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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

The Cuckoo’s Calling

You may have heard that JK Rowling has a new book out this year.  Or perhaps, Robert Galbraith has a debut novel out, except that Galbraith is a pseudonym for Rowling.  Rowling has explained on her website that she choose to write this new mystery series under a pseudonym because:

I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.

I have my personal qualms about the quality of the Harry Potter series–mostly to do with the derivative nature of the fantasy and the somewhat meandering plots–but I’ve never doubted that she is a talented prose stylist and a fabulous creator of characters. So I wasn’t surprised that the “unvarnished feedback” to this work was quite positive: a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and a couple of very positive reviews from Booklist and Library Journal all before Rowling was unmasked as the author.

And indeed, that review from PW put it on our radar at this blog–we had a review copy back in March and the first thing I thought when I heard the news was to kick myself for not having gotten the book out to a reviewer quicker. On the other hand, as our reviewer points out, the very fact of its true authorship gives the novel an extra level of teen appeal, beyond just being an excellent mystery novel, so perhaps its all to the good.

In any case, here’s to the beginning of another series by our beloved Rowling–this one for adults, but with plenty of teen appeal.

GALBRAITH, Robert. The Cuckoo’s Calling. 464p. Mulholland: Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $26. ISBN 9780316206846.

Adult/High School-Private Investigator Cormoran Strike is running very low on luck when two amazing things happen in one day. First, a long-unresponsive temp agency sends Robin Ellacott, organizer extraordinaire and wannabe PI, to work for him. Then Strike receives a call from that mythical creature in the world of private investigators-a wealthy client. John Bristow is the half brother of a gorgeous, highly successful model, Lula, who recently committed suicide by diving out of her high-rise apartment. Bristow wants Strike to prove that Lula was actually a victim of homicide, and to find her killer. Complexities ensue: Lula was adopted and biracial; before her death she had been obsessively searching for her African biological father; and she had just broken up with her boyfriend, a handsome cad oblivious to the difficulties in their relationship. Lula’s bodyguards, clothing designers, and fellow models offer cagey, conflicting impressions of the young woman’s mental state. Much of this is standard detective novel fare, featuring a broody, broken detective who is far more intelligent and perceptive than appearances suggest. And yet, Galbraith’s writing carries a familiar undercurrent of warmth and wit, a love for the underdog, and a dangerous edginess that faithful readers may recognize from the author’s work under her real name, J.K. Rowling. Several subplots, such as the inside look at the modeling world or Strike’s famous rock musician father, will interest readers. Basically, however, teen appeal arises from the merits of a well-written mystery novel by a beloved author.-Diane Colson, formerly at Palm Harbor Library, FL

About Mark Flowers

Mark Flowers is the Young Adult Librarian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, CA. He reviews for a variety of library journals and blogs and recently contributed a chapter to The Complete Summer Reading Program Manual: From Planning to Evaluation (YALSA, 2012). Contact him via Twitter @droogmark