I finally got round to reading the latest book in J.K. Rowling’s Comoran Strike series, Lethal White, written under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith.
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 more tricky than that . . .
I’ve had Lethal White by Robert Galbraith on my TBR pile for some time now, and it’s only since lockdown that I’ve had the chance to read it. Robert Galbraith’s latest book is long, but as I was reading, I didn’t want it to end. I became so immersed in the writing and the lives of the characters that I deliberately slowed down as I wanted to savour it.
Robert Galbraith pens a complex plot. London is in the grip of Olympic fever as the 2012 Olympics approach. The famous private detective, Comoran Strike, has not long wrapped up a case after catching the Shacklewell Ripper. His name is splashed across the front pages of the papers and work at his detective agency is exploding. In the opening chapters, a disturbed man, Billy, runs into his office claiming to have witnessed the murder of a child. But before Strike has the chance to speak to him further, he scarpers, but his claims stick in Strike’s mind. Days later and he is contacted by a government minister who is concerned about threats he is receiving. But what connects the government minister to Billy’s story?
I really like Strike and Robin’s relationship, but it does feel a little strained in this book. In the opening chapter, Robin is getting married to a man she barely loves, but she feels as though she can’t back out of it, no matter how much she would like to. I felt quite frustrated as she went ahead with the marriage, I think this was because I didn’t like her partner, Matthew, from the moment I met him in earlier books in this series. He felt very controlling, and I kept thinking that Robin could do a lot better.
But once the case Robin and Strike are investigating begins, things between them pick up again, and Strike is glad to have Robin back working by his side. The case itself takes very dark turns, and Strike and Robin know that they will have to unpick the layers of the minister’s family to find out the real truth about what’s been going on. There is a lot of undercover work which is always fraught with risks, and I could feel the tension rising as Strike and Robin delved further into the investigation. Strike is also determined to find out the truth behind Billy’s story. I could never be sure if what Billy claims he saw was true and I wanted to get to the bottom of it as well.
I think what really makes this series are the characters. Strike and Robin are so engaging, and their personal stories are intriguing as well. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the Strike series, and I’ll try to not leave it for too long before I read it. I highly recommend these books if you haven’t come across them before.
Publication date: 18th September 2018 (hardcover) 18th April 2019 (paperback)
Print length: 784 pages
Lethal White is available to buy: