoo s calling by robert galbraith aka j k rowling book review
- Book review j k rowling robert galbraith s the cuckoo s calling and the silkworm
- Sales and reception
- Awards and honours
Book review j k rowling robert galbraith s the cuckoo s calling and the silkworm
In 2010, Cormoran Strike, a private investigator who is an ex-SIB investigator who lost part of a leg in a bombing in Afghanistan, and also is the illegitimate son of a famous rock star (by an affair with a notorious groupie), is broke, and his birth father's business agent is calling in the loan that he gave to Strike to open his office. At that point, Strike is hired by John Bristow, the adoptive brother of supermodel Lula Landry who had fallen from her balcony three months previously. Bristow wants Strike to investigate his sister's supposed suicide. Bristow's other sibling, a brother named Charlie, had been a schoolmate of Strike before his death, which came when he fell into a quarry while riding on his bicycle. Strike also meets Robin Ellacott, who has been sent to be his temporary secretary despite the fact he can barely afford her. Robin has just become engaged to her longtime boyfriend Matthew, with a wedding set for December. Although Strike only hires her for one week, she turns out to be much more competent than he expected, and they end up extending her stay.
Strike is initially sceptical about John Bristow's claims, having read extensive media coverage following the case, and he is unwilling to reopen such a thoroughly investigated case. However, because he needs the money, he proceeds with the investigation, interviewing Lula Landry's security guard, personal driver, uncle, friends and designer. Each character recounts their recollections of Lula as Strike comes to realize that the circumstances of her death are more ambiguous than he had imagined.
Strike is especially intrigued by the statement of Tansy Bestigui, Lula's downstairs neighbour, who says she heard Lula fighting with a man and then falling from her balcony. It is clear she could not have heard it from two floors below through the triple glazed windows, so her statement had initially been dismissed. However, in reality, her husband had found her with cocaine and then pushed her out onto the balcony and locked her there, where she overheard the attack on Lula Landry. Tansy did not reveal her true location to the investigating officers, because it was -10 °C outside when her husband had pushed her onto the balcony, and her husband had demanded she remain silent, as he was fearful of being arrested for abusing Tansy and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Later, Rochelle Onifade is found dead, killed hours after leaving a meeting with Strike. Strike realises that she must have been in contact with Lula's murderer, though he doubts that she knew the person to be the killer.
Lula, as a mixed-race girl adopted into a wealthy white family, took a special interest in investigating her biological roots before her death. Strike discovers that Lula was murdered for the ten million pounds she possessed, although the police ignore his discoveries. Strike then figures out that John, his client, is in fact the murderer, hoping to get Lula's money, and that he was also responsible for Charlie's death years before. John was using Strike in an attempt to frame Lula's biological brother Jonah for her murder, suspecting (correctly) that Lula had made a will leaving her fortune to Jonah. John planned that if the will, which he had been unable to locate, eventually surfaced, Jonah would be unable to inherit if he had been convicted of Lula's murder. He had hoped that Strike's friendship with Charlie would endear him to him. When Strike presents the truth to John, John attempts to stab him, resulting in a physical altercation. Strike is saved when Robin returns to the office during the struggle.
Near the book's end, before Robin leaves for her next job, Strike gives Robin a green silk dress she had tried on and loved when they had gone searching for information at a dress shop that Lula had frequented. Finally, the two decide that Robin will stay on; both are happy about the decision, though Strike reflects that Matthew, Robin's fiancé, would not be happy about the fact that he had purchased the gown for her. The novel closes with Strike at a doctor's appointment for his injured leg.
Lula's social circle
Lula's biological family
Cormoran and Robin's friends and family
Over the years, Rowling often spoke of writing a crime novel. In 2007, during the Edinburgh Book Festival, author Ian Rankin claimed that his wife spotted Rowling "scribbling away" at a detective novel in a cafe. Rankin later retracted the story, claiming it was a joke. The rumour persisted with The Guardian's speculating in 2012 that Rowling's next book would be a crime novel.
The BBC reported that Rowling sent the manuscript to the publishers anonymously, and at least one publishing house declined it, including Orion Books. It was eventually accepted by Sphere Books, which is an imprint of Little, Brown & Company, with whom Rowling had collaborated on her previous novel, The Casual Vacancy (2012).
The first printing of the first UK edition ran to at least 1,500 copies, with a cover that features a quote from Val McDermid, while the back cover has quotes from Mark Billingham and Alex Gray. All three are fellow crime novelists, who deny having been told Galbraith's true identity. It was stated on the book's dust jacket that "Robert Galbraith" was a pseudonym, but the adjoining biographical details provided about Galbraith's time with the Royal Military Police suggested that the pseudonym was employed simply to protect the identity of a government official, somewhat in the manner of John Le Carre.
The copyright page does not have a number line but simply states, "First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Sphere." The copyright page of the second printings of the first UK edition does not have a number line either, but in addition to the "first published" line quoted above has a second line stating "Reprinted 2013 (twice)". (Trade paperback editions and hardbacks share the same imprint page, and this page lists the number of reprints; it is updated each time there is a reprint. In this case, the trade paperback reprinted prior to the hardback). The reprint also features an amended back cover with additional quotes, while the revised inside flaps now acknowledge Rowling's authorship.
Sales and reception
Before Rowling's identity as the book's author was revealed, 1,500 copies of the printed book had been sold since its release in April 2013, plus another 7,000 copies of the ebook, audiobook, and library editions. The book surged from 4,709th to the best-selling novel on Amazon after it was revealed on 14 July 2013 that the book was written by Rowling under the pseudonym "Robert Galbraith". Signed copies of the first edition are selling for $US4,000–6,000.
The book received almost universal critical acclaim. Most of the reviews came only after Rowling became known as the author, but the early reactions were generally complimentary as well. After the revelation of the author's identity, Declan Burke of The Irish Times gave a very positive review, particularly enjoying its "satisfyingly complex plot that winds through the labyrinth of London’s vulgar rich" as well as its characterization, and deeming it to be "easily one of the most assured and fascinating debut crime novels of the year." Writing for USA Today, Charles Finch echoed this sentiment, also writing: "In both its broad strokes and in dozens of flairs of perception like this one, The Cuckoo's Calling shows that all great fiction — even if it only concerns our workaday world — has its own kind of magic." Slate's Katy Waldman also reacted favorably to the book, lauding its narration and characters and drawing parallels between the book and the Harry Potter series.
In The Plain Dealer, Laura DeMarco hailed Rowling for "fully flesh[ing] out her cast", elaborating: "It's a testament to Rowling's skillful way of imbuing humanity to her characters that although Lula is killed months before the story starts, she comes to life a flesh-and-blood woman in the way many fictional crime victims do not." Publishers Weekly and Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times concurred, with the latter opining: "Strike and his now-permanent assistant, Robin (playing Robin to his Batman, Nora to his Nick, Salander to his Blomkvist), have become a team — a team whose further adventures the reader cannot wait to read." Another positive review came from The Huffington Post, whose David Kudler praised the book as a "taut, well-written mystery that does a wonderful job of reviving an all-but-dead genre" but considered the psychology behind the crime "a bit of a stretch." The Hindustan Times also enjoyed the book, calling it "an entertaining story with characters who hold the reader's interest" but one noted that the conclusions drawn seemed "a little too out-of-nowhere." Jake Kerridge, in his The Daily Telegraph review, awarded the book four stars out of five and summed up the novel as "a sharply contemporary novel full of old-fashioned virtues; there is room for improvement in terms of construction, but it is wonderfully fresh and funny."
Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly gave the book a "B+" and wrote: "Despite the contemporary milieu and sprinkling of F-words, The Cuckoo's Calling is decidedly old-fashioned. Rowling serves up a sushi platter of red herring, sprinkling clues along the way, before Strike draws a confession out of the killer in a climax straight out of Agatha Christie." London Evening Standard gave a mixed review, commending its satirical tone and classic plot, but criticising its "extraordinarily clunky, over-descriptive style that Rowling has made so much her own." A negative review came from NPR's Maureen Corrigen, who slammed the book for being a clichéd "'Mayhem Parva' school of British detective fiction" and its weak characters, writing: "the most intriguing unsolved mystery in The Cuckoo's Calling is why, in this post-Lisbeth Salander age, Rowling would choose to outfit her female lead with such meek and anachronistic feminine behavior."
On 10 December 2014, it was announced that the novels would be adapted as a television series for BBC One, starting with The Cuckoo's Calling. Rowling will executive produce the series through her production company Brontë Film and Television, along with Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts. The three event dramas will be based on scripts by Ben Richards who will write The Cuckoo’s Calling, and Tom Edge who will write The Silkworm and Career of Evil. Michael Keillor will direct The Cuckoo’s Calling, Kieron Hawkes will direct The Silkworm and Charles Sturridge will direct Career of Evil. Jackie Larkin will produce.
In September 2016, it was announced that Tom Burke was set to play Cormoran Strike in Cormoran Strike (TV series). and in November 2016 it was announced that Holliday Grainger will star as Strike's assistant, Robin Ellacott.
Rowling confirmed in a statement published on her website that she "fully intends to keep writing the series", and would do so under the pseudonym. The title of the sequel, The Silkworm, and its publication date, 19 June, were announced on 17 February 2014. It saw Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott, investigating the disappearance of Owen Quine, a writer in possession of a damaging manuscript. A second sequel, Career of Evil, was published in 2015. The title of the third sequel, Lethal White, was announced on 14 March 2017.
Rowling's authorship was revealed by The Sunday Times on 13 July 2013 after it investigated how a first-time author “with a background in the army and the civilian security industry” could write such an assured debut novel. The Sunday Times enlisted the services of Oxford University's professor Peter Millican and Pittsburgh's Duquesne University professor Patrick Juola, whose software programs ran multiple analyses of the novel and other Rowling works, comparing them with the works of other authors. However, it was later reported that Rowling's authorship had been leaked to a Sunday Times reporter via Twitter by the friend of the wife of a lawyer at Russells Solicitors, who had worked for Rowling. The firm has since apologised and made a "substantial charitable donation" to the Soldiers' Charity as a result of legal action brought by Rowling.
After being revealed as the author, Rowling said she would have liked to remain anonymous for a while longer, stating: "Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience… It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."