dorinda: Cary Grant, in "Bringing Up Baby," clutches his head beneath the letters "OMG WTF". (WTF_CaryGrant)
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posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:40pm on 31/03/2017 under ,
Has anyone else out there read the first detective novel by "Robert Galbraith" (revealed to be J.K. Rowling), "The Cuckoo's Calling"?

Because I just finished the audiobook yesterday--read by one of my favorite audiobook readers, Robert Glenister (actor, brother of Philip)--and am a bit grumpy about it. (Though Robert Glenister does a terrific job, as always. ♥)

The thing is, it's full of cliches (which granted I might call "tropes" if I liked 'em better) that feel so worn out and negative. Not that an old trope is a bad thing--detective stories are a big old trope in action!--but I don't know, things felt old in a tired/irritating way, not in a classic/familiar way.

The one that bugged me maybe the most (other than the identity of the killer, which will be under cut) was the whole setup and dynamic with Cormoran Strike (detective)'s new assistant. She's a young woman, who ends up basically caretaking and mommying him, cleaning up the office, making him tea, asking what's wrong, following & nannying him when he gets smashed-aggressive-drunk, managing his feelings. It's kind of like Effie from The Maltese Falcon, except with decades upon decades more time and more books having gone by so the stereotype is both exhausted and exhausting. (Also, Effie is a bit more feisty.) A naive young woman being an older man's pretty-but-off-limits-mommy, BLEAAHHHHHHHHHH.

Also, I was baffled by

the identity of the killer. I mean, totally baffled. Because the thing is, the book never ever explains why on earth the guy who killed her would then go and put a PI on the case, when everybody and their dog was convinced it was suicide. To stay undetected, obviously all he had to do was DO NOTHING. Go about his life.

But instead, I guess for the SHOCKING SURPRISE, it's him, against all reason. Someone online suggested he hired Strike to make sure the uncle got nabbed for the crime, but I don't remember any reference to that in the book at all. And it still wouldn't have made sense--he would've had to have made some moves toward framing the uncle at least a little tiny bit, and I didn't see anything.

Also other completely convenient irrationalities on the killer's part--keeping the super-incriminating cell phone locked up in the home safe, because "he didn't dare dispose of it"??? You telling me he "didn't dare" remove the sim card & smash it & flush it, smash the phone body, run it over, drop the empty phone in the river...oh, try ANYTHING other than keeping the entire phone and its contents intact in his own home safe with a new combination only he knew? Cripes.

The book seems to possibly sense that the solution is based on a lot of irrational self-defeating behavior on the killer's part, because after the reveal Strike keeps saying he's "insane", "a psychopath", etc. etc. Oh I see, he's SO cRAzy that he only gets away with his crimes due to lashings of sheer chance funneled to him by the author. And that's also the only reason there's enough proof to convict (e.g. cell phone in safe, ridiculous confession under pressure in PI's office, attacking PI ditto, etc.). Uch.

In short, wah. I was hoping I'd really like the book, partly because there are more in the series now (of course), and the audiobooks are all read by Robert Glenister. Also, it's being filmed for TV, with Tom Burke (Athos on The Musketeers) as Cormoran Strike, and that might very well be enjoyable.

Dammit, book! Be more good!
There are 8 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
aerye: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] aerye at 06:09pm on 31/03/2017
I was really hoping to like it too—I'm was in the mood for another detective series I could get chummy with—but I found it not compelling in the worst ways. I thought of reading the second to see if it got better, but I wasn't even engaged enough to give that a whirl. ::sad face::
dorinda: From a French postcard of 1902: a woman in hat, coat, cravat, and walking stick writes on a pad of paper. (writer)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:28pm on 31/03/2017
Woe! That was just my hope as well. And selfishly I was like, ohboy, a Rowling-series for meeeee (I read maybe half of the Potter books but then drifted away, never really got hooked I guess). Having a series you love by a prolific writer is the best thing ever, so much to savor and look forward to.

I still do have the second book on my library wishlist, mostly for the next time I am craving hours of Robert Glenister murmuring into my ear. He's done other audiobooks, but these are the only ones my public library has with him. We'll see if I am ever in a forbearing-enough mood to listen to it.
cesperanza: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cesperanza at 06:54pm on 31/03/2017
I read them all and I like HIM, Cormoran, but if you're pissed now read no further, lol. Robin's going to get trooper in ways you likely won't like. Can give you spoilers if you want.
dorinda: Nathan Wuornos (from Haven) presses a plastic fork hard against his palm. (Haven_nathan)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:24pm on 31/03/2017
I did like Cormoran, by and large. Except for another super-stereotypical aspect that grated on me, where dude character with serious medical condition refuses to look after it or have it medically checked--won't use crutches, won't go back to the doctor, won't be a sensible grownup human being.

I mean he was given canon motivation in that the memory of the hospitalization was off-putting and distressing to him, woven into the original distress of the injury, etc. But come on, you are apparently a recent-enough amputee that the stump still runs into trouble with the prosthesis, GO TO THE FUCKING DOCTOR you giant baby.

*cough*. Sorry. Just run into that a lot, you know, the guy who would rather manfully struggle along and hurt himself further rather than having any support system whatsoever (not even his actual crutches). Another trope that I would've found refreshing turned inside-out instead for a change. Blow the cobwebs off it and do something fresh.

Please do spoil me for Robin! It would be a kindness. You'll save me some tooth enamel from running into it unexpectedly.

cesperanza: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cesperanza at 07:28pm on 31/03/2017
We learn that Robin was a rape victim at university, which derailed her career, and now she's heroically fighting back and all that. Also the on-again/off-again with Matthew is tooth-grindy. But if you can put that aside...
dorinda: Shot from MST3K short "Mr B. Natural," showing a white boy from the 50s, with "CONFORM!" superimposed several times. (mst_conform)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:38pm on 31/03/2017
Aaaahahahahahahaha of COURSE. *blows cobwebs offa that gendered chestnut as well*

Man would I love it if those character-trauma-backstories were swapped the other way round! Strike had her thing happen to him, and she has the missing lower leg.

Matthew sure feels the cardboardiest, a one-man stodgy-disapproval machine. Poor dope. It's another aspect that feels so old and creaky--not only him (an ACCOUNTANT, of course, poor accountants are always alllwayyyys drawn as the pecksniffiest primmy-pants) disapproving of the job, but also that weird man-competition for her attention going to Strike. Sigh.

gwyn: (middleman german film)
posted by [personal profile] gwyn at 07:22pm on 31/03/2017
This sounds so much like the self-published mysteries I read for work. People want me to give them content reviews and I'm like…um…

dorinda: Hands reach for two identical glasses, which are labeled "half empty" and "half full". (halfemptyhalffull)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:32pm on 31/03/2017
Oh, man, ouch. And I know writing mysteries is hard, I do have sympathy etc. But...I guess just like with every other genre, I only have so many "buy-ins" I'm willing to make, so much disbelief I have the strength to suspend, before it gets to be too much and I drop the whole thing on my toes.

So, maybe if there had been something more refreshing and enjoyable about the central character dynamics with Cormoran and Robin, I wouldn't be as bugged by the fast-and-loose mystery solution. Or if the mystery itself had been tighter or more interesting, I wouldn't be as bugged by the hoary old adolescent-man/mommy-woman thing going on in the characters. But I just couldn't carry all of it at once!

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