“Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough — who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.
Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.
As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . . “
-Synopsis from Goodreads
I have been waiting for Troubled Blood for the last two years! This summer I did a re-read of the first four books, along with many other fans of the series, so by the time I got my hands on this book, the hype was real! Be it the books or the BBC show, I just can’t get enough of this series.
Lots of spoilers below, so fair warning if you haven’t yet read the book!
Troubled Blood is over 900 pages. That is a huge amount of time to expect someone to spend reading a book, so it better be good, right? That was my first thought. I love this series but I was a little worried knowing that I would be spending a good two weeks reading this book.
Was it worth it? Yes.
As with the other books in the series, it’s slow moving. Troubled Blood spans a full year, which is the first time this has happened in a Strike book. This time around, Robin and Strike are investigating a cold case from forty years ago. A woman disappeared, vanished without a trace, and her daughter is now asking them to look into the disappearance once again. Clearly that is not something that can be done quickly. But because I love the storytelling style of these books, I was ready to go along for the ride.
The first half of the book is all about re-tracing the steps of the investigation from the first (and later, second) investigating officers. Strike and Robin also spend a good chunk of time interviewing everyone that the missing woman saw on her last days; she was a doctor, so this involved tracking down all the other doctors at her practice, the office nurses, staff, and cleaning person. Robin and Strike divide up this work between themselves, leaving their other cases to the subcontractors that have since been hired to keep the agency going. Some of the interviews are done separately, and others are with both Robin and Strike present.
During this time, Robin is dealing with her divorce and the awful Matthew who is again, being awful! We also see Charlotte yet again, and I have to say I really dislike her for all the distress she causes Strike. The biggest thing going on outside the case is Strike’s Aunt Joan’s cancer diagnosis, and his need to return to Cornwall repeatedly to be there to help her and his Uncle Ted. This means lots of getting together with his half-sister Lucy and her family, which we know Strike tries to avoid at all costs.
It was really hard seeing him go through with all of this; reorganizing his work schedule to make time for these extended trips, missing out on Robin’s updates from the office (and her updates from her personal life) and braving a literal storm to reach his aunt for her final days. Much of his past is dredged up, understandably, and Strike has to come to terms with a lot of things that have been bothering him for years. Charlotte continues to get in the way (in my opinion) which Robin also catches wind of. As ever, Strike and Robin avoid talking openly with one another which leads to lots of confusion and misunderstandings. Just tell him! Just be honest with her! Those are the things I kept thinking as I was reading. But that would make it too easy, right?
What happens with Matthew wasn’t surprising to me in the slightest, I was just relieved that Robin wasn’t too much affected by his news. Similarly, what happens with Charlotte also didn’t surprise me too much, either. I think readers of the series will be able to guess what those two things might be. The only thing that I didn’t like, which is really dumb and just a quirk of mine, is that Strike had the flu for several chapters and the details of his sickness were making me want to be sick as I was reading it. I can’t stand colds/flus (lol) and I don’t like reading about them, either. So, when Christmas comes along and I’m getting all ready to see what Strike gives Robin, imagine my disappointment when instead we find out that everyone at the agency is getting the flu, Strike included. Ugh.
There is also a horrible chapter involving Robin’s younger brother who comes to stay with her, and a dinner party that goes awry which is such an understatement. Again, I hate reading about my favorite characters going through difficulties and this chapter was just awful, mainly due to Strike’s behavior (surprising no one!)
The second half of the book was a whirlwind as the investigation picks up speed, and all of the interpersonal drama at the office comes to a head. I wish I had read these chapters more slowly so I could really take it all in, but I just flew through them because I wanted to know what happened next.
The ending was very much worth it. I didn’t guess who the killer was, or what exactly happened to the missing woman, although I was able to catch some discrepancies here and there that made me question certain people. Strike was able to put it all together in the end, and I always enjoy watching him catch someone redhanded!
The ending, the final couple of chapters in particular, were my favorite. I just love Robin and Strike so much and again, fellow readers will know just how long it took us to reach this point with the two of them. Looking ahead, I have to admit I’m nervous about their new detective. Will their presence and involvement in the agency interfere with what Robin and Strike have now? I’ll avoid thinking about that because the ending was just so perfect and I want to keep it on that high note for as long as possible.
After spending the last four months re-reading this series, I can’t think of a better way to have wrapped up Summer 2020. This series has far exceeded my expectations at every turn and I am always left satisfied with each book, but ready to welcome the next installment. Although the page count of this one seemed a bit much, it really was necessary for the full story and I don’t think anything in it was out of place or not needed, although my wrist was hurting towards the end!
Goodreads rating: One million stars (Five stars)