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cuckoosTitle: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Writer: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)

Publisher: Sphere (2013)

Pages: 449p

Bought at: Kinokuniya Siam Paragon, Bangkok (Baht 495, disc 20%)

Cormoran Strike (what a great name!) is a war veteran who had been wounded physically and mentally. He came from a dysfunctional family, had just broke up from a intoxicating relationship, and tried to start a private detective business with not so much luck.

He’s on the verge of bankruptcy until one day a special client comes to see him. John Bristow, the man, asks Strike to investigate the truth behind his sister’s death. Everyone (including the police) thought that her sister, the famous supermodel Lula Landry, had conducted suicide and jumped from her apartment balcony. But Bristow believed her sister wouldn’t do that, not in the midst of her prime life.

This is the biggest case that Strike ever had, and he starts to investigate everyone, from the Bristows circle of family and friends, to the famous figures and supermodels, Lula’s acquintances. Helped by his new secretary, Robin, Strike tried to prove that he’s not just an ordinary failure – and can make a breakthrough of his sodden life.

I understand how hard it must be to become JK Rowling. After years of praises for her Harry Potter series, she faced a quite harsh critics for The Casual Vacancy. That’s the reason -I guess- she wanted to do something fresh- and created Cormoran Strike with her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Unfortunately for her (and fortunately for the publisher), the news leaked very fast and before you knew it, people all over the world started to look for The Cuckoo’s Calling. From an unknown debut to the most wanted book in the world, Cuckoo’s Calling opened a new face of JK Rowling.

As a mystery, this book doesn’t have new formula. The tension is okay, the twist at the end of the book is decent- although not unpredictable. But what sets this book apart, I think is the way Rowling had woven magically the characters development inside this story. Just like her other works, this book also offers remarkable details of its characters- their flaws and best features, all become a perfect combination along the story. Cormoran is not an ideal hero:he’s not handsome, a bit fat, failed a lot, and only has one leg! But everyone loves underdog stories, and Rowling knows about this too well.

If Harry Potter is limited because of its targets, and Casual Vacancy became too grim and dark, then The Cuckoo’s Calling has the perfect ingredients. I couldn’t help but sympathize with Strike, his dark past and bleak future. And Robin, his sidekick, reminds me a lot of Hermione- smart, nice and pure- without being too perfect so people can still love her.

And luckily, Rowling didn’t put unnecessary romance plot inside the book- so all is good until the end. I do hope that there’ll be sequels- and whatever name she’ll use in the cover, it doesn’t matter🙂