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  • Anna Karras

Book Review

The Ink Black Heart

by Robert Galbraith

Publisher: Mulholland Books

1462 Pages

$32 US

Cormoran Strike is starting to get a reputation as a private detective. But whether this is a good thing or not is anyone’s guess. With his partner, Robin Ellacot, they are still riding high from cracking a cold case (Troubled Blood, 2020) when Edie Ledwell arrives at their office. Ledwell is the co-creator of the cult indie cartoon called The Ink Black Heart and pleads to have the agency find the identity of an Internet troll named Anomie who is ruining her life. But before Strike and Robin have a chance to confer, Edie and her partner Josh are attacked in Highgate Cemetery, leaving Josh clinging to life and Edie dead.


But as Cormoran and Robin are drawn into the case to discover Anomie’s identity, they realize the detective work is new and unsettling: trawling through the Internet to gather clues instead of the usual surveillance techniques. Anomie is extremely clever, and their identity is so well-concealed that months slip away as the pair of detectives work the case. But with each step they make closer to discovering the truth, the more dangerous Anomie becomes. And the final test is one that will leave readers breathless.


Rowling is a master of plot and world-building. Like the magical world of Harry Potter, so Cormoran Strike’s London is a visceral and real place. With each successive book in the series, she has built complex characters of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacot, their complicated relationship, and their internal lives. Fans of this series know to expect not just a cleverly plotted mystery with each installment, but also a deep dive into the psyches of the detective team, their personal lives, and the eternal question of will they or won’t they get together.


This book is thought-provoking in its careful study of online trolls. Rowling has been at the center of controversy for the past few years because of certain views she has espoused. Whichever side you take, her exploration of online identities, patterns of behavior, and the whiplash vagaries of fame are poignant. One can’t help but make inferences about how these have all affected her personally, even when the circumstances in The Ink Black Heart are far from her own experiences. This new online world is not one Rowling was born into, she watched it be created like many of us. And the double-edged sword of this new reality is deadly.


A hefty book, weighing in at over 1000 pages, this is a book to be savored, even though this reader flew through the pages to find out what happened. Rowling lays out clues with a deft hand and gathers them up into a neat finish every time. While the books are best when read in order, one need not start at the beginning to fully enjoy The Ink Black Heart in all its splendor. But it will drive new readers back to the very first case.


 

∞ Author Profile

Robert Galbraith is the pen name of Joanne Rowling, also known as J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter series for children. Born in the UK, she has written six books in the Cormoran Strike series. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and children.


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