Narrator: Robert Glenister
Series: Cormoran Strike #4
Published by Hachette Audio on September 18, 2018
Length: 22 hrs 31 mins
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"I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”
When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.
Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.
And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.
It’s funny, when I saw Lethal White was out, I had to pick it up. I remember loving Cormoran Strike, the detective, and really enjoying the novels. I apparently had absolutely erased Career of Evil (#3) from my mind. Looking back at my review for that one, I almost DNF’ed it, but finished only because, well, I love Cormoran Strike. That’s fine, because Lethal White was a return to the series I enjoy.
The mystery begins, as the blurb states, with a young man’s visit to Strike’s office. The young man, Billy, clearly has mental health issues, but he also clearly believes he saw a child strangled years earlier. Separately, Strike is hired by Jasper Chiswell, the Minister of Culture, who is being blackmailed by Jimmy Knight, Billy’s older brother, and Geraint Winn, the husband of the Minister for Sport. Chiswell wants Strike to get dirt on Winn and Knight that he can use against them, but won’t tell Strike what information they are using to blackmail him, only saying it was legal at the time. When we finally get to the murder, it’s Chiswell who ends up dead in his house, a murder staged as suicide.
The mystery kept me interested. We have several suspects, all with their own reasons for hating Chiswell, mostly personal rather than political though. Of course, everything is intertwined, and Strike pulls all the clues together. He’s a bit like Sherlock; he takes all these unconnected clues and conversations and fits it all together almost like magic, filling us in at the grand denouement.
Cormoran and Robin are characters that we’ve gotten to know over several books, but the secondary characters are well-done. The author doesn’t resort to stereotypes. Each has his/her own personality, goals. Even the bad guys we can feel some sympathy for.
My one complaint is with Robin and her husband Matt. First of all, she should never have married him. Second, once she did, she shouldn’t have stayed. Their “relationship” just detracts from the novel overall. I’m not a big fan of the sexual tension between her and Strike either, but so far it hasn’t hijacked a plotline, so I can overlook it for now. Maybe I just don’t like Robin, which is odd, considering Rowling calls her “the most purely loveable character I’ve written.” Maybe I just don’t want my detectives and side-kicks to have too much of a personal life, a little is good, friends, spouses, favorite hangouts, but not too much. I’m reading a mystery, not a drama, not even a “literary mystery” for that matter. I do wish Robin hadn’t been put in another near-death situation, but she seems to be stronger at the end of this installment than she was a the beginning.
Overall, I really enjoyed Lethal White. It’s hard to put down. It has plenty of action, interesting characters, and the connected mysteries are full of twists and turns, everything I’m looking for in a mystery.
I just started watching the tv series the other day. I’m not sure that it’s going to be as compelling as the books are.