I love JK Rowling of course, so I had to give this a try. It’s the second of her “for-adult” books I’ve tried to read, and the first that I’ve actually finished. “A Casual Vacancy” was so full of profanity and vulgarity that I stopped at the very beginning. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is a bit sneakier, as you don’t get into the depths of depravity until you’re so invested that it’s hard to stop. If not for the multiple characters who drop f-bombs and make very graphic sexual slurs every few words, this would have been a fantastic murder mystery. Also, I so admire Rowling’s description! She manages to paint the scene so well with just a few key details.
The basic premise: Lula Landry, a supermodel known to one of the top fashion designers as Cuckoo, apparently jumps from her balcony in London to her death. Her adopted brother approaches down-and-out private detective Cormoran Strike to re-investigate her “suicide,” convinced that she was actually murdered. With a few rabbit trails about Strike’s personal life and that of his (temporary) secretary Robin, the story primarily centers on interviews of those close to Landry. I did more or less predict who did it (there weren’t that many suspects, and no one else who would have provided the satisfying ‘twist’ that such a story would have required). But I was still engaged in the story. I think this is largely due to the fact that I really liked both Strike and Robin. I also liked that there was no love story between them–that would have been way too much of a side-plot, considering how far apart they are and how much it would therefore take to bring them together–even though this is a series so I suspect there will be a romance there at some point. I’d keep reading to find out how it happens, if not for all the foul language. I just don’t think I want to wade through all that.
My rating: ***