I felt pretty fancy the day I snagged the last copy of Cuckoo’s Calling off the shelf at Barnes & Noble. The news had just broken about JK Rowling writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and I happened to be reading all about it as I walked through the doors—straight back to the Mystery New Release section—and snapped it up before anyone else could.
That smug feeling of being in an exclusive group swelled as the online market price doubled over the course of the day. Demand had exploded far beyond what the publisher had planned for with this unknown first-time-author. I overheard several customers asking for a copy and being put on an indefinite waiting list. “Losers,” I chuckled to myself.
As the evening sunlight cast slanting shadows through my sparsely furnished living room, I carefully set aside the dust cover to preserve this obviously valuable future collectible, and gently opened the first page.
Less than a paragraph in, I began to have a nagging suspicion that something wasn’t what it appeared to be. There was something between the lines, something unsaid. The scene started to unfold: A famous supermodel had plunged to her death in an apparent suicide, an optimistic blonde at the crossroads of her life walked blithely into the unknown, and a lumbering private detective named Cormoran Strike is offered a brittle chance to pull his way up from rock bottom.
The itching in my brain became more persistent, but I pushed on, filing the disquiet behind my other feelings: tired and hungry.
Gradually the characters came into focus; perceptions and motivations crisscrossing like warp and weft. The social elite and the squalid, fashionistas and prostitutes; ultimately all were bound together. As the broader tapestry emerged from what had been a tangle of names and questions, the truth of it all stared me right in the face. The trouble was, I had no hard evidence.
There was only one way to be sure—to anticipate the twists and turns as I rushed forward to the end, trying desperately to reach the conclusion early enough that I could expose the truth before it could consume me.
Just as deftly as the story had been woven, so it was unravelled at the end. While no alibi could hold water and no suspect could be dismissed, the personal stories became complete and fell to the sides one after the other. With each turn of the page, it appeared that my long-harbored theory would be unavoidably vindicated, and I steeled my resolve with a triumphant final push in the wee hours of the morning.
And there it was at last, the ultimate twist, the hard and final fact. My heart sank. At no point in this entire book would it turn out anyone was Harry Potter. Oh shit. I meant to say, SPOILER ALERT: at no point in this entire book would it turn out anyone was Harry Potter. It would probably never be a crazy-valuable collectible that I could covet and save and someday retire on. Within a couple of weeks there were a hundred copies identical to mine stacked up at the bookstore, discounted 30-40% with the other bestsellers.
Good book though, didn’t guess the killer.