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The cukoo's calling - book review

It is Christmas time, joy and ebullience in air everywhere, got some free time and so I finished reading the first ever crime thriller novel written by the Harry Potter creator J.K.Rowling. She wrote this novel under the norm de plume, Robert Galbraith. The book is a massive 550 odd pages one with so many difficult words to consume for non-English speakers like me, I was forced to resort to my dictionary so many times that I lost my count. But it was worth and I liked it despite the tediousness and lousiness it caused by its level of difficulty and sheer bulk.

The book was refreshing as it deviated from the usual crime story style as that of Agatha Christie/Conan Doyle, though I feel the latter styles are very effective ones with lot more takers. Contrasting to the comfortable and flamboyant, Hercule Poirot or the eccentric/manic Mr. Holmes, the sleuth "Cormoran Strike" is devastated, destitute, massive, hairy and rough natured. We are introduced to him when he is just separated from his wife, the beautiful Charlotte, the purpose of that character, I did not understand as many others already pointed out. Interestingly, he did get a beautiful yet efficient and enthusiastic temporary assistant "Robin" (even though she has a decent lover, who at times seems confused whether she has fallen in love with Strike). Robin is oblivious of his troubled past but quite sentient about the present troubles of divorce and bankruptcy glaring at him. Almost at the same time of Robins entry into the scene, lands their first case; a high profile and lucrative case,which happens to be the silver lining for Strike. Besides all these bleak and freak facets of Strike's life, his freakiness is quadrupled by his leg prosthesis: yes, he is a one legged man (ex-military paraplegic) and that leg is aching all the times, during the entire story which I hated and found to be excruciatingly annoying.

Yeah now the story. No spoilers here. I don't want you not to read the book. The plot revolves around the death of a high flying model starlet " Lula Landry" (affectionately called Cuckoo by some) who is drug inflicted, adopted by a wealthy family and searching for her roots which is African (Yeah, she is black and at the end of the novel, proves to be a very resolute and articulated character, it seems Rowling is not at all racist, Harry Potter series too had black/Indian characters, I particularly loved that fact). Her death was marked as suicide, but her close and near ones don't believe that and hires Strike to unveil the truth behind her death. Amusingly almost the entire bulk of the book, is just conversation, conversation and conversation only. Strike interviews the people connected with Lula preparing notes about the circumstances which prevailed during that awful day of cuckoo's death, scribbling meticulously in his note book and mind mapping. Robin is quite handy when it comes to situations which demands conning as somebody else. She is very bright with several accents and an uncanny ability to blend in. Strike remains productive despite his crippled leg, but laments to his self about his leg troubles all the time. The book is replete with the scenes of high fashion shoots, pubs and stereotypes/idiosyncrasies of high life. The book delves into the difficult lives of celebrities and sympathizes  with the breach of their privacy.

Finally the climax is quite good. The deduction comes only in the last few pages. You will get that only if you reach there. But if you are a hard core thriller addict and love the detection based on deduction akin our beloved Holmes, you will get frustrated with each page and probably will not reach there. But writing style is very lucid and if you keep your interest till the last, it is a good catch. I must warn you, patience is a virtue, especially with this book. It is a different thriller, may be old style, with a definitive edge of Rowling's phenomenal mastery of  English language and indomitable story telling. Worth a go if you have loads of patience and eons of time.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5.0. I would have given 4.0 if she had not included so many unnecessary details of the lamentations about the leg and the unsuccessful relationship with Charlotte.


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