The Cuckoo’s Calling audiobook: the difference between listening and reading

I am a sucker for the right voice: accent or not, it’s tenor and it’ volume – the right combination really does it for me, and this is probably why I am enjoying audiobooks right now. I also sound like a constipated elephant over the phone, so there’s a another reason voices fascinate me.

But, this is why I can’t make up my mind in regards to The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith AKA JK Rowling.

Bear with me – this is the story of Cormoran Strike and his investigation into the death of Lula Landry, a supermodel. He’s hired by her brother, John, who is the only person convinced that Lula was murdered. So begins Cormoran’s investigation into Lula’s life, her friends and her family. And all of those elements are deliciously twisted in their own way.

The investigation takes up all of the book, in essence, save for the last chapter where Cormoran makes his revelations of his investigation. Along the way, his own life and past, and that of his secretary, Robin are revealed bit by bit as well. The nature of the case — the victim is a supermodel, necessitates Cormoran venture into the world of celebrity and fashion, and listening to Cormoran try to navigate his way in this world — a bull delicately picking his way through a china shop — is fun.

But, as with any audiobook, narration matters. The narrator matters. And I have to admit, my attention began to wane at the narrator’s ever-steady monotone as Cormoran did another interview with his suspects. It made me wonder what the difference would be if I had read this instead – would the steady steps of his investigation be as hard to get through as listening to it? I’d be curious to know what people think about that.

It’s a elegantly written book, with a carefully chosen adult vocabulary to go with it. Having read every one of her Harry Potter books, it’s these differences that spring out to me.

Cormoran and Robin are quite the entertaining pair, and it made for one slight negative in this one – I wish they’d settled into a friendship earlier than they did, because these two characters are a study in contrasts and work well off each other as a result. I love that Robin wants to be a PI, that she likes working for him because it’s something she always wanted to be part of. She’s a Nancy Drew in the making, and I desperately hope she has more of a presence in the next books.

Cormoran, I don’t know what to make of yet. He’s a war vet, with a complicated personal life – with his immediate family and his personal relationships – but he also still feels the same as many of the sleuths in this genre. Perhaps it’s first book-itis? I don’t know yet.

Overall: it’s a deliciously twisty story that might be perhaps better read than listened.


  • I totally related to this post! What funny timing with my post about audiobooks going up last night. I will make a note that this book might be better read than listened too 😀

    • Verushka says:

      I know, the timing was good wasn’t it? I find with audiobooks narrators make or break the book for me. Robert Glenister, the narrator here, was good in the beginning but ultimately, by the end he wasn’t doing it for me. Have you ever tried GraphicAudio?

  • Elizabeth says:

    I am not an audiobook person, although I think I’m going to try the 2 free on Audible they’re offering right now. This is one of the reasons. In my head I hear the accents and tones and then a monotone narrator can ruin it. I might pay more attention to audio reviews when the blogger writes about the narration itself and choose my audibles that way.
    Thanks for visiting me!

    • Verushka says:

      The more I listened to audiobooks, the more I realised how much of a difference the narration makes — and I felt kind of weird finding a person’s voice lessening the enjoyment of something I guess. But, like you I do pay attention to the narration review now.

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