This second book by J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith brings us back to the world of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. After solving the case of Lula Landry in the previous book, Strike is somewhat more well known now. He’s had steady work, moved out of his office into a cramped apartment (a small step, but moving on nonetheless). A new case has just opened up for him, involving missing author Owen Quine. His wife is convinced that Quine is just off on a jaunt somewhere as he has a history of that but she needs him home to help with their daughter. Quine is a rather eccentric author, his books are kind of unusual and gory. His latest manuscript is a tell all of the publishing world and he plans to skewer publishers, agents and authors equally.
Strike sets out to find Quine, and after much searching and questions, the man eventually turns up dead. And dead in a most gruesome and nasty way. I watch Criminal Minds and this would rival some of the stuff on there. And so the investigation begins to hunt down the killer. There’s the usual suspects once again, and many more interviews ensue.
As the case bumps along, Robin has to deal with some personal issues – her fiance really doesn’t like her working with Strike and continues to be a douche about it. Robin finds that she really enjoys learning about the cases, rather than just being a secretary. Still for the most part, she seems to exist mainly to provide support to Strike in menial tasks – she does the odd detecting sidekick job, but they are few and far between.
Strike also has personal demons to deal with – his ex-fiancee is set to marry the man she dumped years ago in favor of Strike. Now she’s on the cover of a magazine, her life seemingly a romantic fairytale, and it’s killing Strike to read about it. He keeps thinking she will magically appear, begging him to come back, but of course that isn’t happening. On top of that, his prosthetic leg is giving him a lot of problems, so he has to deal with the physical pain daily on top of his emotional pain. He truly is a tortured soul.
I was hoping to like this book better than the first one in the series, and yet I just found my attention wandering as I was reading. At the halfway point, I was like…there’s how much more left?!?
I ended up skimming through to the last part, where Strike makes the big reveal. As with the first book, Strike has made all of his observations and deduced the villain without any glimmer of information being passed along to the reader. Oh, I know we’ve been told the clues in the countless conversations but since most of the book is through Strike’s perception, we don’t get to see the villain’s mindset. (I was half expecting it to turn out all the suspects joined forces to knock Quine off together, since they all seemed to hate him equally!) The book might as well be told in first person narrative. We do get the odd viewpoint from Robin, but more “showing, not telling” would be useful. Just my two cents worth.
At any rate, I hope there is no plan to have Strike and Robin move into a romantic pairing – I would rather see them continue as professional partners, much like Sherlock and Joan Watson on Elementary. I might wait awhile before picking up the next book in the series and see if I feel like carrying on with it. (Thanks for the suggestion about the audio books, faintingviolet, but that’s not feasible for me.)