Quick Reviews: THE CUCKOO’S CALLING and THE SILKWORM by Robert Galbraith (Sphere/Mulholland)

GalbraithR-CS1-CuckoosCallingUKJ.K. Rowling’s new series of London-based PI novels are fantastic.

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger…

I am not entirely sure how to review these novels. To discuss their plots at any length would ruin the plots – something that’s normal, but for some reason feels even more so the case here. The characters, however, are superb – and it is Cormoran Strike, Robin and their supporting cast that make these novels so good. If you haven’t read this series, yet, I strongly urge you to do so. Continue reading

“Cuckoo’s Calling” Art an Homage to Hellblazer? Also, some BAD Journalism.

Not sure why, but the cover art for Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling makes me think of Vertigo Comics’ John Constantine/Hellblazer covers.

Galbraith-CuckoosCalling

The shadowy figure scuttling away, the antique lamppost, the fire-like smog/smoke, the iron wrought fence, London… Ok, so the colour palette is a shade more chirpy than John Constantine’s covers, but if you were to darken it and swap out the birds for bats… Think it would work brilliantly. Below is the closest Hellblazer cover I could find after an admittedly very brief Googling session (by Simon Bisley)…

Hellblazer-SimonBisleyCover

Incidentally, we were finally able to get a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling (since the big reveal, all of my local booksellers have an abundance of copies), and Alyssa blitzed through it in a single day. She said it was really good. I’ll try to get to it in the next couple of weeks, but I can’t promise anything. (Too. Many. Awesome. Books. To. Read.)

Also, in related news, the article in last week’s Sunday Times about the revelation that “Robert Galbraith” was really JK Rowling was the worst bit of journalism I’ve read in a long while. The article is behind the pay-wall, but here are two choice bits that irked me. First of all, the author of the piece was really scraping the barrel, claiming Rowling-as-Galbraith was an elementary deduction, making the article little more than a piece of I-Am-More-Awesomely-Deductive-Than-Thou puffery. The “killer clue” that tipped them off? Yeah, someone told her outright! But after that, the journalist insists,

“Of course it was JK Rowling. There are only two female authors who could write convincingly about the excesses of super-rich, super-glamorous London… There are only two female authors who could write totally persuasively about being chased by paparazzi and write compassionately about being famous. One is Zadie Smith; the other is JK Rowling. I know Zadie and I knew it wasn’t her…”

So, a nice spot of celebrity name-dropping, and a single-handed writing off of 99.99% of female authors who may wish to ever write about high society in the UK. The Sunday Times has spoken: you will never do it convincingly. If you are male? Well, forget it, too. According to the author of the ST piece, men can’t write women well enough or convincingly. The idea that a debut author couldn’t have done this? Unbelievable. The article got worse, however:

“It all became so obvious: the themes of the books are Rowling’s and are subjects she addressed in last year’s The Casual Vacancy – and in the Harry Potter books: noble small people; ghastly, spoilt wealthy ones; social injustice; race; poverty; being in the wrong family…”

So, going by this ‘logic’, Rowling also wrote Gossip Girl… These are universal, as-old-as-time literary themes, and are not the sole (or even rare) province of Hogwarts…