Initially thrilled by the sheer heft of the latest Cormoran Strike novel, which promised to be a bumper read, I was quickly disillusioned.
It was long and repetitive and – oh gosh, dare I say it? – quite tedious.
So much extraneous detail.
So much background that we didn’t really need.
I throughly enjoyed the earlier books in this series – here’s my review of the first book in the series, which I read sitting in a tent at 5500 metres. As one does.
But despite the initial pleasure in reconnecting with Cormoran Strike and his smart, eminently likeable assistant Robin Ellacott, the plot was, sad to say, too slow, too long, and full of too many extraneous characters.
To my shame I kept forgetting who people were, and had to keep flipping back to remember how they fitted into the convoluted narrative.
Cormoran accepts the job of trying to find out who murdered a young woman GP 40 years ago. The case is cold, and he is wary of such jobs, but her daughter is desperate for some form of closure.
The investigation involves increasingly weird and occult lines of investigation, involving star signs and tarot cards.
I skipped a lot of those long passages, I must admit. Also didn’t bother to try and fathom the diagrams from the notebook of a former investigating officer, in which he annotates zodiac signs.
What boggled my mind is that the people whom Cormoran and Robin interview have such amazing recall of what they were doing 40 years ago. What time they locked up the surgery, what route they walked home – that kind of recall. That alone was enough to plunge me into deep intellectual anguish, because there is no way I can recall with total clarity the minutiae of events that happened 40 years ago.
That realisation alone was enough to make me feel distanced from the book – if that makes any sense. It made the whole investigation seem less credible.
Ms Rowling (for she is Robert Galbraith, by the way) came in for a lot of flak this summer for her anti-trans stand, both in real life and in the book, but that angle didn’t bother me. I am not offended by Ms Rowling’s sexual politics and I found her portrayal of women sympathetic and revealing. For example, the fact that the murdered doctor had been a Bunny Girl in her teens, trying to earn as much money as she could to support her family and her studies, is told to us sympathetically.
Women are at the receiving end of horrific violence in this book, which Ms Rowling tackles head on, for which I admire her enormously.
But it doesn’t make me like this book any more.
I’ve loved the relationship between Cormoran and Robin from the very first book, but by the end of this book, I was pretty indifferent. It’s just the same old same old, and all at (too great) length.
“Troubled Blood” was a bit of a turgid read, to be honest. Hugely disappointing, but there you are.
But hey! You don’t have to take my word for it – so if you do want to read it, here you go: