Book Review: The Calling: A John Luther Novel by Neil Cross

Luther, The Calling, Neil Cross, Idris Elba, book review, novelisation, mystery, thriller, British, police drama, suspense

All right, so I said I was going for some lighter reading this week. And one thing’s for sure, no one could ever accuse a Neil Cross book of being a light, fluffy read. In my defence, though, I actually read this last month as part of my Halloween spooky reads but I’m only just now putting up the review due to time constraints. And there’s only so much light reading a girl can do before she gets back to the heavy stuff…

But never mind that now. On to The Calling. 

When I found out Neil Cross, the creator and writer behind Luther, had written a prequel novel for the series, I wasted no time in downloading the book on my Kindle. I am a huge fan of Neil Cross and the way he wrote the Luther series. The series was so compelling and smart and terrifying right from the very first scene of the very first show of the first season, I could not wait to see exactly how Cross described scenes and characters on paper.

Fans of the show might remember that the series started off with Luther chasing a man through an industrial warehouse. As we soon find out, the man is a sex offender and when he finds himself dangling over a great height, Luther refuses to aid him unless he told where he had kept a little girl. The man gives up everything he knows and they save the girl, but Luther lets him fall anyway. We don’t find out much else about this case, but The Calling is the story of that investigation.

The Calling also gives us a little more background into the characters and the motives behind their actions on the show. We find out more about the strain between Luther and Zoe and just why she decided to leave him. Also, the book explains just how Luther’s best friend and colleague, Ian Reed, gets himself into the trouble that he finds himself toward the end of season one. It’s also nice to see the reappearance of Luther’s first boss, Rose Teller (does anyone else feel Saskia Reeves is Emma Thompson’s doppelgänger!?) and a couple of ‘cameo’ appearances by DCI Justin Ripley!

The Calling is as intense and tightly written as any of the episodes on the Luther series. Cross has a talent for drawing his audience in right from the very start and never letting them go. Each character is vividly drawn, with their own unique flaws and strengths. The crimes described are brutal and enough to make you want to seriously beef up your home security system at once while at the same time feeling nothing you ever do will never be enough to stop a psychopath like Henry. Nothing, that is, unless you manage to hire Luther as your bodyguard.

And yes, let’s talk about the man of the hour – Luther! I love this character made so awesome by Idris Elba. He’s so flawed and whip smart and crazy and, well, just so much fun to watch (or read about, as it were, in this case). Side note: during the series, whenever my partner and I watched Luther climb onto a chair or smash a window for the millionth time while his fellow officers looked on, bemused (you’d think they’d be used to it by now), we used to joke about how entertaining work would be if we had a colleague like Luther. If any character or scene is intense, Luther is about a million times more intense. You know there’s never a dull moment when ol’ Luther’s around.

The Luther seasons have been getting shorter and shorter (I think there’s only about four episodes in the last one), and with Idris Elba taking on more big Hollywood-type roles, it doesn’t look likely that we’re going to see many more future seasons, if any. Here’s hoping Neil Cross will instead come out with a series of Luther novels to whet our appetite!

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