BOOK REVIEW: The Cuckoo’s Calling – by Robert Galbraith


Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
(Cormoran Strike Series #1)
Author: Robert Galbraith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2013
Finished reading: September 12th 2014
Pages: 464
Rating 3

“Nillness, thought Strike, for a second distracted. He had slept badly. Nillness, that was where Lula Landry had gone, and where all of them, he and Rochelle included, were headed. Sometimes illness turned slowly to nillness, as was happening to Bristow’s mother… sometimes nillness rose to meet you out of nowhere, like a concrete road slamming your skull apart.”


I guess I am one of the many people who recently heard about The Cuckoo’s Calling only after it leaked out that Robert Galbraith actually is a pseudonym used by J.K. Rowling to avoid people comparing the book with her previous work. I can understand where she was going with that and I will respect her pseudonym by using this name during the rest of my review.  Unfortunately this book has been seriously ‘overhyped’ since Rowling came into the picture, and I cannot say it lives up to the hype now I’ve read it.  Sure, the story itself was quite intriguing and Galbraith threw some nice plot twists in so you are kept guessing about if Lula was really murdered and who would have wanted to kill her until the end. The writing was interesting in general, but I had serious problems with how Galbraith makes his characters express themselves. It just doesn’t sound natural at all; either too antiquated or too many ‘fuck’ included to be able to take it seriously. I mean, an ‘how do you do’ for a 35-year-old ex-military and detective like Cormoran Strike just doesn’t do it for me.


After Cormoran Strike loses his leg while serving in Afghanistan, he is forced to retire and he becomes a private investigator. Things go downwards from there. His girlfriend kicks him out, he now has to live in his office and he is in serious depts. Just as a new temporary secretary (Robin) he cannot afford starts working, a client finally shows up after a long stretch of very slow business. A famous model called Lula died three months ago, presumably suicide, but her brother John Bristow thinks someone murdered her. He asks Cormoran to investigate the dead of his wealthy sister, and Cormoran simply cannot refuse the money John offers him. The police had ruled out foul play already, but Cormoran still has some important contacts left over from the old days. He starts calling in favors, but the investigation is not as easy as it seems.

His secretary Robin is actually a great asset to the case, and she helps him dig up more and more information about the circumstances around the death of the model. It turns out she had a fight with her on/off rockstar boyfriend, she was looking for her birth father and she had invited someone to her house around the time she died… But there still is no trace of the killer or any proof if it was an actual murder. Cormoran soon seems to suspect her death was all about money and goes looking for a will. And in the process, he finds out some other interesting and shocking details. Was Lula murdered after all?


The writing style and cliche moments in the story made me give The Cuckoo’s Calling only three out of five stars. It’s a nice read, but nothing too exciting. Recommended to those who enjoy the whole mystery/whodunit genre.

31 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Cuckoo’s Calling – by Robert Galbraith

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  6. I’ve heard several people mention the unnecessary swearing in the book – I can only assume she put it in to make the book seem ‘adult’. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it, mainly because I was so put off by the hype. Maybe one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand she wanted to use the swearing to further describe the characters, but I think she was overdoing it a bit in The Cuckoo’s Calling. I guess part of the problem I had with this book is that it is seriously overhyped… I think maybe I should have waited a bit more before reading it.


  7. I really enjoyed this one, and its sequel, The Silkworm, even though its incredibly different from what we’ve come to expect from JK Rowling. It’s interesting you point out the way the characters speak annoying you, that was one of my favorite parts! For me it gave them more personality and depth. I think you might have more luck with The Silkworm, in my opinion there was a bit more to it than The Cuckoo’s Calling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In general I enjoy reading books where characters have dialects and different ways of speaking (I’m a philologist and I loved studying dialects when I was in Uni). I mostly had problems with the fact that part of the language used to describe the characters didn’t fit them… Or at least that is how I felt when I was reading The Cuckoo’s Calling. I’m definitely going to try The Silkworm as well; many people seem to like that one better than The Cuckoo’s Calling. 😀


  8. Yea, sounds about right. I love J.K. and all, but I learnt my lesson with The Casual Vacancy where it comes to her non-HP stuff. Even though I grew up on mystery and all that, I doubt these’d be more than okay books for me at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy yet, but I’ve heard VERY mixed reviews about that one. I guess it’s just impossible to compare the HP series to her newest work… I love the mystery genre, but The Cuckoo’s Calling just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.


    • Yeah, I can agree with that… I feel that there are other ways of showing a character is rude and making him/her swear constantly. 😉 I will still try out The Silkworm though; a lot of people seem to have enjoyed that one more than The Cuckoo’s Calling.


  9. I liked The Cuckoo’s Calling much better than The Casual Vacancy — but there are certain things about JK’s writing that are overdone in her adult books and kind of put me off. I’m not usually a mystery fan, but even so, I enjoyed this one (and the copy of The Silkworm I requested just arrived at the library, so I’ll get to read it in the next week or so!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy yet, so I cannot compare the two… But I definitely agree that some of the writing seems a bit forced (like she wants to convince everyone The Cuckoo’s Calling actually is an adult book). I hope you enjoy The Silkworm! I still have to get myself a copy…


  10. Great review! I enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling – I thought it was an entertaining read but, like you said, nothing too exciting. I’m interested in reading the next books just to see how the series and characters are developed. Do you think you’ll continue reading the series?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I will definitely read The Silkworm and any future books… Like yourself I want to see how the different characters develop, and a lot of people seem to prefer The Silkworm over The Cuckoo’s Calling.


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