Book blogger, audiobook lover and shamelessly honest reviewer. Mostly read fantasy, mystery, romance, UF and YA but all genres welcome.
*The Cuckoo’s Calling is an excellent mystery with intense characters, beautiful imagery and an intricate plot that expertly melds the consequences of fame, psychological issues and questions of race. Before you continue reading, I’ll point out that this is a MYSTERY. If you don’t like the genre, you will probably not like it even if you are a great fan of Harry Potter. As the description points out, this is a mystery in the classic vein so there are no serial killers. Most of the book is about Strike reconstructing events, interviewing witnesses and dealing with the fallout of his failed relationship and his new life. The book is not boring by any means but it won’t appeal to people who don’t like the genre or are offended by cursing – this is an adult book with tons of f-bombs.
The plot is intricate and very well developed but the characters are by far the stronger part of the story. I found Strike in particular very appealing, hairy belly and all. :) He’s big, hairy and sort of ugly (one of his charming childhood nicknames was “pube head.”) However, he’s extremely smart, savvy, very honest and not afraid to get rough if needed. As he starts investigating, he uncovers the life of a mixed-race, bipolar girl who found stardom and couldn’t fully trust anybody. Instead of sadness, her death had a sense of inevitability as if her life couldn’t have ended any other way but in tragedy.
The secondary characters are as strong as Cormoran: the very efficient Robin, Lula Landry and the entourage of people who loved her but nevertheless used her for their own means. I was particularly impressed by two important characters that barely say a word in the book: Charlotte and Deeby Macc. Their presence in the book is so tangible but all we know is what other people think of them. We learn about Charlotte through Strike’s dissection of their relationship and discover Deeby by the lyrics of his songs and the adoration of his fans. I was left very curious as to both characters and wanted to know whether those impressions were real.
I had the pleasure to listen to the audiobook narrated by Robert Glenister. The audiobook was simply fabulous, with Mr. Glenister doing a tremendous job with all those regional British accents. Not being a native English speaker, I usually have problems with those (sometimes I have to turn on the captions when I watch Masterpiece Mystery) but I understood every word, even the slang. I was captivated by his voice and depth of feeling from the moment Mr. Glenister recites the poem at the beginning. He truly does a masterful job with the narration.
Although it’s not clear whether this will be a series, the end of this book felt like a beginning. The way things ended up with Robin and Charlotte seemed to say ‘to be continued.’ But mostly because of the last line of the book, a phrase from a poem that floated out of Strike’s subconscious: "I am become a name."