Top critical review
A significant disappointment
13 October 2018
Previous iterations of the series have had a reasonably strong sense that this is a series focused on Mr Strike as a private detective. The first in the series represented a solid opening with a crime and mystery that was sufficient to carry things along and, as the sub-plot, we had Coromorant and his new assistant finding themselves in something of a mutual attraction and the possibility of romance.
But book four is relationship, morality and pontificating from Ms Rowling who seems to project her opinions on the London Olympics, masculine dismissal of the feminine and every other issue that Ms Rowling seems to have taken to with an ideological and naive passion over the past couple of years gets a thorough outing here. Perhaps along the way she's ready a vocabulary builder because the text, in addition to the moral thumping, seems replete with odd wording that seems more jarring than appropriate. If you want your characters to talk in 'gnomic' statements then that's fine but the choice of wording detracts more than adds to the value of a detective story.
Ms Rowling will continue to be praised because of her previous work but there is nothing here that really strikes as polished or of interest. Had this been written by anyone else I'd say it shows promise and some experience but, from Ms Rowling, it seems a tired addition and justified only on the basis that she will have a ready publisher and audience.
By book 3 Mr Strike seemed at a loss as to what to do next. By this volume it seems his true calling is to find love and retire. Really not worth pursuing and investing your time.