“Nillness, thought Strike, for a second distracted. He had slept badly. Nillness, that was where Lula Landry had gone, and where all of them, he and Rochelle included, were headed. Sometimes illness turned slowly to nillness, as was happening to Bristow’s mother… sometimes nillness rose to meet you out of nowhere, like a concrete road slamming your skull apart.”
– The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #1)
I bought Cuckoo’s Calling as my first audio book. I have a lengthy walk to university, and I was intrigued by the prospect of filling it somehow, of being productive whilst speed walking. With so much to do, and feeling as distracted as I have lately, I’ve been finding it difficult to read books paper or digital. With Audible’s current deal with one book a month for £3.99 I was sold. I tried this for my first book – I’ve been wanting to check it out, because yes, of course the Big Reveal.
At first this book captivated me and I am not sure if it was from the thrill of experiencing listening to a book like this for the first time or the book itself. I’m leaning more towards the former. The writing in this book is lovely – a little stiff at times, but evocative and personal. The characters are engaging and sympathetic. But. I found the book…typical. Although competently written with a streak of dark humour throughout, and a raw portrayal of the struggles of the characters, I found myself eventually drifting away from it all, getting bored.
Strike is your typical unattractive gruff but with a good heart detective, with a Dark Past and a slight tendency to over drink, of course. Robin was slightly more original – wonderfully creative and competent at her job. But then we have the Disapproving Fiancé of hers. And then there is Charlotte, beautiful Charlotte who I feel is treated unfairly in this book – and who never feels more like a touch of melodrama rather than a person. Beautiful and crazy and manipulative, is Charlotte. There is no sympathy for whatever she suffers from. She is just a “nutcase”. That word bothered me, majorly. I do not like that word. And that, that was one thing that really bothered me about this book – this view of mental health as something that only affects the very young, the very beautiful, the very twisted. It is not something that touches the ordinary. I disliked that. I hate when mental illness is treated with that kind of glamour. I think where the book really lost me though was the sex scene. OK, its only talked about as having happened, never in detail and yet somehow it felt gratuitous, and unnecessary, just another thing to think typical about, and/or a cheap way to get Robin to think about Strike that way to create some sexual tension between them (I could see the author playing games trying to set up a will/they won’t they with Strike and Robin, when it never actually felt tense in that way between them – they never came across as more than working partners to me.)
I also wish it was set outside London. Having it set in London only adds another layer of unoriginality, only takes that much more from it. A new city could have added something special and unique to it.
As it is, its a somewhat entertaining, well written book, wonderfully read by Robert Glenister and worth checking out, but not the sort of book to savour, or to fall for. Honestly, I was completely disinterested by the last few chapters and had to force myself to the finish.
(As to how I’m enjoying audiobooks – very. Its nice to be able to ‘read’ whilst getting on with things. Although I do think audio books are very…intangible. It is unlikely I will go and listen to this again, I cannot highlight or take quotes… and I miss major events every time a truck drives past. :/ )