When I read The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling (under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), I was shook. Not only was I completely sold on the idea that the author of my favorite book series wrote a book under a different name, but the storyline and main characters were fascinating. In a sea of books featuring missing girls, housewives-turned-sleuths and macho man-tectives, the Cormoran Strike series was an island of reprieve.
C.B. Strike, which premiered last summer on the BBC and stateside this June on Cinemax, maintains the heart and spirit that makes the book series so tantalizing. The series spans the first three books of the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil across seven episodes.
In “The Cuckoo’s Calling: Part 1” (of three), superstar Lula Landry is found dead of apparent suicide-by-jumping outside of her sleek, third-floor apartment in London. The super chic, a-list model’s passing creates a media frenzy and exposes a cast of suspects you can’t — and don’t want to — root for (more on that in a bit). It’s the perfect backdrop for a modern take on a traditional mystery.
The first meeting of the series’ unlikely duo, detective Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and his new temp Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger), sets the subtly humorous tone and chemistry these two have with a cringe-worthy run-in (literally). The biggest thing I was worried about when I heard the book series was being turned into a television show was the relationship between Strike and Robin translating on screen. Yes, the mysteries are well done and keep you guessing until the final reveal, but the back and forth these two have helps ground the novels into reality.
Though in the peripheral of Strike and Robin at first, Lula’s death comes into focus when her adopted brother, John Bristow, visits the detective and pleads for him to investigate the death (not suicide) of his sister. Strike, who knows John via his late brother, Charlie (who was childhood friends with Strike), sees this as an opportunity to make some money and agrees to investigate. Personally, I think Bristow gives off some creepy vibes (Norman Bates, is that you?).
As the investigation begins, we learn a little more about each of the suspects. From Lula’s boyfriend-slash-rockstar, model best friend (with a slight hint of jealousy) to the fashion designer who called her his muse, a rapper obsessed with meeting her, a friend from her troubled past in rehab and even her adopted brother, it’s up to Strike and Robin to sort through the clues and see what really happened to Lula Landry.
Throughout their hunt, it’s Strike’s eye for the out of place and Robin’s ability to connect a web of facts that makes watching them such a treat. True to British form, the series provides answers through camera shots, subtly and a little faith on the viewer picking up on what’s going on, compared to the mysteries on primetime television spoon-feeding answers. The whip-smart dialogue, sometimes completely lifted from the book, kept me engaged and caring at every turn.
After getting too close to some answers with Rochelle, the aforementioned friend from rehab that appeared to be leaching off Lula’s success (and cash flow), the episode ends on a cliffhanger, in true murder mystery fashion.
As a first outing, I think the series stands to show the complex web Rowling’s created and make me fall in love with Strike and Robin all over again.