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.
Reviewed on 11th October 2020
The fifth book in the Strike/Ellacott series was tainted by negative publicity at release, however I decided it was fair to give it a chance and confirm whether the media was trying to kick up a storm over nothing.
It’s a 900 page epic in which the detectives take on a cold case from forty-five years earlier, and over the course of a year (it feels a lot like a Harry Potter novel in that sense) try to solve the mystery while dealing with their own personal lives.
I found that it was a hugely compelling read, several times continuing to read far too late into the night. The mystery is well crafted and as complex and inter-weaving as the previous novel.
The main characters continue to be interesting, although also frustrating in many ways - a bit like the fifth Harry Potter novel, if only they’d talk to one another more then a lot of their angst would be resolved.
However it does feel like Rowling has made some avoidable choices which, when coupled with knowledge of her previous statements on social media, paint the book in a dark light. Admittedly, from another author the same plot points might go unmentioned - indeed some of them I’ve seen in other crime novels I’ve read this year - but because of the background it feels like Rowling is trying to reiterate her points. She could have taken different routes, or even picked up on the opportunity she gives herself to add balance - but she did not.
So… it’s 95% a good, entertaining story, and 5% problematic.