My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Arrrrrgggghhhh! How you wanna go and end the book like that! OMG no, come on!
Ok, I’ve come down from that ending (which still pisses me off) and think I can manage a coherent review now.
There was a lot going on in this book, and we learned a lot more about Robin and Strike than the trickles of information from the previous books. Their relationship shifted slightly and we finally had acknowledgement of the sexual tension between them, although we’re still left without any relief or hope that anything will ever happen.
I enjoyed learning more about the 3 suspects that the duo investigated, although they were despicable to the last. The brief chapters we got from the killers point of view was also no fun, and it made me feel okay about the prospect of being single for the foreseeable future. I know it’s fiction, but sadly, it’s firmly grounded in fact.
The investigation was tedious, with a lot of time spent on surveillance… which I guess is a good approximation of the actual profession and highlights that being an investigator isn’t all chasing criminals and catching killers. It was also pretty obvious from at least halfway through who the killer was… although I had some weird dreams last night where I woke up convinced that it was in fact Matthew…
On the subject of Matthew… what didn’t make sense to me is that we see this picture of Robin as a strong character, but that doesn’t reflect in her relationship with Matthew. Obviously there should be more, things that we don’t see that explains the love Robin feels for this character that is so obviously written to be the cliché’d douchebag boyfriend, but instead we’re left with this picture of the last person on earth someone like Robin would like. It doesn’t make sense and it feels like a cheap trick used by the author to direct the reader a specific way.
Specifically, we seem to be pushed to root for more between Robin and Strike, which is obviously the main relationship here… but surely there are other ways to create the will they/won’t they undertone than to create this awesome female character that is supposed to be strong and smart and incredible — then you saddle her with an insufferable Ken doll as a boyfriend and a backstory to “explain” her motivations.
And that’s another thing… this book focused a lot on various sensitive subjects… mostly about some of the abuse and prejudice women are subjected to. There are some graphic scenes of violence that will most definitely trigger unhappy memories in each and every woman who reads this book. The main theme is misogyny and the power men hold over women. Even Strike can be an insufferable sexist pig.
I want to ask why Robin had to be given that particular history, but on the other hand it’s a common enough occurrence that it’s completely plausible. People will say that it’s unnecessary and a dirty trick used to make Robin a martyr, but I don’t feel that. I think Rowling gave Robin that experience to show readers who might not know how something like that can affect your life, but it doesn’t define you and you can still be a hero even if someone made you a victim too. The two are not mutually exclusive.
The guy who narrated this book (and the previous ones in the series) was amazing. He had exactly the right tone and accent for each character and brought them to vivid life in my mind. The action sequences were done so well that I almost hyperventilated, and his natural English accent was extremely drool-inducing.
So in conclusion, even though I felt like Rowling was using trickery to try and manipulate me, I still think this was the best of the series so for. And even though that ending was infuriating, it left me salivating for the next one… which doesn’t even have an expected publication date yet!
P.S. I love the casting 😀