An old case to investigate with some contemporary distractions

Troubled Blood is the fifth of the Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith AKA JK Rowling. There is a sixth one out now and a seventh one is scheduled for later this year. I’ve read them all so far and bought this one when it came out in paperback but it lingered on my to-be-read pile for quite a long time, mainly because I had so many other books to get to.

Cormoron Strike is a private detective in London who is ex-military, has a prosthetic leg and is the estranged son of a major rock star. His ex-secretary Robin is now a detective partner and they investigate crimes together. Robin has recently separated from her newlywed husband. There is an air of sexual tension in all their interactions but not one that the characters ever acknowledge. In this novel the agency has grown and there are a number of other detectives whose cases we get to hear about in passing. Strike’s aunt, who he regards as a surrogate parent, is dying and he spends quite a lot of time in Cornwall while Robin has to take over quite a lot of management of the agency. Strike’s extended family also spend quite a lot of the book trying to engage with him which he resists.

The main case in this story is the investigation into the disappearance of a young mother over forty years ago. The police officer who originally worked the case developed severe mental health problems and eventually died. The paperwork shows that the case was not correctly investigated but Strike manages to get hold of his notebook in which he has placed heavily coded references to the case, the people involved in it and to the occult. Using the notebook as guidance Strike and Robin proceed to interview people and dig up the past which even involves seeing a convicted serial killer in prison.

There many characters in this book and the pages of the notebook are reproduced as illustrations so there are lots of threads to keep hold of in the investigation and also in the work of the agency and the private lives of the main characters. I found it easy enough to follow what was going on and didn’t let all the detail deter me. This is, however, a long, long book and I wonder if the author could have omitted some of the detail and made it sharper and shorter. I also thought that had I read this book on a Kindle I would have been unable to read the pages of the notebook, although you really didn’t need to study them in detail to understand what was going on. The author also choses to preface each chapter with a quotation from Spenser’s Faerie Queen for no reason that I could fathom.

I did enjoy this book but I found its length intimidating and that probably explains why it lingered on my to-be-read pile for so long. I think it might have been a better book for being shorter but as this series sells extremely well I may be wrong about that. I do wish that the author would push the Robin/Strike relationship forward and resolve some of the issues between Strike and his father/half-siblings as both these themes have been rumbling along for several books. I would start the series at the beginning if you are new to these books.

4 thoughts on “An old case to investigate with some contemporary distractions

  1. I enjoyed this one and didn’t mind the length however I thought that the next one really needed cutting down. I do love the series and the characters though.


  2. I haven’t read the books, although I enjoyed the TV adaptations. I don’t know if I’ll get around to reading them, especially if she’s ignoring her editor’s advice, which will have been to cut some bits out.


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