Move over Harry Potter; J.K. Rowling impresses with another bestseller


Monica Rao

I was 6 years old when I read my first mystery novel. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was, or how it happened, but as I turned the pages of Nancy Drew, a building sense of magic seemed to settle in the air. My room began to disappear, the chairs faded away, and three minutes later I was standing in the middle of the crime scene, holding my breath as I waited to see what was coming next. Now, 11 years later, I’m just as hooked on the mystery genre as ever. I’ve cultivated this love, and read up on the classics from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Georges Simenon. But there’s only so many times you can re-read a novel — no matter how well-written it is — so I’m always on the lookout for new mysteries.

My uncle, the original mystery aficionado in my family, recently recommended The Cuckoo’s Calling. A first-time novel from Robert Galbraith, the book was later revealed to have been written by J.K. Rowling, who had chosen to publish this series under a pen name. After hearing that, I was originally skeptical that the famous creator of Harry Potter could master a completely new genre. However, one glance at page one vanquished my fears.

The writing style is elegant and succinct. It isn’t overly flowery, and the words themselves don’t appear to have been pulled out of an SAT book. But there’s something gripping about Rowling’s language. You don’t notice how powerful it is until you look up 40 minutes later, jolted out of a reality that has become the premise of the book. It’s rare to find a novel that makes you drop everything else to keep reading. This is one of them.

Cuckoo’s Calling follows the investigation of the death of supermodel Lula Landry. After originally being ruled a suicide, the case is re-opened by private investigator Cormoran Strike, who is called in by the model’s brother. A 30-year-old war veteran, Strike is quiet and gruff, and struggling to pay the rent. Along with his new assistant, the ambitious Robin Ellacott, Strike finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation as each run-in with a colorful set of suspects reveals drastic plot twists.

For fear of giving anything away, I won’t say more. However, this novel is a must-read. I went so far as to purchase the sequel, The Silkworm, which came out this past June. As someone who only borrows books from the library, this should be a major indicator as to the quality of the series. Cuckoo’s Calling features incredible characters, countless surprises and an enthralling story line. Overall, one of the best mystery books I’ve read. Nancy Drew notwithstanding.

Click here to buy the book on Amazon