This is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series written by J. K. Rowling under a pseudonym. Set amid the 2012 Olympics in London, the novel picks up from where the previous novel, Career of Evil, leaves off.
Strike is approached by Billy Knight, a troubled young man with mental health problems, who claims that as a child he witnessed the strangulation and burial of a young child. Strike is also contacted by Jasper Chiswell, a Conservative M.P. who wants information about two blackmailers, one of whom is Billy’s brother Jimmy. Robin, Strike’s partner, assists in the investigations which eventually also involve looking into a suspicious death.
This is a lengthy book with lots of twists and turns and red herrings. The plot is so complex with so many details that the reader will be at a loss to tie together all the information into a coherent whole. Of course, Strike and Robin do manage to make connections and eventually find answers to the many puzzles. To add to the reader’s enjoyment, the resolution makes perfect sense.
There are some predictable elements. For instance, Robin and Matthew continue to have disagreements over her job, Robin and Strike take a road trip, and the women with whom Strike has liaisons cause problems for Strike and confusion for Robin. And there are the inevitable conversations where Strike and Robin talk at cross purposes and fail to understand each other.
Though this can be read as a standalone novel, it is best read as part of the series since the Strike and Robin relationship has developed over time. This book, more than the others, focuses on the unacknowledged romantic tension between the two. Though Robin is married to Matthew and Strike has another sexual partner, there is an attraction that is obvious. Some readers will enjoy this romance element but I found it distracting and it certainly slows the pace so the book cannot be called a thriller.
This is not the best book of the series, though it is still entertaining. I do hope that the protagonists finally become a couple so the focus of future books will be the cases they need to solve.