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Harry Potter author grows up with great new mystery series

Cover of Robert Galbraith's novel

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


JK Rowling doesn't need to write another book. The Harry Potter author is obviously set for life. But it's a darn good thing she keeps at it. Under the name Robert Galbraith, Rowling has kicked off the true heir to her beloved wizard series with Cormoran Strike's detective adventures in The Cuckoo's Calling. Set in London shortly after the tragic apparent suicide of a supermodel, the struggling Strike reluctantly takes on an investigation of her death. While the murder plot is fairly straightforward, Galbraith's writing makes the novel something special. A pinch of social commentary combined with really fabulous characters make sure you won't stop turning the pages.

The novel moves between the points of view of Cormoran Strike, the illegitimate son of a Mick Jagger-like rock star, and his accidental temporary secretary Robin. Robin dreamed of being a detective as a little girl, and her assignment with Strike fills her with such a childlike glee that the young woman is instantly likeable and endearing. Strike takes more time to warm up to, but his scruffy charm comes out soon enough. Strike is a veteran of the British army, and a disabled one at that. Galbraith does an excellent job of showing their relationship grow and strengthen as the novel progresses and they become more familiar with each other. What's even better is the lack of romantic interest between the two. In a world where romance plots have mucked up otherwise fine novels, seeing a man and woman being intimate coworkers without becoming intimate is a breath of much-needed fresh air.

Much like her Harry Potter series, Rowling (Galbraith) populates this novel with fantastic, over-the-top characters. Fashion designer Guy Some, model Ciara Porter, socialite Tansy Bestigui, aspiring actor and limo driver Kieran Kolovas-Jones and troubled youth Rochelle Onifade are some of the supporting characters who both add great texture with their personalities and give you a look at how JK Rowling views England. As the investigation continues we get to see Lula Landry, the victim, through the eyes of others. It's a marvelous feat--the character has been dead for three months at the start of the book, yet she comes alive through the investigation of her death. And what's even more marvelous is that she is not merely deified. She was beautiful, but troubled and complex. It's easy to say a female character is strong, but despite being a murder victim, Lula Landry is more than that--she is real.

Rowling's writing as Galbraith is a lot of fun to read and will have that familiar spark that Harry Potter fans likely missed in the author's previous entry, The Casual Vacancy. The Cuckoo's Calling is the first novel of a planned series, and it'll be interesting to see how the characters change as the series continues. If you like mystery novels, it's a nice, if not groundbreaking entry in the genre. But it really is a wonderful, engaging novel.

You can find JK Rowling / Robert Galbraith's novel The Cuckoo's Calling at your local chain bookstore, online or at an independent bookstore near you (click here for a list). Also look for the eBook download on your Kindle, Nook, iPad or other eBook reader.