Dang it Rowling, I wanted to like this book because I like you and your attention to detail in your writing. But, alas, I could not. Unfortunately, this is going to be short, but probably not sweet.
There is no mystery in The Cuckoo's Calling. The plot is contrived and predictable. It pains me to write this for many reasons: 1) Rowling is normally a fantastic writer with tight prose that forces me to turn the page and 2) I've never written or attempted a mystery and I don't understand the challenges of the genre (even though I enjoy reading it). I knew the killer from the opening set-up and I kept hoping throughout I was wrong. But I was not.
Cormoran Strike is a former solider turned private detective. (I will not even touch on the poorly done military diatribe in this novel - it pained me to even read it...one line in particular is still mulling in my gut of disgust) A childhood friend has turned up asking him to solve his sister's murder because he's sure it wasn't suicide. Of course he's sure...
In the end, as with all series adventures lately, Strike is able to pull the murderer out of a hat with the help of his temp gone sudden "cozy" secretary (Cozy by genre, i.e. amateur sleuth; not cozy by sexual innuendo). I mean, we know there is another book so why wouldn't he be able to solve the crime?
There were too many characters, too many obvious connections, to many contrived ideas, just too many...
And I'm not alone in my "ho-hum" feel about the book. While it received many glorious reviews AFTER it was discovered J.K. Rowling was the author, initial reviews were much like mine. NPR reviewer Maureen Corrigan was not...enthralled, running her review with a headline that read “The only surprise in Rowling’s ‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ is the author.” (I very much concur!)
“'The Cuckoo's Calling' falls into that vast middlin' range of fiction that I mentally shelve in the "I've read worse, but I've read better" category. I couldn't even find a memorable quote from this novel.”
In short, I won't be reading the follow-up to this book. Rowling should really stick to writing fantasy - this is where she shines.