So now I’m rereading a crime novel and I never do that (and can’t say that anymore). I do love this series by Galbraith – the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling. I don’t know what I expected when I first read it, but certainly not that I’d actually be rereading the first of the series – and maybe all 3 which have been released to date.
The actual reason for the read is that a group (4-Mystery Addicts) chose it for a discussion – but that really just gave me the opportunity. (Fwiw, I’ve only read the 1st book of the Harry Potter series – if I’d been 10 years old I would have gobbled them all up as they came out but I was closer to 50.)
The Cuckoo’s Calling
by Robert Galbaith
2013 /464 pages
read by Robert Glenister – 15h 54m
I know the flaws. It’s too long and there are too many exotic characters, but still… there is a pull here and I really enjoy the book. It’s different in some way – or really it’s Strike and Robin who are the draw because for all their personal problems, they’re never depressing like so many single cops and detectives. They tend to be humorous and fun, almost cheery.
The characters of the book other than Strike and Robin are really rather exotic to me. I know nothing about the lives of the fabulously rich and rock-star famous. And it was a kind of small twist to see a PI try to clear up a suicide making it into a homicide. The solution was unusual, too. So this time it was more familiar and I paid more attention – even knowing the ending, I wasn’t too clear on the hows and whys.
Cormoran Strike is a disabled veteran of the wars in Afghanistan – he has a bad leg as a result, but because he was in the police during his military service he’s set up shop as a private eye in London. He needs a new secretary from the temp agency but the agency is not making enough money for that. He’s engaged to a very rich woman but it’s a rocky relationship. Strike’s father is the famous Rokeby but they have no contact – his mother is deceased.
Enter Robin Ellacott, age 25, who is well-organized, self-motivated, intuitive and a bit of fun. She’s engaged to the straight-laced business-oriented Matthew and he’s not happy about her working for Strike. Strike gets a first client whose adopted sister, Lula Landry, is a world-famous model found dead after falling or being shoved out of the window of an upscale condo. The police determined it was suicide but Lula’s brother is not convinced – he thinks someone pushed her and hires Strike.
Strike interviews a lot of people and sneaks around some while Robin is amazing in whatever capacity she finds herself in.
The main characters – from Wikipedia:
- Cormoran Strike is a struggling private investigator. He has few clients, a large debt, and is obliged by a recent break-up to sleep in his office on Denmark Street. He lost his leg in the Afghan war.
- Robin Ellacott, aged 25, is Strike’s temporary secretary. She has has recently moved from Yorkshire with her boyfriend and becomes engaged the night before the novel begins. She is enthusiastic about detective work, is very intelligent, competent and resourceful. She reveals a number of surprising talents as the story unfolds.
- Lula Landry (Talullah Bristow), a 23-year-old model who died in a fall three months prior to the events of the novel. The object of Strike’s investigation is to determine how Lula died.
- John Bristow is Strike’s client and Lula’s adoptive brother.
- Charlie Bristow is John Bristow’s brother and a boyhood friend of Strike’s. Charlie died when he fell into a quarry when he was around nine or ten years old. Charlie was about six years older than Lula Landry (Bristow).
- Alison Cresswell is in a relationship with John Bristow. She works as a secretary for Tony Landry and Cyprian May in their legal practice.
- Tony Landry is Lula and John’s maternal uncle. He disapproved of Lula’s lifestyle, and raised objections to Lula’s adoption in the first instance. He has a difficult relationship with his sister.
- Lady Yvette Bristow is Lula and John’s adopted mother. She is terminally ill during the events of the novel, and her relations with Lula were strained.
- Sir Alec Bristow is Lady Bristow’s late husband. He founded his own electronics company, Albris. Sir Alec was sterile and could not have children of his own. He and Lady Bristow adopted three children: John, Charlie, and Lula Bristow. Lula was adopted when she was four years old, shortly after Charlie’s death. Sir Alec died suddenly from a heart attack.
- Cyprian May is a senior partner at the law firm where John Bristow works.
- Ursula May (Chillngham) is Tansy Bestigui’s sister and Cyprian May’s wife.
- Evan Duffield is Lula’s on-off boyfriend, an actor with documented drug problems. He was the initial suspect in the media at the time of Lula’s death, but has numerous witnesses to an alibi. He argued with Lula before her death.
- Rochelle Onifade is a homeless friend of Lula’s, whom she had known since her teenage years in an outpatient clinic.
- Guy Somé (Owusu) is a fashion designer, and had a close (though platonic) relationship with Lula. He is the one who calls her “Cuckoo”. He was in Tokyo in the week leading up to her death and is an astute character witness.
- Deeby Macc is an American rapper who was supposed to arrive to stay in the apartment below Lula’s in Kentigern Gardens on the night of her death.
- Kieran Kolovas-Jones is Lula’s personal driver who has aspirations of fame as an actor.
- Ciara Porter is a model, and a friend of Lula’s.
- Freddie Bestigui is a film producer and neighbour of Lula’s. He is difficult to contact and has a reputation for being difficult and abusive. He and his wife Tansy are in the process of a divorce.
- Tansy Bestigui (Chillngham) is Freddie’s wife and a key witness, claiming to have overheard some of the events on the night of Lula’s death. Her plausibility is an issue for the police, and initially for Strike. She is the sister of Ursula May.
- Bryony Radford is Lula’s personal makeup artist and one of the people she meets on the day of her death.
Lula’s biological family:
- Marlene Higson is Lula’s biological mother. She sells her story to the press at every opportunity and lives in much poorer circumstances than Lula’s adoptive family. She had two sons after giving birth to Lula, but Lula was not interested in helping Marlene find them. Both were taken away by social services.
- Dr Joseph “Joe” Agyeman , Lula’s biological father. He met Marlene Higson as a student. Later an academic, specialising in African and Ghanian politics. He died five years before the events of the novel.
- Jonah Agyeman is Lula’s biological half-brother, serving in the British Army in Afghanistan.
Cormoran and Robin’s friends and family:
- Lucy Strike is Cormoran Strike’s younger half-sister, Strike attends her son’s birthday party during the novel. Strike describes her as judgmental, and craving a desire for suburban stability. He admits to being fonder of her than almost anyone else, though their relationship is often strained.
- Jonny Rokeby is Strike’s famous pop-star father and has only met him twice in his lifetime.
- Leda Strike is Strike’s mother, a ‘supergroupie’ of Jonny Rokeby’s. Although an habitual drug user, she died of a heroin overdose (a drug she had not previously used) when Strike was 20. He has always suspected his stepfather had something to do with her death, though few agree with him.
- Charlotte Campbell is Strike’s longtime, rich and mercurial fiancée, from whom he finally splits as the novel starts.
- Matthew Cunliffe is Robin’s fiancé and works as an accountant. He proposes to Robin at the beginning of the novel. He does not approve of her working for Strike, whom he initially considers to be a shady character. He is described as being tall and “conventionally good looking”.