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Cuckoos Don’t Curse – or do they?


The Cuckoo’s Calling
Robert Galbraith.

I don’t know what’s inside a Harry Potter book. I’ve never read one of them, and on the advice of others, better equipped to discern these things, I discouraged others from reading them, on the basis that they might foster an interest in the occult in vulnerable children.

So, when I recently learned that the Harry Potter author, J K Rowling, had written a crime fiction novel, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ under the pseudonym ‘Robert Galbraith’ I was intrigued. Why would a successful author write a book, possibly the first in a series, and not use her own name? Why then did the true authorship of the book slip out into the press? Was it just a cynical publicity stunt? Certainly sales of the book have been huge.

Whatever the reason, I decided to read the book. It features a private detective, Comoran Strike and his temporary assistant Robyn, jointly investigating a ‘suicide’ which really was a murder. It has all the traditional, cliched stereotypes. The detective has a famous father whom he has spurned, been injured in action in the army, is down on his luck and penniless, is despised by the professionals in the police, who have got the initial investigation all wrong, and who resent his brilliant perception, analytical skills and expertise. It has a young female assistant who sees the romance of detective work and wants to work for Strike, even if that means turning down a better paid, but less adventurous job, which causes a conflict with her live-in ‘fiancé’ – a rather boring accountant. Eventually Strike proves that the police are wrong and in a long denouement he charges the murderer with the crime. The novel follows a well trodden path.

I don’t know what I expected from Rowling-Galbraith, for as I say, I haven’t read her previous work, but I have to say that any enjoyment of the novel was ruined; I was thoroughly shocked at the repeated, persistent, unnecessary use of vile expletives – right throughout the book. The storyline was adequate, the plot was reasonable (although hardly a page-turner), if a bit vague in parts, the characters were somewhat larger than life, but does Rowling-Galbraith really think that everyone speaks in sentences liberally peppered with foul language? What point is she trying to make? Is she trying to impress upon her readers that she is no longer a children’s author? That her books have ‘grown up?’ Is she trying to compensate for a second rate plot by shocking her readers? Personally, I deplore the gratuitous use of bad language.

Whatever the motive, I find it hard to believe that Rowling-Galbraith lives in a world, or in a circle of friends and family who speak with the coarseness of her characters in this novel. Perhaps before she puts pen to paper again, she might benefit from some research, – she ought to read some authors who can write an entire novel, without recourse to excessive swearing. May I suggest John Grisham for example?

Looking back, I’m glad now that I discouraged others from reading Rowley’s earlier novels. As I say, I don’t know what was written therein, but judging by The Cuckoo’s Calling, – I won’t be reconsidering that decision or recommending them.

James 5:12: But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

2 Samuel 16:5: When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually.

Colossians 4:6. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.




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