Book Review: Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

I’ve not read any of the previous Strike stories, although I’ve watched the TV series. I bought the book for my wife, but I picked it up as soon as she finished it.

The story follows private investigator Cormoran Strike and his business partner Robin Ellacott as Strike traverses tricky, emotional family events while trying to make headway with a bunch of knotty cases.

While at his adoptive parents’ home in Cornwall, Strike is approached by the daughter of a doctor who disappeared in London four decades earlier. This case provides the central thread that runs through the story. Who killed Margot Bamborough? Is she really dead?

We experience the story from both Strike and Robins’ points of view. Feeling with each of them the growing dependence on each other and internal monologues of doubt and misunderstanding on both sides.

The story held my attention right the way through. I never thought I would put it aside for another book. Yet, the tension and narrative aren’t flashy or explosive. Instead, we have a steady, but insightful doggedness that draws us from one chapter to the next, with enough twists, turns, revelations and resolutions to maintain interest.

The only criticism I have is that the book is too heavy to easily hold. I read mostly before sleep in the evenings, but this is NOT a book to slip into your case or bag ready to fill small gaps in the day. It’s a solid block that commands a coffee table or, in my case, a bedside table. Ideal, I guess, for a Nook or a Kindle. Just the sort of read these devices were built for.

At 920 odd pages this is a marathon, not a sprint. And this resulted in me forgetting sometimes who were the characters from Margot’s past that were being discussed. This, though, may also have had something to do with my short reading sessions at the end of the day.

The book is easy to read. We are swept into the world of two decent people who have a fierce drive to solve the cases given them. I loved many of the sentences that described some detail of action – clear, apposite, revealing. I love it when you read something that makes you smile because of its clarity and rightness. I wish I’d copied those sentences out when I came across them. I’m not going to sift through all those pages looking for them now!

I was kept guessing to the end. My wife repeatedly asked me, “Do you know who did it yet?” My answer was different every time. Although the end wasn’t a Hollywood-type blockbuster, world-shatteringly climactic I thought it fitted the story and was satisfying.

I will definitely look out for the next book. In the meantime, I’ll get cracking with exercises to strengthen my hand and arm muscles.

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