It’s only a few days since I finished — just over a week since the year-long wait was over — and it seems like ages. Now we’re back into another wait — hopefully not more than a year — till we find out what’s next for Strike and Robin.
Here, Robin has to go undercover to investigate a cult. By which I mean, she has to sign up as if she were a believer, and go deep, deep undercover. It gets very tense.
Minor spoilers follow.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the previous one or two, I think. Certainly at first I was a bit disappointed because of the time-jump. We’re eight months after the end of The Ink Black Heart, when I had expected it to continue straight on, the way Troubled Blood flowed right into IBH.
But I think the main problem was that the two main characters are separated for much of it, precisely because she’s undercover, so can’t really communicate with him.
Of course, once it all kicked into gear, the pages kept turning like they always do. But, while it was great to see them bring down an appalling cult, it just wasn’t as emotionally resonant for me as, especially, the previous two.
And so I circle back and reread the book I read just over a month ago.
This has been a most enjoyable experience, reading through the whole series. Rereading this one so soon was an excellent opportunity to see if I could spot any clues that I missed the first time (certainly one or two).
The apparent logical jumps the characters make at the climax made more sense this time, so that was good.
Excellent stuff. I look forward to the next one.
For some reason this is the one whose title never sticks in my mind. When I try to think of the books in the series I always seem to have a hard time bringing this one to mind.
Which is by no means because of the story, which is excellent. Strike and Robin take on a cold case, 40 years old. When I wrote about this before I said I thought there was too much time spent on the other cases. That didn’t seem so this time.
Also back then, I was recovering from being sick. This time I was just starting to be. And indeed, I was reading a section where Strike gets flu and tries desperately to convince himself that he can’t be getting it; to no avail, of course. I was reading that and thinking, ‘Yes, I’m definitely getting it.’ And not flu.
The rereading continues. It’s actually now a couple of weeks since I read this, this time. what with forgetting, and then coming down with Covid, and what have you.
Politics is the background for this one, with Robin going undercover at the House of Commons to try to find out who’s blackmailing a government minister — or rather, why? The blackmailers are known, but nobody outside of the minister’s family knows what it is they have on him.
All good stuff, as ever. I had totally forgotten who was behind it all (where ‘it’ is the murder that follows the blackmail), which just goes to show you can easily enjoy a whodunit a second time.
This is, by far, the most gruesome book in the Strike series. The crimes, the killings are, that is to say.
It also gives Robin the most action she’s had, as well as the most danger.
And I still, since reading it seven years ago, haven’t investigated Blue Öyster Cult. Oh well.
So we move into a(nother) period of rereading. Reading the new Strike novel immediately made me want to go back to the start. Mainly, I think, because I wanted to stay with these characters. As I type I’ve just finished the second in the series.
The characters, though, are very different back here. Well, Strike not so much. Robin is new-minted, still unformed, and doesn’t get nearly as much pagetime as she deservedly does in later books.
Good stuff, this tale of a famous model who dies in a fall from a balcony. The police have written it off as suicide, but Strike, when asked to investigate, has other ideas.
Keeping the whodunit alive, I had completely forgotten who actually was the guilty party. Or rather, I remembered it as being someone other than it was. So I was surprised by it, which you don’t really expect on a rereading.
This may be the best so far of the Strike books. My favourite so far, anyway.
Despite being set in 2015 (time flows differently in Galbraith world) it’s very much of now. People being bullied online, right-wing terrorist organisations. Crossrail still being built. Oh wait, they finished that. If the novels ever catch up with reality, Cormoran and Robin won’t have to pick their way past roadworks around Denmark Street.
And The Tottenham pub won’t be there any more. What will Strike do then? Well, OK, he’ll just complain about it being renamed The Flying Horse, I imagine. I think I was in The Tottenham once, years and years ago, and didn’t think too much of it. But who knows.
Anyway, the book! Yes, it is excellent. I loved it. The only thing I didn’t like was the sheer physical size. It’s over 1000 pages, and when it’s not breaking your wrists, it feels like it’s breaking its own spine.
The titular Ink-Black Heart (it should, of course, be hyphenated, as an adjectival phrase) is a cartoon series, initially on YouTube, moved to Netflix. Having read the description, I really want to see it.
It spawns a fan-created game, and therein lies the problem. Fans, you know? They can be troublesome types. Even dangerous.
Parts of the book are presented as in-game chat threads, with up to three streams running in parallel down the pages. It could get very confusing. It doesn’t, it’s fine.