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Troubled Blood Reviews

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

Troubled Blood

Robert Galbraith

4.14 out of 5

7 reviews

Imprint: Sphere
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 15 Sep 2020
ISBN: 9780751579932

TROUBLED BLOOD is the next thrilling instalment in the highly acclaimed, international bestselling series featuring Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott, written by Robert Galbraith, a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling.

1 Prize for Troubled Blood

The British Book Awards
2021 Winner: Crime & Thriller Book of the Year

The fifth instalment of J K Rowling’s pseudonymous crime series was dubbed “intricate”, “engaging” and “memorable” by the judges for this category


4 stars out of 5
Geoffrey Wansell
1 Oct 2020

"Intensely satisfying, though it is very long."

Strike’s Cornish roots are revealed as he examines the mysterious disappearance of a 29-year-old doctor in the area in 1974 — as is Robin’s anguish over her failed marriage.

The ingenious killer is captured with a gimlet eye, proving the old adage that a good hero is always made better by a great villain. Intensely satisfying, though it is very long.

4 stars out of 5
Allan Massie
24 Sep 2020

"Interest is unflaggingly maintained"

One of the many strengths of this very enjoyable novel is the way in which it traces the consequences of crime for all those survivors affected by it. “Crime,” as Nicholas Freeling wrote, “is the pathology of the human condition, the moment at which … the delicate balance of metabolism tilts into morbidity.” This is what we are shown here. The solution, scrupulously arrived at, may, if stated boldly, appear far-fetched and improbable. But it has been well prepared. The clues have been planted. Careful reading is rewarded. Yes, it is bizarre. Yes, it may at first seem to strain credulity. But this is the case with murder – it leaves one astonished, even perplexed, especially when the killer’s choice of victims may appear haphazard, the motivation barely comprehensible.

5 stars out of 5
Joan Smith
20 Sep 2020

"(a) magnificent addition to the Strike novels"

A new novel by JK Rowling’s crime-writing alter ego is always an event. The fifth volume in her bestselling Cormoran Strike series is a heavyweight in every sense, unrolling the latest case of her mercurial private detective over 927 pages. At such length, there could easily be longueurs, moments when the plot is held up by the author’s intense engagement with the characters, yet the story is injected with a powerful sense of urgency. That’s even more impressive when you realise that the case Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, are investigating is 40 years old, dating back to the evening in 1974 when a young GP walked out of her practice and disappeared.

3 stars out of 5
18 Sep 2020

"an intricately tangled doorstopper"

Brilliantly brought to life on-screen by Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger in the BBC1 adaptations, Strike and Robin’s personal narratives benefit from the depth and sparkle of the pair’s on-screen portrayal. I am lukewarm about the will-they/won’t they tension, and wonder whether the author feels, as her characters do, that getting together risks ruining a good thing. Both seem to end this story in less self-destructive states than at the beginning, though not without some major bumps along the way. Good news for Robin and Strike, but not necessarily for the reader who has taken the journey with them.

4 stars out of 5
Barry Forshaw
16 Sep 2020

"Those wishing to immerse themselves again in her seductive world of criminality will have no complaints"

Rowling/Galbraith is well aware that the unresolved sexual tension between her detectives is an element relished by readers, and that’s channelled here as Robin, in the throes of a chaotic divorce, tries to identify what she feels about Strike (Robin is the recipient of some unwanted male attention – not from Strike – and there is a critique of toxic masculinity here).

But while the earlier books have been weighty enough, this one really is an epic exploration of the kind of case Christie and Chandler dispensed in a fraction of the length. Still, there’s no denying the fact that Strike’s creator justifies the inflation with rigour and intelligence, and she makes the most of her English settings, such as the bracing (if past-its-prime) seaside town of Skegness.

Those wishing to immerse themselves again in her seductive world of criminality will have no complaints.

4 stars out of 5
Clare Clark
15 Sep 2020

"Strike and Ellacott... remain one of crime fiction’s most engaging duos. "

A scrupulous plotter and master of misdirection, Galbraith keeps the pages turning but, while much of Troubled Blood is terrific fun, it is hardly a hair-raising ride. With jeopardy thin on the ground, the languid pace and the elderliness of the mystery (and indeed most of the suspects caught up in it) combine to give the enterprise the unthreateningly cosy air of old-fashioned Sunday night TV drama. When the denouement finally comes, it is not quite satisfying enough to justify the page count.

Strike and Ellacott, however, remain one of crime fiction’s most engaging duos. 

3 stars out of 5
Jake Kerridge
13 Sep 2020

" pleasant reading though it is, there’s little here to justify the book being twice as long as the early Strike novels"

Rowling/Galbraith always writes well about her characters’ personal lives, although there is nothing here that quite matches her superbly well-observed portrait of the breakdown of Robin’s marriage in the last book. Nevertheless, Rowling’s recent revelation that she was sexually assaulted as a young woman adds an extra poignancy to her depiction of how Robin’s similar experiences drive her desire to help life’s victims. The meat of the book is the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer.