Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies.

Uh-oh, a simile means description. The reader wonders what the buzz is about so reads the next sentence. Mind you, we're reading yet another prologue.

Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-snouted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam. Snow fell steadily on to the hats and shoulders...

Weather. Finally. I was wondering what it was like outside. Anyway, to make a long story short, after more painfully drawn out paragraphs, we learn that a girl has been murdered. Or at least that's what you'd learn if you managed to endure the first two pages. Why not start by saying a girl was murdered right from the get-go? I don't know; go ask Robert. It's almost like the writer didn't want to tell us, but finally relented after intense pressure from his editor. Maybe he was threatened with a lawsuit if he didn't get to the point.

First verifiable character to say something?

"Where's the bloody ambulance?"

Yep. That's how cops talk when they're standing over the bloodied dead body of a poor, innocent murder victim. Though, can we say anyone is ever truly innocent these days?

The only good thing about the prologue is it's short. That's right, a good prologue is a short prologue.

Chapter One:

Though Robin Ellacott's twenty-five years of life had seen their moments of drama and incident, she had never before woken up in the certain knowledge that she would remember the coming day for as long as she lived.

So...will she remember the coming day or not? Does this mean she never has and may never or never has and may today? And what are these other moments of drama and incident? No, forget I asked. I hope we aren't going to get a ten-page back story dump explaining it all. Again, Mr. Writer is holding back, he's teasing us, or he just doesn't want to say what's up, and would rather draw it out, slowly, as if he's paid a 100 bucks a word and 200 bucks for each stunning example of punctuation.

Flipping through the next couple pages reveals massively huge, overweight paragraphs, all in danger of going into cardiac arrest. Never a good sign. Knowing that this was written by the notorious J. K. Rowling forced me to read on, the schmuck that I am, but by page 157, I stopped being a schmuck.

The only hook in this book is the name of the revealed author.

Verdict: Fail.

Rudy Globird

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