Monday, September 21, 2015

Summer Reading Highlights, Part 4: Mysteries – The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Crossing Places

The Cuckoo’s Calling by "Robert Galbraith" (aka J.K. Rowling) 

I was initially unsure if I would like this book or not, given how much I disliked Rowling’s first adult book, The Casual Vacancy. But where that book was filled with unlikeable people doing terrible things, with a situation that simply kept going from bad to worse, Cuckoo’s Calling was filled with interesting people in exciting situations. It was a curious contrast that Rowling’s murder mystery was substantially less depressing with more sympathetic characters than the straight fiction, but that was indeed the case!

The story itself was suspenseful, but not scary, and had a great twist at the end. Both the characters and the main and secondary stories were compelling, and definitely made me excited to read the two sequels, The Silkworm and Career of Evil. After quite a bit of doubt from The Casual Vacancy, I think Cuckoo’s Calling shows that Rowling can indeed write just as well for adults as she does for children. 

Check out my review of the next 2 books in the series here

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths 

This was another mystery set in England (I’m sure you can start to see a distinct trend in my reading choices), this time in the country as opposed to London, where Cuckoo’s Calling was set. Though at first glance the main characters of both mysteries share little in common -- Rowling's Cormoran Strike is a gruff, imposing ex-military type with a prosthetic leg, and Griffiths' Ruth Galloway is an anthropology professor with body image issues and a couple of cats. Both, however, are emotionally vulnerable and lonely in their middle ages, which makes them much more personable and relatable that they otherwise might have been.

I loved that this modern mystery brought in some very interesting bits of history and lore, and I must say I was very proud of myself that my guesses were fairly close to the mark! Perhaps that means the story was a touch predictable; I still haven't decided if it's better or not if the reader is able to guess the correct suspect in a mystery. I was pretty close in this one and way off in Cuckoo's Calling, but  I couldn't put either of them down, so if that's the real measure of a book's success, then both these mysteries came out winners.

Keep reading! Beth

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