Joshua Baker reviews Troubled Blood; the new novel by Robert Galbraith.
Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith, the pseudonym of J.K.Rowling, is the bestselling fifth Cormoran Strike novel. The novel follows ex-veteran, now turned Private Detective Cormoran Strike and his once temp, now partner, Robin Ellacottas, who attempt to solve a forty-year-old cold case on the disappearance of Dr Margot Bamborough. Being given a year to find out what happened to her by Dr Bamborough’s daughter Anna, we see for the first time a Strike novel take place over a whole year rather than just a few months. In order to solve the case, both Strike and Robin delve into astrology and occultism, which the original detective on the case, who ended up having a breakdown, used in order to find the Essex Butcher - a serial killer at the time - who he believed had kidnapped, killed and disposed of Dr Margot Bamborough.
Storytelling at its finest!
Having the novel take place over a year allows the reader to spend more time with the series’ main characters who for many, including myself, is the best part of the series as the characters are written fantastically. At over 900 pages in length, it is not only the longest Strike novel but also the longest book that Rowling has ever written, and as a big fan of her work and her storytelling, this is fantastic and I struggled to put it down. Different to what you might think, the length of the book does not make the novel feel dragged out, as the pacing of the plot feels natural. The length in fact makes you feel the frustration and determination that the characters have in finding out what happened all those years ago.
There are times near the start of the novel that make you feel that the real plot into the investigation is not picking up. However, instead we get wonderful character pieces on both Strike and Robin. The novel allows us in particular to find out much more about Strikes family, which for the last four books has been largely off page; whereas Robin who was at the forefront with her personal life in the previous two novels takes more of a backseat, which is a bit of a disappointment. Unlike the previous novels, the threat to the characters isn’t as clearly prominent as the case in question happened so long in the past.
Is the book transphobic?
Whilst there have been claims that this book is transphobic, I assure you that it is not, and the claims that it is are blown way out of proportion. There are only one or two mentions of the Essex Butcher having dressed in women’s clothing once in an attempt to get close to a victim and that is it. For more information on the topic there is this article which I found to be insightful when I started reading the novel - https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/j-k-rowling-s-latest-novel-isn-t-transphobic-
My Favourite in the Series
I enjoyed this book immensely, having read it within a couple of days, and it is now my favourite of the series. I’d recommend reading the previous four books in the series first (starting with The Cuckoo’s Calling) to best enjoy the characters and the dynamic between them. If you love crime fiction or just superbly written protagonists then these are the books for you.
Written by Joshua Baker