This latest book following the exploits of Strike and Robin is extremely detailed and in danger of being completely overwhelming.
Delivering the biggest and most detailed Strike novel to date, Robert Galbraith’s new novel certainly covers a lot of topics while exploring further the two central characters.
Troubled Blood sees Strike and Robin trying to solve their first cold case – the disappearance of Doctor Margot Bamborough who went missing forty years ago. Along the way the pair have to unpick the previous detective’s work as well as having to deal with personal issues surrounding an ill aunt and a nasty divorce.
Somehow managing to interweave the personal as well as the professional lives of both Strike and Robin, it allows the reader to see both characters in a way that they haven’t been before. In particular, there is a slightly softer side to Strike as he opens up to Robin about his past, while Robin finds a new confidence as she throws herself into this case.
There are plenty of suspects and theories as to what exactly happened to Margot and as always, Galbraith paints a vivid picture that keeps the reader effectively guessing to the very end. Much of the focus is on serial killer Dennis Creed, who would dress up in women’s clothing as a way to attack his victims – but other suspects include gangsters and former co-workers, all of whom would have their own reasons for being the reason for the doctor’s disappearance.
It has to be said that given the number of different characters involved, Troubled Blood can become slightly overwhelming in places that will cause you go back a few pages to remind yourself how they connect to the case. It could also be said that the conversations about the Scottish referendum and other contemporary issues feel slightly jarring and perhaps slightly self-indulgent in wanting to express the author’s own views. But for the most part, the book flows along nicely.
In terms of how it fits in with the rest of the series, it feels like a nice development for the two central characters and to see them having to solve a cold case is fascinating. However, there are elements of the central story that feel confusing – particularly given the astrology references in the former leading detective’s notebook that Robin becomes fixated by, it just doesn’t quite work in the larger context of the story.
Overall, Troubled Blood has plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end and despite its flaws is engaging to read from start to finish.
By Emma Clarendon
Troubled Blood is available to buy now.