So last week, I told you about this fabulous bookstore I went to in Maastricht. The first book I dove into was The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the new series about private detective Cormoran Strike. The author Robert Galbraith was quickly revealed to be a pseudonym of J. K. Rowling, which is why I was curious about this book.
I’ve been reading this book during my morning and evening commute. It’s quite descriptive, but not annoyingly so. It details how Cormoran Strike started to invest the case of a young supermodel’s death that was ruled a suicide by police. Throughout most of the book, he is chasing clues and talking to the people involved. We get a glimpse into his private life and see his relationship with his plucky assistant Robin evolve. The story moves along at a steady but slower speed, which made it perfect for my commute! But of course, I didn’t get to read the most exciting part in one go. You see, the book is split up into 5 parts, and in the fifth and final part, Cormoran is going to face off with the person that murdered the model and explain how and why it happened. Naturally, my train arrived at the station just as I was halfway through the first chapter of the fifth part. I hurried home to finish the book and fifteen minutes later, put it down with a satisfying thud.
So, the story. This is a classic detective story, set in London. The setting is quite important in the story and acts almost like another character as the private detective Strike is often shown walking through the city. Specific streets, parks, buildings and walking routes are mentioned and the story couldn’t be set anywhere else. Cormoran is an army guy that worked in a special unit that serves as the army police, but then he lost his lower leg and was sent home. There he became a private detective, using the skills he learned in the army, to solve cases. However, business hasn’t been good lately and when his girlfriend breaks up with him, he’s forced to go live in his office (a fact which he tries to hide from his temp secretary). So when he gets contacted by John, brother of the deceased supermodel, he devotes all his time and effort to finding out what happened.
“Strike was used to playing archaeologist among the ruins of people’s traumatised memories.”
He talks to the supermodel’s friends, family and coworkers. He traces her steps and tries to recreate the last days of her life. He uses his old army contacts, talks to the police, and tasks his secretary Robin with several important projects like trying to contact a famous fashion designer, getting in touch with a rapper who might be involved, trying to get through to a movie producer, researching the model’s biological father, … She exceeds his expectations and he likes working with her. Robin, on her side, loves the private detective business. It’s been her secret dream ever since she was a child, and even though she’s applying for other jobs, she doesn’t really want to leave.
Since this is a detective novel which revolves entirely around the crime and the investigation, I won’t spoil it for you by revealing who did it, why and how. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the series! They are lying on my bedside table right now, just waiting to be picked up.
“But the lies she told were woven into the fabric of her being, her life; so that to live with her and love her was to become slowly enmeshed by them, to wrestle her for the truth, to struggle to maintain foothold on reality.”
This book really reignited my love of detective stories. I’ve read a bunch of Sherlock Holmes books, at several stages in my life actually. They were some of the first books I read when I decided I was going to study English at university. I read another story during university for class and after the Sherlock Holmes movies and BBC-series, I read a few others. I haven’t really read any of the other classic detectives like Dupin (though I have read Edgar Allan Poe) and Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie), but I did enjoy me some Dan Brown. Those books are actually what got me interested in modern-day detective stories because I usually prefer modern detectives in TV-format. Anyway, I digress. Point is: Dan Brown got me liking the modern version of the genre, but it got old because I felt like it was always the same. So Strike now got me back into the genre, he’s different, modern and very well-written (but I didn’t expect anything different from our Rowling queen). Now, who would I recommend this for? Everyone!