The Ink Black Heart. Robert Galbraith. An honest review by a fan

Like it says in the title of the blog I’m a fan of “Robert Galbraith” just like I’m a fan of J.K Rowling.

I’ve loved every book in the Strike/Ellicot series, so I hope everyone will understand that I am not jumping on a band wagon, or trolling with this blog.

It’s my honest opinion of the latest book in one of my favourite series.

The story is basically a murder, and attempted murder investigation.

Two people are attacked in a Cemetery, one is killed, the other left paralysed. They are the creators of a cult cartoon series. The cartoon had led to an unauthorised gaming app which acts as a chat room for fans.

It’s the chat room which the story revolves around. And this is where the problems start for the reader.

A lot of the plot is set out in the chat room format, with two or three conversations taking place at the same time, on the same page, in different columns. The spacing of each chat leaves large gaps and I was puzzled as to whether I should read each column in turn, each page in turn, or across the page to read each column in timeline order.

A short explanation by the publisher at the beginning of the ebook explains why the format on ebook is unchanged, and explains that it is then written in an ebook user friendly way after the original format. A note to them is, it isn’t in many places, in fact it isn’t in most places.

No explanation is given by the author as to how these sections should be read. I tried all ways to read it but found them frustrating and at times ambiguous.

One of the reasons I found them ambiguous is that, owing to the way chat rooms work each character has their own username which is unique to the room/game.

Getting used to these names is at times confusing. Adding to the confusion is that each of the people in the chat room are also active on Twitter.

Again there are long sections of the book written as Tweets or Twitter streams.

Each person on Twitter has their user @name plus their user name which is often not their actual name.

So now we have Strike and Robin investigating a case where all of the suspects, and there are quite a few, have at least 3 pseudonyms and a real name.

The problem being neither Strike, Robin, or the reader know who the characters are in the game compared to their Twitter names, or their actual name.

The basis of the story is that one character in the game chat room is bullying, cajoling, grooming, and generally being aggressive, and is thought to be responsible for the attack on the cartoons creators.

Strike and Robin are not investigating the murder, that’s down to the Police. They have been retained to find out who the online bully is.

This takes them into the murky world of the cartoon, it’s game/chat room, and it’s weird fans.

It takes them to places as diverse as an artistic commune and a Comic-Con Convention.

Just like all the other books in the series there are also other investigations taking place with Strike and Robin’s team being stretched to the limit and thankfully providing occasional relief from the main storyline.

The ongoing private lives of Strike and Robin, as well as their relationship also provides a relief within the story.

It pains me to say this, but this is not the best book I’ve ever read, nor is it the best book in this series. In fact, it it wasn’t part of the series I would have given in on it early on.

I did make it to the end, and in all honesty I’m still not one hundred percent sure I know exactly what happens or why.

Yes I know the identity of the killer but how we got there I’m still a little confused by.

Just after I started the book I started a thread about the format it’s presented in, on ebook, on a Crime Book Group I’m part of on Facebook. The general opinion was reflective of my thoughts that it was impossible to read in Kindle, an opinion that hasn’t changed.

A couple of interesting things came out of the responses.

People who were reading it in Hardback were also finding it confusing and frustrating.

Some people on there would not hear a thing said against Galbraith/Rowling.

I wonder how many people will buy this book and read it, like me, all the way to the end. How many people will either skip vast chunks of it, namely the chat room and Twitter streams, and just how many people will just give in on it.

Will this book become, what I call a “Lord of the Rings” book. Everybody’s has a copy, but not many have ever read it to completion., but many will claim they have.

As I said at the start of the blog, I’m a huge fan and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. This one is just a bit…….. I don’t really know. I read it all, it was hugely frustrating, and a bit anticlimactic, but I read it all just in case something happened that I’d need to know in future books.

Print length: 1024 pages according to Amazon. Audiobook: 32 Hours 43 Minutes. Narrator: Robert Glenister

Career of Evil Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil     Robert Galbraith

The third in the Cormoran Strike series is no let down. From the first page it’s a comfortable enjoyable read.

Following on from The Silkworm the book finds Strike and his assistant; don’t call her his secretary, Robin, busy on two low profile cases. That is until a package is sent to their office.

The grisly contents of the parcel send Strike and Robin on a path of not so much a who-done-it, but more of a which-one-done-it.

Strike quickly comes up with a list of suspects that would want to send him a message in such a way.

The possible suspects open up more of Cormoran Strike’s backstory. Is one of the criminals he prosecuted during his time in the Special Investigation Branch of the Army responsible, or is it somebody closer to home from within his extended and confused family, and who is the mystery victim.

As the investigation continues the Police start to look for a possible serial killer. Strike is convinced that the parcels sender is responsible for the killings, but who will be the next victim.

The investigation takes the duo across the country and into Strike’s past. Moving through the seedy world of drug dealers, child abusers, strip joints and domestic violence Robert Galbraith introduces some fantastically realistic characters. As with the previous books every one of them is so well written you have to think that at some time the author has met people of similar ilk.

Each scene, whether it is a London back street pub, or a Hospital ward, is written in a way that effortlessly transports the reader to the time and place the author is describing.

The main story of this book is the unravelling of the puzzle of who sent the parcel, and possibly identifying a the serial killer, but the thing that keeps the story ticking along is the revelations about Strikes past, and his relationship with Robin.

At the end of Silkworm Robin was due to marry her boyfriend but the reader was left in no doubt she had feelings for Strike, and him for her. Neither will openly acknowledge their feelings and this theme continues into this book. In many stories I would consider this an unnecessary diversion but in these books I find it fascinating.

Robin will take risks to prove her worth to Strike, and he will give her duties that will keep her out of danger, but in the end will it all end well. Her safety may well depend on Strike identifying the killer, if he doesn’t will he put her in danger in a place where he thinks she’s out of harms way.

Will there be a happy ever after ending.

There’s only one way to find out.

Read the book.