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Thursday, May 14, 2015

In which the mystery book group meets Cormoran Strike in The Cuckoo's Calling....

This month's mystery book group meeting was a good one.  Sadly, we said goodbye to yet another member who is moving away, but we also had several new faces.  We're growing, which is a good thing in most ways.  It just makes some things a little more complicated.  All will be well though.  How can it not be when we get to talk mysteries to our heart's content once a month?

Our book for discussion this month was The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - who is also known as J.K. Rowling.  I chose to listen to it on audio and the narrator was Robert Glenister.  I don't think I have heard this narrator before, but he did a good job.  My personal reaction to the book was positive.  Not the best book ever, but certainly an absorbing mystery.  And I felt that though the pace was a bit slow and there were lots of characters, as a first book in a series, some leeway should be given for getting the reader clued in.  The group as a whole was mostly positive, although we did have a few who expressed dislike or 'meh' opinions.  As discussion progressed, more people shared some annoyances.

Let's talk about the plot a bit.  This book is the first in the Cormoran Strike series.  Cormoran Strike is a private detective, formerly a military police investigator.  He has seen quite a bit of action in Afghanistan and indeed lost a leg in a fire fight.  He's come home and recovered physically, but he still struggles with memories.  A private detective, yes - a successful one - well, not so much.  As the story begins, he has only one client.  The other main protagonist is Robin, initially a temporary administrative assistant to Strike.  She shows up one morning for her assignment and finds that not only was Strike not expecting her (he forgot to cancel the temp agency contract), he is living in his office due to a recent breakup with his fiance.  Robin, who has secretly wanted to be a private eye since her girlhood, performs admirably when a new client arrives and Strike requires secretary stuff.

John Bristow, whose younger brother Strike knew as a kid, wants to hire him to investigate the death of his sister, Lulu Landry.  Lulu was a very famous fashion model, who supposedly jumped to her death from her penthouse apartment.  Bristow says he doesn't believe it was suicide, but no one else agrees.  He wants Strike to find out the 'real' truth.

 The group dove in with opinions about the plot, the relationship between Strike and Robin (very positive on that score), the pacing, the number of characters, J.K. Rowling's writing style in this book compared to her Harry Potter books, the ending, the clues throughout, Strike as a character, Robin as a character, the murderer (yes, it was murder), and other tangential issues.  Whew!  Conversation was brisk!  Many felt the book could have been shorter.  Some felt that it seemed like it was written for a TV episode (and there will be TV adaptation).  Many felt the give and take relationship between Strike and Robin was one of the best parts.  It had a humorous angle that reminded me of TV shows like Moonlighting (does anyone remember that one?).  I shared that I enjoyed getting to know more and more about Cormoran Strike himself as the book progressed, a man with many layers and quite intelligent.  Same goes for Robin.  All in all, we felt it was a promising beginning to the series and most said they would read the second book, The Silkworm.  We also heard that the 3rd in the series will be published in the fall.

I felt that for some of the group, our last discussion book, Natchez Burning, may have overshadowed their reading.  We talked a bit more about the next book in Greg Iles' trilogy, The Bone Tree, which has been published since our last meeting.  The pace of both those books is pretty frantic and the storyline quite gripping.  Almost any book would be seemingly 'slow' in comparison.

Personally, I give a thumbs up to The Cuckoo's Calling and I will be listening to The Silkworm in upcoming months.  While I don't think that J.K. Rowling's mystery writing is quite on par with her Harry Potter books, I'll be willing to give her some space to develop it.

Next month, our group will be reading books that have been nominated for mystery awards such as the Edgar or Agatha.  A list of these can be found on the Stop You're Killing Me website.  Each of us will read whichever book or books we choose and then we'll report back to the group about our experience.  We do this once a year and these meetings are always fun.

32 comments:

  1. This book has been on my list for a long time. I've even had it checked out twice but never found time to read it. Someday!

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    1. One day, Tina. It's good, but I wouldn't rush too much. :-)

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  2. I keep putting off reading this. It doesn't appeal much. And JK Rowling is so popular. *sighs*

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    1. Yes, it may not be for everyone. Most that have read the second book say that it is better.

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  3. I've this book in my pile but don't have that urge to read it soon. Maybe some day. ;-)

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    1. Yes, I wouldn't rush too much. It's OK. LOL

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  4. I liked both The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, and I look forward to the next in the Cormoran Strike series. Still haven't read Iles, but he is on my list.

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    1. Good to know, Jenclair. Did you like the second better than the first?

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  5. I had been wondering about The Cuckoo's Calling after initially dismissing it and this gives me a really good idea of what to expect. This does sound interesting though I will be prepared for the TV show feel.

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    1. It was good, Katherine. But I wouldn't rush to read it. LOL

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  6. I haven't been able to bring myself to read any of her post-Potter books, which is so unfair of me. I like your comparison to Moonlighting, though, since I loved that show, so maybe...maybe that might swing me to give this book a try.

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    1. Parts did remind me of the Moonlighting duo. Hoping their relationship stays a bit part.

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  7. I've enjoyed this series, but agree that it is a bit slow. Not plodding, but not as intense as say, Tana French or Mo Hayder. The comparison to Moonlighting is spot on! ;)

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    1. No, definitely not as intense as the two you mentioned. Like I said, for me, her gift lies in the wizarding word. LOL

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  8. I haven't yet read this one. Like one of your other commenters, I keep putting it off. I am glad you enjoyed the audio version, Kay!

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    1. The audio was just fine. Good narrator.

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  9. I started this book, but did not complete it. I agree with those who've said it is a bit slow.

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    1. It was a bit plodding. Could have been told in less words. First book of the series though. Have heard the next is better.

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  10. I enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling, but I can sympathize with the members of your group who were annoyed with or meh about it. It seriously dragged in the middle. Soooo much walking and talking.

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    1. Yes, I agree. A lot of walking and talking. LOL

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  11. I remember reviews of this one being less than glowing when it came out but I hear the next one is better. It was a pretty big change of style for Rowling.

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    1. I've heard the same, Lisa. I'm planning on reading The Silkworm before too long.

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  12. I'm just not into her books, but I am so fond of both the Glenister 'boys' - such good actors, Robert and Philip.

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    1. Robert Glenister was a really good narrator of this one for sure.

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  13. I've been wondering about this one, but I've seen mostly negative reviews of it. Someday I'll get around to trying it for myself ...

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    1. I wouldn't rush too much, Susan. As I said, think that Rowling's gift to the world is Harry Potter. :-)

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  14. I love that idea of reading what you want and then reporting back! I may have to see if our book group would like to be interested in that. I actually think I may miss my book group this month because I didn't start the book and I have a busy week at work this week so I'll probably skip until next month. You'll have to let us know which book you end up choosing!

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    1. I've finished one already, Invisible City. Review to come next week on that one.

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  15. I've had this one on my list for some time now, but haven't gotten around to reading it!

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    1. I totally understand that - LOL!

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  16. I really liked this one and I listened to the audio too. I thought it was a very promising start to a new series with a memorable lead charater.

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    1. I'm looking forward to listening to the next one as well.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!