Thursday, November 18, 2021

Robert Galbraith - Troubled Blood

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough – who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.
Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.
As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .

Comment: This is the latest installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. The book was published last year but I waited for the paperback edition and only now finally got to it. What a ride!

In this book, the main characters are still dealing with the challenges in their personal lives but the detective agency is going very well, so much that Strike and Robin have gotten the help of three investigators. Most cases are pretty predictable but they are part of the job and some even provide interesting situations. However, the main case Strike and Robin investigate in this story is the disappearance of Margot Bamborough in the 1970s for her now adult daughter wants to try to know what happened and gives the agency one year to investigate. The police at the time suspected a serial killer of having abducted her, he is in prison for other murders but is he actually guilty of Margot's death or was he just a convenient player? Strike and Robin go back to basics in this investigation and when the clues are finally put together, who knows what truth come out...

This is a big book, no doubt. My edition has a little more than 1000 pages but, sadly for me, I was also busy with other things so it took me longer to read this, otherwise it probably wouldn't have taken that long... I was enthralled by this plot. I think the author did a wonderful job.

The book is big, yes, and focused on the investigation of Margot's disappearance. But as expected, there's also a lot of time dedicated to Strike and Robin's thoughts, personal lives and dealings with secondary characters. This takes a lot of pages, takes a long time, is incredibly descriptive and long and I can understand why many readers find this annoying, boring, tiring, repetitive, everything is debated to the maximum and their relationship barely advances. While I, too, would love to see them reach common emotional ground sooner, I'm not bothered because, for me, the overall reading experience was outstanding.

It's true the setting up of Robin and Strike's personalities have already happened in a very solid manner: readers by now already understand they are complex and that they will, eventually, be together, but the road is taking a long time. There were moments I wish the author had stressed out this more, so that the scene where they finally admit their feelings comes quicker but...on second thought, I don't mind it because spending time with the characters, following them as they go on their routines, on their work, on their interactions just captivates me and I don't mind all the time this is taking. It's like spending time with friends, people you want to see find true happiness.

As for the case, I won't go into it because I don't want to ruin anyone's possibility of reading this story without spoilers, but I had no idea this would go the way it did - to be fair I'm not a very good guesser of who's done it and such in mysteries - and when the solution came up, when the case seemed to be finally solved, I was amazed at how on earth was it possible that the explanation was that. Of course, by then, all the clues we've spend so many pages on, thinking, connecting, deducting, all feel into place but I would never think it would be like that.

Of course, by then, all clues and hints made sense, as if the solution was in front of us all the time, just like in books from the masters such as Agatha Christie, but something lacked for us to connect the dots. I thought to myself, the amount of planning the author had to do, the work it took to plan and to write down stuff so that everything would make sense in the end... plus with the secondary things, the fact this is a huge book, all could be messy and badly executed but, in my opinion, all worked out very well.

Well, perhaps there are some things that could be improved, some details which could be removed, scenes that don't really mater much in the big scheme...some pacing here and there could have been adjusted... but I was having such a great time reading that those things didn't bother me. The positive aspects, to me, more than compensated for the things I'd change. For me this was a success and now it feels depressing to think it might take a long time for another story to be published...
Grade: 9/10

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