For me THE CUCKOO’S CALLING is an unofficial police procedural (basically Strike is a PI but apart from 1 or 2 scenes, he reads as a cop) with the core premise mirroring the classic whodunit formula. Strike is a war vet and the son of a famous musician who still carries memories of conflict by virtue of a prosthetic lower leg serving as a constant reminder of his former life. He’s disassociated from his wealthy father resulting in the typical lone wolf persona adopted by many Private Investigators in crime fiction, is severely short on funds, and hasn’t been able to bead down an office assistant, until Robin that is.
Robin, on temporary assignment while she waits for more permanent employment forms an organic bond with the downtrodden PI and quickly assumes a minder-like role, creating an interesting dynamic between the two. Any perceived sexual tension or relationship is quashed as Rowling develops the characters as two distinct personalities with their own reasoning and goals rather than establishing them as a detective duo – I liked this approach.
There are similarities with THE CASUAL VACANCY in terms of the way certain characters are portrayed and the manner by which they go about their business with/against one another but nothing that’s off putting or detracts from the murder mystery. Had I not known Rowling was the author I wouldn’t have consciously looked for similarities.
Overall this was an enjoyable slow-burning murder mystery centred around an interesting cast of characters that I’m sure we’ll see more of. I look forward to reading future Strike investigations.