All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

on November 21, 2018

Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4)
Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
Sphere
2018, 649p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

“I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott-once his assistant, now a partner in the agency-set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been-Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

I’ve only read the first Harry Potter book so really my experience with JK Rowling, who writes this adult crime/mystery series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is purely the result of these Cormoran Strike books. I read the first one when it was published but only read books 2&3 this year, before I watched the BBC adaptation, Strike. That turned out to be a good decision because the wait for book 4 after the ending of 3 would’ve been torturous.

We get a brief description of what happened after the end of Career Of Evil and then we skip forward in time 12 months. Cormoran and Robin are partners in the agency now and Cormoran’s publicity from solving the Shacklewell Ripper case has led to a steady supply of work, so much so that Cormoran has had to hire a few more people to cover it. The resulting publicity does also mean that he’s quite recognisable now, which can be a hindrance to being out undercover so when Jasper Chiswell, the Minister for Culture expresses an interest in hiring the agency about someone blackmailing him, it’s Robin that is sent in undercover to work in Chiswell’s office. Robin can be smoothly unobtrusive, it’s far easier to disguise and change her appearance and she has people skills. It’s an added bonus that this case seems to cross over with the troubled man named Billy who confessed to Cormoran that he witnessed a murder as a child, but fled before Cormoran could get any details out of him. With Robin on Chiswell, Cormoran works on tracking down Billy, fearing for his safety and wellbeing, as well as wanting the rest of his story.

I love this series. The first three were all really solid reads for me but this one for some reason, is my favourite so far. I think it’s the combination of a really, really intricate mystery with a cast of many and the simmering tension between Cormoran and Robin as they attempt to negotiate this working relationship after what happened at the wedding. They almost fall over each other in an attempt not to step on each other’s toes, ask personal questions or perhaps cross an invisible line unwittingly which would change everything. Despite this avoidance of a million and one things, their thoughts are constantly tied to the other  and Robin’s paranoia that her job may vanish at any second if she even so much breathes a word of an inner struggle to Strike strongly motivates her choices to keep everything locked up inside and her personal life just adds to her stress and state of mind.

There’s no denying this book is long. It’s about 650p in large paperback form. It begins with a visit to Strike’s office from a young, mentally disturbed man named Billy who claims to have witnessed a murder as a child but then we don’t see Billy again for probably another 500p as it sinks into the investigation for Jasper Chiswell and his complicated, moneyed family, which is connected to Billy’s family (definitely not moneyed). Quite often large books annoy me because I can see huge chunks of irrelevancy that the editing process should’ve cut through but I honestly never once had that thought with this book. It took me a couple of days to read it and each time I had to put it down, I could not wait to be able to sit down and pick it back up again. There’s so much going on, in both Robin and Strike’s personal and professional lives. Some of it is signposted so well for the reader but it takes the characters longer to put the clues together.

Everything about this worked for me. It’s long, sure but it keeps busy, uncovering small clues that honestly, just ask more questions for a while and then something happens which changes the entire focus of the investigation and everyone has a role to play, no matter how minor a character they seem when first introduced. I actually felt like that Galbraith/Rowling did an amazing job planting some of the clues here to lead the reader in the right direction about several things but ultimately the way that Strike connects the dots is a thing of beauty, about everything. I liked that Robin sort of didn’t really know where he was going with everything and how he’d done it because although she’s got great instincts, she’s still learning and Strike is kind of a tactical wizard so far and it just felt more real instead of Robin looking at the clues Strike gave her and going oh yes, I see exactly what’s going on here.

This book leaves things in a very interesting place, where I’m not sure they’ve been before. I’m really looking forward to the next book, for both the mysteries that Cormoran and Robin investigate together and also their growing personal relationship. I think they established a more intimate connection here (and I don’t mean physically) and I’m keen to see where that goes. I hope it’s not another 3year wait for the next book and that they hurry up turning this one into new eps of the tv show.

9/10

Book #192 of 2018

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