Having been (who am I kidding? I still am) a devoted fan of the Harry Potter series, I jumped at the chance to read J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy. Yet I was largely disappointed and unengaged during my many attempts to appreciate it. When I heard, however, that she had written a new novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, I jumped at the opportunity to give her a chance to redeem herself. Luckily J.K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith did not disappoint, despite the lackluster title.
The novel revolves around the sudden death of young model and starlet Lula Landry, fondly known as Cuckoo by her close friends. Deemed a suicide, Lula’s death gains much unwanted public attention and speculation, including conspiracy theories that her death may have been a calculated murder. In the wake of these rumors, a private investigator and ex-military policeman named Cormoran Strike is hired by Landry’s brother to examine the case of the starlet’s fatal fall.
Strike is plunged into the lives of the rich and famous, carefully examining their secrets and fallacies as he dives into his investigation. Before long, Strike too begins to believe in the conspiracy and is hard at work to prove himself a successful investigator with his only case and his failing business in hand.
The novel is deftly written and its characters ring true, with London described in startlingly visceral details as the backdrop. Strike, in particular, is immensely compelling (and surprisingly so!). It’s difficult to say what moves the story forward—the haunting presence of Lula Landry or Strike’s compelling past. Without a doubt, the two stories are woven such that they illuminate one another, bringing forth subtle details and startling truths about the other.
As Strike surveys the many suspects—a boyfriend, a rapper, a neighbor—who might have wished Lula dead, the novel races to its finish and the truth materializes in a series of unexpected and satisfying revelations.
Despite the shadow of death that looms over each page, the novel is poignantly funny and absorbing. While reading, it was almost hard to remember that Galbraith is, in fact, Rowling. The book is certainly stylistically similar to her previous work, but in every other way, Rowling has officially left the world of children’s fantasy behind for the engaging world of crime. It seems that Rowling is on the brink of a new series, one that will undoubtedly be as enticing as Harry Potter to her avid fans, and will, of course, bring forth many new ones.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is full of rich and decadent writing, not to mention the characters. This decadent fudge ice cream is as dangerous as a murderer to a blossoming starlet (and her figure). Practically frozen custard, you won’t be able to resist this dark beauty.
DECADENT FUDGE ICE CREAMi
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 8oz bittersweet chocolate, shredded or finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons espresso (I just made concentrated coffee)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A pinch of sea salt
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
Put the sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and stir them together until they’re thoroughly combined. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and allow it to boil. Be careful! Mine frothed over and made a mess!
Take the saucepan off the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso, vanilla extract and salt. Keep mixing it until the chocolate melts and the cocoa powder is completely dissolved. I sifted the cocoa powder to prevent any lumps!
Mix the two teaspoons of cornstarch and cold water in a bowl with a fork until
it’s completely dissolved. It’s helpful to have someone mixing while you add the cornstarch to the water, so it doesn’t get clumpy. Add the cornstarch mix to the saucepan and mix thoroughly.
Place the pan over medium-high heat (mixing and scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan to prevent burning) until the mixture is thick. It should take about 5-8 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl (I used a Pyrex container, so I could just stick in the freezer once it cooled) and set aside, uncovered, to cool for half an hour. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, mix it a little and then cover it with plastic wrap, so that it touches the surface, creating an airtight seal. Chill it thoroughly in the freezer until you can scoop it out like ice cream.