Audiobook Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

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Well wasn’t this a refreshing and very much needed boost to my reading? I’d been told by a book club friend that this series was well worth reading, and should be done soon before the TV series begins! I thoroughly enjoyed the fast-paced nature of this, and though each of these books in the series are fairly chunky, and it would mean the audiobook, (which is how I read it), would be a really lengthy listen, it felt like I was able to listen to this in no time at all. Normally I lose steam with an audiobook of this length and switch to the paper format about half-way through so I can finish it quicker. But, with Robert Glenister narrating — absolutely no problem listening to this one from start to finish! He’s a fantastic narrator – the kind where I wanted to drive around in circles so that I could continue listening!

While I was able to piece together the whodunnit here, I didn’t care, that didn’t bother me at all because of how Strike lays it all out to the culprit at the end is excellent and included more time of driving around in circles but also because Glenister’s narration of Strike’s voice is like butter to me. I’ve immediately started in on the second in the series, The Silkworm, and in audio because of how much I enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling.

However, while I found this to be a great boost for my reading satisfaction (finally it seemed!), there were a few things that sat on my mind throughout:

  1. Stereotypical portrayals:
    1. Of Comoran Strike’s character: he’s the big, rugged private dick wounded in Afghanistan, with the troubled past, unable to accept love, down on his luck, living out of his office, drinks too much, emotionally distant, etc., etc., etc.
    2. Of men: Abusive, domineering, superior and misogynistic. Certainly the character, Freddy Bastigui is one very similar to a Harvey Weinstein character.
    3. Of women: all derided by the male characters, (police, husbands, and lawyers) as empty headed, Pilates obsessed, there for the male’s purpose, possessing no intelligence, described as skeletal, drug addled, with fake bodies and marrying men for money and celebrity only. Lula Landry is given no real description outside of being troubled, adopted, mentally unstable, but of course very, very beautiful. The only woman featured differently is Robin Ellacott – Strike’s temporary secretary.
  2. J.K. Rowling’s use of pen name: Why Robert Galbraith? Why a decidedly male name? That has always weighed on my brain immediately after learning it was Rowling writing using Galbraith as a pseudonym – why did she chose a male name, what did she base this decision on and why? I haven’t really looked into it, but perhaps now I should since it’s always sitting there nibbling away at the back of my head. I don’t know though if I’m really into listening to her explanation though (if she’s given one) – she’s given a few reasons for other decisions and choices she’s made, and they haven’t exactly appealed.

It was interesting to me to hear how Galbraith (Rowling) depicted the sexes in The Cuckoo’s Calling and then to correlate that to her pen name….has me thinking about it for sure. I’m interested now to see if these stereotypes continues in The Silkworm.

The BBC TV series is simply called Strike. Cormoran Strike, is of course, a lot prettier than how he is described in the book, but I can totally get behind Tom Burke – there are other screenshots of him where he looks a little more rugged and tougher, so I think he’ll suit this part well. The trailer looks as though it follows very closely to the story in The Cuckoo’s Calling and I’m now eagerly waiting to see it!

Just one more thing that also played at the back of my mind, (and snort in derision) and was while browsing through reviews for The Cuckoo’s Calling, a number of people wrote (and some bolded this in some cases) “this was surprisingly well written.” Honestly? Why? Why would you find it surprising? Is it because it wasn’t a children’s fantasy series? Yet, at what point are you supposed to express surprise that the world’s wealthiest author can write, and write more than one novel with some clocking in at over 850 pages? My only expression of “surprise” (in parentheses because that isn’t the word to use) is based on what I’ve written above – in the creation of her pseudonym and about the stereotyped depiction of characters – but that Rowling can write does not come as a surprise. At all.