"She was murdered by a far more skilful killer than you ever were."
Title: Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike 5 Novel)
Author: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
I am usually not a sucker for crime novels, but the Strike books are so gripping and enthralling that I was glad to get my hands on this little tome (only a few pages short of a 1000 pages). Despite the controversial opinions of Rowling and a "cross-dressing serial killer" (I'll get to that later), the book sky-rocketed on the book market.
I feel that Galbraith (i.e. Rowling) manages to become better and better at setting up gruesome stories, and this little jewel is the most gruesome so far in my opinion. A brutal serial killer in the mix and a cold case, which somehow makes it all the more tragic. Amidst all the conundrum of who-dunnit-it are also the continuous tensions between our main detective Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Especially their personal stories seem to be even deeper in this book, as Strike struggles with an ailing aunt in Cornwall who requires his attention, as well as mixed feelings he has towards his attractive business partner.
Meanwhile Robin is still in the messy parts of disentangling her short-lived marriage while dealing with sexism, work overload and, of course, her share of confusing feelings towards her business partner (Rowling has a gift of setting up long-term teases - just think about Ron and Hermione).
But where is the crime in all this? Well, in this book Strike is approached by a desperate woman who wants to find out what happened to her mother forty years ago when she just disappeared when walking from her office to a pub, never to be seen again. Strike's first cold case leads him down a lane of serial killers, confusion, a deranged cop who handled the case back then, and many layers of old guilt, all not making it necessarily easier to find out the truth - or the woman who went missing.
The fact that a brutal serial killer was making his rounds at the time and refuses to relay all the victims he's tortured and killed in his basement makes Strike's and Robin's case probably the most delicate, difficult and gruesome yet.
As for the "transphobic" criticism, it is utterly ridiculous. There is only a known serial killer who sometimes dresses up as a woman to lure women in, and some people from forty years ago saying he was effeminate in some ways, that's it and surely not a reason to flip out - so don't let that non-existent issue deter you.
If you love fast-paced novels with a genuine background story for the detectives and don't mind some grisly details (I honestly couldn't read the book at night), this crime novel is a fantastic read for you and so far my favourite Strike novel.
One word description: Gruesome.
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