Truth be told, crime novels are usually not on the top of my book list and the main reason I dug into this tome was because it is written by J.K. Rowling (under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith) and because I've read the previous Strike volumes, too. The previous Strike novels consistently got darker and darker, and Career of Evil has appalled and thrilled me the most, but Lethal White does live up to expectations.
I marvel at the ability of Galbraith to keep the plot going without really much happening in the beginning - and still making the book an absolute page-turner. This time, we are led into the harsh realities of politics and the British government in the Houses of Parliament. Blackmail, kidnapping, left wing organisations and, of course, murder are all part of the game, which ends in a fulminate and breathtaking finale.
However, there is also plenty of character progression for the main two characters. Half of the book, the reader gets to witness the many rows between Robin Ellacott, Strike's pleasing-looking partner, and her indignant husband, Matt, who actually might be right in his jealousy of Strike and Robin's relationship. However, he comes across as such a chauvinist dickhead that as a reader you wonder how Robin can stick with him (but then, half of the book, so does she). Strike's progression is somewhat slower. Although we clearly see the approaching love affair between him and Robin emerge, he is still a man unable to keep up a relationship (which this book's girlfriend does not fall short of telling him repeatedly) and seems emotionally slightly crippled (also, he smokes too much).
With their business, yet again, on the verge of extinction, they take up a blackmail case involving a politician in the higher ranks - only for that politician to be found murdered in a most gruesome way.
However, this is by far not the only story line evolving in Lethal White. It generally seems to hold various plots together at the same time, and although that may appear to be a dangerous game to play as a writer, Galbraith easily pulls it off and manages to bring everything neatly together in the end. We also meet drug-head Billy who stumbles into Strike's office right in the opening chapters to ramble about a child he saw being killed many years ago - ironically very close to where the murdered politician's country house is situated! His brother Jimmy runs a left wing extremist organisation and gets all twitchy when being talked to about a supposedly dead child in the bog...
Even though sometimes the plot seems to be driven by coincidence (as in most crime novels, it appears) and I could guess who the murderer was before the big reveal, Lethal White was a thorough joy to read and definitely a page-turner. It is a pleasure to see a writer who owns the craft seemingly effortlessly pull together relatable characters, various plots and a gruesome murder scene. Definitely recommended for a long and rainy weekend - it will surely keep you entertained all weekend long!
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