I have always been an avid devourer of the written word. I am now no longer to read books and cannot wait for Audible day each month.
I bought this book on a whim with a refunded credit; I really cannot say why. What I can say, with total certainty, is that I'm extremely glad that I did.
It is a psychological whodunnit, centred on the inexplicable murder of a Polish nanny, whose corpse is discovered in a fairly public place by the female presenter of a daytime magazine-type programme. Naturally, the police become involved and the plot twists and turns from this point onwards. The quasi-psychological denouement is built up, not gradually as most novels of this type are apt to do, but in steps and plateaux. This is refreshingly different, although I cannot say much more without spoiling the story for others.
The story is written in the first person and the narration is a perfect rendition of the main character's thoughts, actions and, more than anything, her feelings and emotions. The other main characters are the cliche'd personae of the high-flying city lawyer, the Eastern European nanny, the world-weary Met police inspector, the newspaper hack and the upper middle class Home Counties best friend. Whilst they might be cliche'd characters, they are expertly cracked open and their quirks, foibles and flaws are laid bare and dissected.
In conclusion, I really cannot recommend this book highly enough, but with the caveat that it is not really suited to anyone without a fondness for fictional crime/detective novels. I have awarded the full five starts, both over all and for the superb narration. I have, perhaps, been a touch harsh on the plot and marked it down to four stars. The reason for this is that there are not only a small number of non sequiturs in the peripheral story line, but also the occasional poor construction of language; this broke the rhythm of the prose. As I have said in many previous reviews, this is my review and I dare say that this small criticism is purely subjective and is the direct result of my own "taste and fancy".
This is Dan Brown back to his best; a racy thriller with more twists, turns and total plot inversions than any one book could possibly be expected to contain. It is not great literature, but, then again, it never claims to be. A précis of the plot isn't really possible without spoiling the whole book. Suffice it to say that Robert Langdon, a character who needs no introduction, is back to what he does best, racing across Europe in a desperate attempt to thwart the baddie; who the baddie actually is, however, is swathed in layers of smoke, mirrors and downright misdirection until well into the story.
Whilst Langdon is delightfully the same, he is supported by a cast of well drawn characters who are at once believable yet, in most cases, fundamentally flawed. It is not possible to say more than this without spoiling some element of the caduceus-like plot.
For Audible, however, the performance can make or break the enjoyment of a book, and, in this, the American narration spoiled this to a certain extent. The only non-European character is Langdon himself, so I would have expected some effort on the part of the narrator to reflect this. The entire book is read in American English, the exception being the Italians, whose accents were almost risible in parts, and with such verbal horrors of "niche" continually pronounced to rhyme with "pitch", and "fertile" to rhyme with "turtle". This utterly set my teeth on edge after a while. I appreciate that this is entirely my own personal "taste and fancy", but this is my review and it is sometimes difficult to retain total objectivity.
Overall, this is a great listen, narration aside. Dan Brown fans everywhere will love it; those who never warmed to his oeuvre of the thriller wrapped in conspiracy theory may well be disappointed once again.
Imagine Raymond Chandler crossed with Douglas Adams, and you get something approximating this excellent debut novel from Robert Galbraith. The plot is centred around the death of a supermodel; suicide is the obvious verdict, a verdict that her brother cannot accept. There is little to add about the plot, and laid in such bare terms it sounds like a cliche of countless other novels of this genre. I can assure the listener, however, that both the plot twists and the prose themselves make this anything but a cliche. The author's use of the English language makes the book a must-listen in its own right, the construction of the words themselves are a delight; a number of idiosyncratic similes and metaphors are simply inspired, the description of one model's attempt at a pout making me laugh out loud. Whilst all the characters are colourful in their own right, the book is based around a one-legged gumshoe detective and his temporary secretary, who has harboured a secret desire from childhood to work for a private eye. He is a world-weary former member of the military, she a fresh-faced and somewhat naive Yorkshire girl recently arrived in London. Again, these sound somewhat cliched and two-dimensional when described in such basic terms, but they are so well written that they are anything but. With audiobooks, the narrator is arguably just as important as the book itself. Robert Glenister does a sterling job here, especially with the vocal characterisation of all those we meet. His skills definitely added to my awarding the full five stars to "The Cuckoo's Calling". Anybody who enjoys a good crime novel will love this; anyone who doesn't, won't. This may seem pedantic, but it is worth saying as a great review can sometimes tempt listeners into books that are patently unsuitable for their taste. This may be just another of many detective tales, but I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel.