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Book Review: Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) (5/5)

25 Jul

I was a little hesitant to get into this because I’d heard there was some controversy about it being anti-trans. I also didn’t want to stop reading a series I’ve become so heavily vested in, so I pushed forward with caution. While I listened to audiobooks of the first four, I decided to do this one as an ebook while I nursed or rocked Baby to sleep. I haven’t looked forward to rocking them down so much in their life. I couldn’t wait to read a few pages of this book. I stayed up way too late one night to figure out the culprit and regretted the loss of sleep the next day. But it was sooooo good.

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Cover image via Amazon

Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike #5) by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Other books by Rowling reviewed on this blog:

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry Potter y el orden del fenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter y el misterio del principe by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter y las reliquias de muerte by J.K. Rowling
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Summary from Amazon:

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough – who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one 40 years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer, and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly…

OK, wow. This one had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t remember the last time I read a book this long this quickly. The character building was great, the pacing was amazing, and the mystery was complex and enjoyable. I thought I might not enjoy this as much as an ebook as I did an audiobook, but I might have enjoyed it more. Though I had a narrator’s voice in my head the whole time.

I wanted to address the anti-trans opinions in this book. From what I read online, those who were upset were upset because of a character who is a serial killer and would dress in woman’s clothing to lure his victims into his van or home. This character himself is not transgender. I can understand why this is upsetting to some readers. I do want to share my opinion on the portrayal in this book only. This was a very minor part of the killer’s backstory and he himself is not transgendered. I barley noticed the few times this was referenced. It had minor impacts on the plot or even that character. I don’t feel there was a purposeful attempt to shame or slander the transgender community with the inclusion of this character and backstory. However, I know I’m speaking from the position of a cisgender woman and those with a different background might see it differently.

One of my favorite things about this series is how real Robin and Strike feel to me. I can see them being people I’d run into on the street. Robin has always felt very relatable and I often think “Yep, that’s what I would do” while we’re in her head. The cast of side characters are equally enjoyable and distinct in their own right.

Irene was one of my favorite side characters because she was so well drawn. I could picture someone just like her (and she reminded me of someone in my family at times). I didn’t think she was purposefully malicious, but she struck me as untrustworthy more than once. Well, we find out why but I won’t dive into that. Rowling/Galbraith has a way of describing people that are so real it’s almost hard to read about them. I was laughing through most of her interview.

I haven’t shared many experiences with the characters in this book, but I always seem to feel for Robin. Matthew always felt like a combination of all my horrible ex-boyfriends and her exasperation when dealing with him felt very real to me. In earlier books, we were around the same age and a lot of the familial pressures she shared were similar to ones I’d felt. My job is just less exciting.

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J.K. Rowling Image via Biography

The reveal at the end was wonderfully done. (No spoilers, I promise.) The way it was revealed, you got some answers you didn’t expect before you got the answer to the ‘Who’ part of the mystery. The pacing was just excellent. I stayed up WAY later than I should have one night to finish the chapter where everything was explained. It was a masterful display and I adored it.

The sub-plot with Saul Morris bothered me the most. He felt so icky and I don’t have better words to describe that. It seemed a bit out of place in the book and I have to imagine it’s a set-up for a future book, but it left me feeling put off. I almost hope he doesn’t turn up again.

A lot of people in this book were not listed to or believed. No one believed Brian Tucker’s theories about his daughter’s disappearance. No one believed many of the eye witnesses about what they’d seen on the night Margot disappeared. Few people believed Roy when he gave his account of the day. And no one believed the Athorn family and what they said. Many of the frustrations in this book seem to be from people who spent years not being listened to and they’re so happy Strike is finally taking them seriously.

Writer’s Takeaway: As with the other Strike books I’ve read, I wasn’t able to figure them out before everything was revealed. Honestly, I’m OK with that. I enjoyed the ride and when everything was presented, I remembered all of the evidence being readily available and in front of my eyes if I’d cared to look at it the way Strike did. I don’t write mysteries and I’m not sure I could. The way Galbraith/Rowling has layered them together is wonderful and enjoyable and I can only aspire to that level of nuance and subtlety.

A wonderfully fun book to read. Five out of Five Stars. This kickstarted my reading again.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Post:
Book Review: Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith | Richard Fox’s blog