I know, I know, I KNOW. My once-beloved J.K. Rowling, writing here under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith, has fallen off the deep end, writing some despicable things about transgender people. Sigh. Does it make it better that I didn’t buy this, just borrowed it from the library? I’m still not sure, and I’m not sure about where the line is between art/the artist, especially with a book like this one where a cross-dressing villain is featured… Because I don’t have any great answers, or new ways to contribute to this conversation, that’s not really what this review is about. What it is about is that despite all this I still really enjoy the Cormoran Strike series, including this one.
This is the 5th novel in the Strike series, and each one seems to be getting longer- this one clocked in at over 900 pages!! (Too long- although I like ample space for character development, and I love the relationship between Robin and Strike, including the romantic tension, 900+ pages is more than ‘ample’). Length aside, the mystery Robin and Strike dig into here is a cold case from the 1970s, where a bright, attractive young doctor disappears after leaving her medical practice for the day, never to return home to her husband and daughter. As you would expect in a novel this length, there are suspects aplenty, including her jealous husband, work colleagues with drug problems and a cross-dressing serial killer who likes to toy with the emotions of grieving families from his jail cell. I won’t spoil the mystery, but I will say that I hadn’t put all the pieces together before the big reveal, although in hindsight there were clues along the way.
On to the best parts of this series: the characters and relationships! In each book we learn more about Strike’s troubled upbringing, and in this book we say goodbye to his aunt, the woman who stepped in to raise him when his mother was such a flake; we also see more development regarding his rock star birth father and half siblings on that side. Likewise, we get more storyline on Robin, who is my favorite character, including her evolving understanding of her now-finished marriage to Matthew (The Jerk). There is still some ‘will-they/won’t-they’ romantic relationship development, but it almost feels like Galbraith pulled back on that aspect here, as the two characters spend so much time in physically different locations- for a good chunk of the novel Robin is left in London on her own while Strike spends time with his dying aunt in Cornwall. The advantage of the separation is that Robin gets a chance to flex some detective muscle, growing into her own as a full partner.
Did I like it? Yes. Did I love it? That’s a little strong (I have other detective series I love more- Tony Hillerman, Louise Penny). Will I read the next one? Probably (I’m committed now and I love the Robin character), but I’ll be borrowing it not buying it (not sure if that actually makes me less culpable?…)
Counting this one as the ‘Series’ square for cbr14bingo