I started reading this series during the early days of the pandemic, and it’s proven to be satisfying, escapist fun for me. I stumbled upon this latest entry in one of my local Little Free Libraries, so I decided to read it before CBR BINGO hits, because at 927 pages, there’s no way I was going to let it eat up prime BINGO scoring time.
That said, I’m going to write this review in list form of likes and dislikes.
- Dislikes: 927 pages. There is such a thing as too much, and I suspect Galbraith/Rowling has fallen into her old ways of not listening to her editor. There’s a place for a book that can squash a spider (I don’t condone killing spiders) but a hard-boiled detective novel probably isn’t it. I kind of felt the same as I did after reading the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Calm down and go back through it one more time with a red pen. You’re not writing Les Misérables.
- Likes: The Strike/Robin relationship intensifies, and I’ll admit I’m a sucker for that. In the first novel, I was skeptical and didn’t think a romantic angle was necessary, but once I accepted it I was all in. We may have even seen the last of Matthew, and in a way that is emotionally satisfying (i.e., not vindictive). I don’t know how much longer this series can keep up the slow burn, though.
- Dislikes: When did Robin’s mother and Strike’s sister get to be so annoying?
- Likes: More of Strike’s personal background in the form of his aunt and uncle, as well as other friends from Cornwall. These are wonderful, sympathetic characters whom we get to know better. We get a bit more of Strike’s father and half-brother also, and I’m hoping they both go the way of Matthew (not that his brother is a bad person, I’ve just had enough of him).
- Mixed feelings: There is A LOT going on in this novel. The mystery is complicated and involves aspects of astrology, which I largely skimmed over, likely causing me to miss important clues. Many, many suspects appear, and I felt like I should have been taking notes in order to keep them all straight. There are copious red herrings, which is great, although not all of them tie up neatly into a “oh, that’s what that was about” revelation. Some loose ends just dangle, which is more realistic than most detective stories I’ve read, but not what I’m used to.
Overall, this is a satisfying mystery which could have benefited from a tighter edit. The relationships between characters are given as much ink as the mystery, which I think fans of the series have come to expect. As I said in my review of The Cuckoo’s Calling, the author, makes me, “so invested in the characters that she could throw any sort of nonsense at the mystery and as long as the characters were being human, flawed, immensely likable, and slightly vulnerable, I’d eat it up.” With this installment, that continues to be the case.