Just Audiobook Reviews

Just Audiobook Reviews: Read detailed information, with minimum or no spoilers, about the narration and story of audiobooks I've listened to.

Audiobook Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

by admin on July 14, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling  (Crime Thriller)


Robert Glenister does a great job narrating this story. Initially,  I had to adjust to his female voices, but as the story progressed, I enjoyed them more and more. He has a great stash of male voices and does a good job  with the various accents. He reads this book with such engagement that he brings the story to life. Honestly, at times, I forgot he was the only one narrating it. The second book is scheduled for release in a year. I hope Robert is narrating it, also. 

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

A famous supermodel falls from the window of her expensive flat and is dead upon impact. Her brother refuses to accept the conclusion that his sister committed suicide. Detective Cormoran Strike, who lost a leg in an explosion in Afganistan, is hired by the brother to find out what really happened to Lula Landry the night of her death.

 If you like your whodunits peppered with a mounting body-count and pseudo-tensioned with empty threats and the inevitable failed attempts to kill the investigator, The Cukoo’s Calling is not the story for you. This crime thriller revolves around ever mounting clues supporting Landry’s suicide or her murder.

There is a real-life flow to the story. The detective’s investigations encounter the expected delays and setbacks and oppositions. In the interim, through his activities and reflections, Cormoran Strike is introduced to readers. Basic knowledge and background about him is revealed, so that in subsequent books, such explanations won’t be necessary.

 J.K. Rowling has a gift for introducing characters in a way that imprints them in the mind and emotions as real people. As she reveals their physical attributes, she incorporates dialogue that moves readers right into those characters’ unique ways of self-expression. By the time the conversations are over, listeners are fully connected with these personas.

This book has an engaging cast of characters ranging from the rich to the poor. These individuals are vivid and entertaining, with each one’s story adding to the pool of information surrounding the investigation. My favorite minor characters are Ciara Porter and Guy Somé. Both of them are part of Lula’s fashion-model circle. This dazzling and sought-after crowd has its own brand of raw honesty, makeshift family bonding, and acceptance or rejection of its fellow members. It was great to spend time in their world.

A good deal of profanity is used. Most of the cursing is done by the people being interviewed.

There are ways in which the book could have been better. Certain scenes, setting details, and repetitious content in some of the interviews could have been shortened or deleted. Also, a critical question wasn’t answered to my satisfaction, though this absence may be just a personal concern. Finally, the dénouement is somewhat disarming. Parts of what is included in it would have worked better in the epilogue.

Despite the aspects which I’ve pointed out as needing improvement, I enjoyed this story very much. The reason: Cormoran Strike. He is such an endearing protagonist. He’s an underdog, as practically all heroes must be, these days. However, I never felt like I was being dragged through an endless dark pit of despair because of the hand life dealt him. He is a caring person, who can be objective and emotionally detached. While I understood his reasons for feeling the way he did, there were times, I strongly disagreed with his lack of sympathy for some of the other characters. However, I felt close enough to him that we could have sat down together and discussed our differences of opinion. He controls his investigations with effortless subtlety and unintentional humor. Overall, he is wonderfully human with the right degree of vulnerability.

I liked his detective-methodology: the way he collects dots without connecting them until the very end of the story. Readers are present as he makes inquiries and accumulates information, but they don’t know what final conclusions he has drawn until the very end.

Robin, the female protagonist, is the ideal match for Strike. While she is definitely second to him in this first installment, little prescience is needed to see how she’ll be expanded in future books. Robin is down to earth, eager to assist and to learn, and nobody’s push-around. I welcome the fact that she is decidedly intelligent, feminine, and attractive.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is written primarily in Cormoran’s point of view and/or sometimes in Robin’s. I didn’t find this switch in POV to be the least bit distancing. While it’s easy to accept these two as a team and therefore to accept being privy to their individual thoughts and feelings, I seldom felt separated from Strike at any point in the story. There are a few scenes with Robin in which he is not present, but her contemplations or discussions keep us connected with him. Rowling’s use of the two POVs is handled well.

I do wish the second book featuring this detective were available. If it were, I would be reading it, now. I’ve already started listening to this audiobook again, and if this book sounded like your kind of crime thriller, I encourage you to start listening to it for yourself.

 You can hear a five-minute sample and download your copy.  

Bibliography: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling
Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins (unabridged)
Publisher: ©05-16-13 Hachette Audio