J.K. Rowling has released another mystery, Troubled Blood (Little Brown, $29.00), under her pen name, Robert Galbraith, starring two memorable characters, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. If you have not read any of the previous books, Strike is a private detective recently wounded and missing a leg from Afghanistan who in the first book opened his agency in London. Robin is a late-twenties, attractive college grad, coming off a bad marriage and a sexual assault while in school. She started as Strike’s temp receptionist in the first book and when she had a great idea, Strike hired her permanently. Now she is a full partner in the agency. Both characters, in their own way, are adorable though Strike has a very rough edge.
They get hired by a woman whose mother was a physician, disappearing forty years ago with absolutely no trace. The daughter wants one last crack at solving the mystery even though her father has remarried and has no interest in looking into the past. Strike has a connection with the Metropolitan police that allows him to get a copy of the original murder book and off our heroes go.
Immediately it’s clear that the original detective assigned to the case was going loopy. In retrospect he had a thyroid issue but his unhealthy interest in astrology led him to believe he could use the stars to find the killer. No suspect was every charged.
There are a host of characters and sometimes it’s difficult to keep them sorted. Rowling weaves in two other cases the agency is working at the same time. The reader will learn about a couple of sexual preferences that are quite bizarre and these back stories keep the pace lively. Our heroes’ plates are always full.
The major subplot is the relationship between Robin and Strike. Rowling continually nudges the characters closer together and inevitably Strike does something to push them apart, like forgetting Robin’s birthday and coming up with the most mundane of all Christmas presents – chocolate. Robin finally secures her divorce when her jerk ex-husband gets his mistress pregnant and he agrees to let Robin have her money back. Clearly Robin has feelings for Strike, but his old girlfriend, a rich socialite, keeps wandering into the picture, leaving Robin puzzled.
As in all good mysteries, the ending is a surprise, though some of the killer’s victims make only minor appearances in the book. Among the possible suspects, the killer is unfortunately not the nastiest person. The last paragraph of the 927-page book is a complete mystery and I spent more than two weeks reading it every night. Don’t start unless you’re ready for a long slog. But once you do, you’ll stay with it.
I give Troubled Blood an A- only because about two hundred pages could have been cut out.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. Steve is a 2017 NY Big Book Award winner and a 2018 Independent Book Awards recepient. You can purchase his books via https://steveclarkauthor.com/buy-the-book/ or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve at SteveClarkAuthor.com