Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Heard: "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Heard: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), 2013, Overdrive download.

Narrator is not the same as the Potter books but the protagonist, Strike, sounds like Hagrid.

Cormoran Strike is a financially struggling P.I. The novel opens with him splitting with his long-time girlfriend, battling debt, and living in his office. A new office temp, Robin, shows up and then a client shows up. The client is the brother of famed model Lula Landry. Lula committed suicide a few months ago but wants Cormoran to look into her death. Cormoran was friends with Mr. Landry's brother about 20 years ago when both boys were 10.

Cormoran refuses the job at first but the man's grief and sincerity make Cormoran accept the huge advance payment. Cormoran starts to dig. Robin, the new secretary, is thrilled to be working for a P.I. and wants to help.

Cormoran has to work to speak with the reclusive celebrity friends of Lula. Cormoran works his way through the rich and famous and their admirers and (a few) employees. Cormoran is bothered by his leg stump and prosthesis. Robin sleuths online sources. Cormoran interviews and interviews and watches and listens.

Rowling does not throw a bunch of suspects at us but I did get to wondering on motives for several people. Cormoran figures the killer out. The killer is a bit of a surprise and stretch, but the book makes sense. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for the dead people, their grieving relatives, and some characters who were just plain unhappy to begin with.

1. Can Rowling write a short book? This one went on a while and the ending went on even longer.
2. Rowling really focuses on body language and interviewing. She details peoples physical reactions and verbal evasions. Cormoran takes it all in.
3. This very much a police procedural with few police.
4. There are a lot of long interviews with plenty of dialogue. The narrator did well with all the characters.
5. The emphasis on interrogation makes sense because what physical evidence would a P.I. have access to? What lab work could a P.I. have done?
6. So many characters who smoke.
7. Mobile phone spying fears.
8. People reaching fame through weaselly behavior. Weasels weaseling without a wonderwall win.
9. Rowling is showing us modern fame and happiness. I thought her preaching fell flat.  The story is very fun and entertaining. I just did not learn anything insightfull about fame and celebrity. What I did wonder was how much of the stories told about celebrities are things Rowling had first hand experience with as either a victim or acquaintance.

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