The third installment of the Comoran Strike series begins with yet another gory mystery. Someone delivers a woman’s severed leg to Robin. While she’s sickened by this (you know, like people are wont to do when they receive body parts in the mail), Strike is less grossed out and more concerned that someone from his past is sending a very clear message that Robin’s life is in danger. While the police are focusing their investigation on one of the four people Comoran believes it could be, Robin and he focus their attention on the others utilizing their intellect, intuition and each other (at times) to figure out who is threatening Robin’s life and Strike’s livelihood. Strike and Robin continue to get more and more in sync as partners–sharing dark parts of their pasts and gaining further understanding of one another and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Both guarded people, that guard seems to be slipping away when together.
Coincidentally, at the same time, Strike is finding his light relationship with beautiful and wealthy Elin, less and less appealing. Often he (unfairly) compares her to Robin and finds her lacking. That paired with the idea that things could be moving towards the next level between he and Elin, leaves Strike with some things he needs to decide. He’s not the only one. Matthew discloses a secret from when he and Robin were in college. With only a month or so until the wedding, Robin has to decide if she wants to go through with it. Could this be the “excuse” that she’s looking for so that she doesn’t have to marry Matthew?
Meanwhile, the closeness that Robin and Strike have been developing complicates their working relationship. Robin wants nothing more than to be his partner and to be treated without kid gloves. So tired of constantly defending her career choice to her family and her fiance she desperately needs Strike to see her as an equal as well as an asset to their partnership. Strike sees that Robin is in the metaphorical cross hairs of a brutal mutilating killer and so he does the exact opposite of what she wants. He treats her like she can’t handle herself, he says awful things that he doesn’t mean and ultimately pushes them so far apart that it’s almost hard to determine if they can come back from it. When they aren’t working together they are both vulnerable and sloppy…leaving death a very real possibility for both of them as they slip up individually and overlook obvious clues.
You guys, I have a major problem. I am fully and deeply committed to Robin and Strike as characters. They are my favorite people ever. I found myself smiling through much of their interactions, cheering the possibility of Robin leaving Matthew (he’s like the Piz of this series) and Strike leaving Elin and maybe, just maybe they would get together. I don’t care if it wouldn’t work out between the two of them…I just NEED them together. As far as a mystery goes, I think this one fires on all levels of suspense. I will say that I figured out the “whodunit” which I normally am not able to do. Apparently I read book 2 of this series at the same time last year so that means that I probably have yet another year to wait for Rowling to churn out another one for me. Sigh. What am I going to do? The book ends with some major drama that makes it impossible for me not to be in complete excitement for the next book…whenever it comes out. I hope she never stops writing these novels because they are a highlight of my reading every time they come out.