I first saw this book on goodreads a few weeks before it was going to be published. Immediately I requested the book at the library. I enjoyed the first one (The Cuckoo's Calling) and wanted to keep up with the duo of Strike and Robin.
Robert Glenister is a great voice actor! While his voice range is not the best, he definitely makes up for it by finding unique voices for each of the characters. The raspy voice of a chain-smoker, the voice of an innocent girl, the list goes on. The fact that Glenister is English, helps me remember that this is all taking place over there. When I read in my mind, I read in my own accent (Chicago, ILL). (I actually have a really strong Chicago accent, I've been told. Multiple times I've been asked to say things like "hot dog".) So, it's super apropos and helps to get into the feel of the story.
In this book, Robin has a lot on her plate as she is constantly trying to prove to Strike that she is ready to be trained for a detective position. She idolizes Strike, wants training, and wants to be a partner in crime-solving. With the stresses of work, Robin has a lot to deal with at home. Her impending wedding is drawing ever-nearer. Her fiances is not-so supportive of her choice profession, and she's worried that Strike is looking for investigative help elsewhere, leaving Robin behind as a lowly secretary.
Strike is dealing with personal issues as well. While fighting off the loneliness of an empty bed, he must hunker down and throw himself into his work, only to be reminded of his lost on-again-off-again ex-fiance.
Something super noticeable to me was the amount of profanity. I'm not saying that there was the f-bomb on every page, but (from what I remember) it's more than the first one. Having just read an article about whether or not profanity is necessary or pushed in some characters, I zeroed in on every one. There were times when I thought a certain character (not Strike or Robin) swore to the point of being obnoxious. Said character was pretty unbelievable to me. Not "unbelievable" in a totally radical way, but "unbelievable" in the way that I just didn't really see this character as an actual person in the story. It was forced.
I really enjoyed the story as a whole. There were some really dark, much darker than the first one, plot lines and details. I enjoyed most of the character development and the relationship each character had with one another. Something I'm finding to be a characteristic of Galbraith and Rowling is to have a shit-ton of characters. There were times when I got names mixed with personalities and jobs mixed up. I didn't know which way was up.
This book definitely had me guessing. I changed my mind several times about whom I thought the killer was. Each time I was "certain" that character did it, only to change my mind again. With so many people insulted in Quine's manuscript, just about everyone was after blood. This isn't one of those books you can put the clues together for yourself. (Or maybe it's a book that I can't put the clues together myself.) While things slowly come in to perspective, there are still huge gaps that Strike has to explain. Once again, we don't really understand who the killer is or why they did it until Strike's monologue. Not that this is a bad thing. After it's all out on the table, it definitely made sense, and the Encyclopedia Brown within me was satisfied.
My rating and why: I give this book three stars! I finished it and I liked it. It would have been more stars had I been able to keep the characters straight. This is just a personal thing, you might be able to rather easily. I liked that there were so many suspects that all had legit reasons to want Quine gone. And I'm still in love with both Strike and Robin. Whether they're off doing their own thing or collaborating together, I'm one happy camper.