Mr. Azmuth is the creator of the Omnitrix.
When I received my copy of Lethal White last week, it reminded me of Order of Phoenix. I was 16 years old when I read Order of Phoenix and oh man, was I tired after reading all night long. The fourth part of the Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White is also excessively long (JKR did it again) but don't let that put you off as I found it the best of the CS books.
This review contains spoilers. You have been warned.
Picking up directly from where Career of Evil left off, the novel shows Strike and his former assistant turned salaried partner Robin falling into an uneasy rhythm following her marriage. This is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Billy, a highly disturbed young man who comes bearing tales of child murder, before leaving as quickly and loudly as he came.
The events of Lethal White take place during those Olympics, creating a pleasant double effect of a fictional world, written by Robert Galbraith, operating within the timeframes of a real world that includes authorial alter ego J.K. Rowling. Galbraith/Rowling revealed the title a year ago; I wondered, idly, if the central crimes of the book would have something to do with drugs, perhaps. Turns out that they don’t, and “lethal white” means something different. Does “lethal white” also refer to the United Kingdom’s brutal, race-inflected imperialist history? A little bit, yes, in a background but ever-present sort of way.
With Billy now disappeared, and no real motive to investigate his claims, Strike takes the case of the foppish politician Jasper Chiswell, nicknamed ‘Chizzle’, who is being blackmailed. Keen to avoid divulging what he is being blackmailed about, the Minister commissions Strike and his agency, which now includes several employees, to obtain information he can use against his blackmailers, who, incidentally, include Billy’s older brother Jimmy.
While the 2012 Olympics takes London by storm, the case quickly descends into almost comical absurdity, with Strike and Robin pursuing multiple lines of enquiry, many of which revolve around Chiswell and his laughably posh family. One of the problems I find with Rowling’s Strike series is that I am always unsure if she realises that she crossed the invisible line between light-hearted satire and full-on ridiculousness which is present in all crime fiction.
After all, her protagonist does, on several occasions, mention how posh and out-of-touch his client and his family are, even at one point referring to them as teletubbies, but the reader remains baffled throughout by the intensity of their otherness and the fact that none of them seem to realise how incredibly self-incriminating they are being.
In this latest outing as in all the previous, Strike remains a mess of contradictions. Although Rowling goes to great pains to make him out to be a mess of a man who she describes on numerous occasions as ‘classless’, he also shown to be more at home in a swanky pub in Mayfair than among normal people. He is often slovenly and unkempt himself, yet he judges a young woman for having painted eyeliner over a piece of sleep in the corner of her eye.
The character also mentally derides his latest temporary secretary for not remembering that he detests milky tea despite the fact that he himself is completely incapable of thinking of the feelings of others, even crashing his colleague’s wedding and taking out her flowers in the prologue. Rowling either drastically underestimates the intelligence of her readers or she is unaware of how characterisation works, but either way, the result is the same; a protagonist with all of the sincerity of a Tory election promise.
Then, of course, there is the question of length. I don’t know if you’ve been to Waterstones lately to check it out, but this book is HUGE. In hardback it is over 600 pages long, although a good 300 of these are completely unnecessary. Rowling gets so bogged-down in the minutiae of surveillance and the day-to-day running of a detective agency that she lets her narrative run away from her, and spends fruitless chapters describing the perfectly mundane. There are also far too many needless characters, leaving the reader struggling to keep up with who’s who and what’s what.
Named after the colloquial term for a horse that is doomed to die due to a genetic condition, the one thing that Lethal White does have going for it is its foreshadowing. Rowling is able to skilfully direct her readers where she wants them to, and at times it is intriguing to realise where a certain detail came into play previously. Each chapter begins with a line from Rosmersholm, a play by Henrik Ibsen, which focuses on a time of political change and the emergence of a new order, a metaphor for the downfall of the Chiswells, whose gilded life is quickly disintegrating as the case develops.
There is also some great skill shown in Rowling’s depictions of her disgustingly upper class characters, particularly Jasper Chiswell. There is one scene, in which he is chewing with his mouth open, and he spits a piece of potato at Strike, which is so vivid that I physically reacted (the poor chap on the train next to me thought I was mental, but there you have it).
These brilliant, emotive stretches of text are interspersed with a lot of waffle, but there is some narrative excellence. Robin and Strike’s relationship is brilliantly handled, and it is great that their strange passion for each other does not overwhelm the main plot.
All in all, Lethal White remains by far the best of the Strike novels, although it is, fundamentally, too bloody long and at times completely absurd. Hard-core Rowling fans will love it; anyone else is better off elsewhere.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
I usually buy my books from local shops but recently I have been buying them online because I am lazy haha. My goto online bookstore is now Bonpaper after having the worst ever experience from Liberty bookstore.
Career of Evil Review
I felt the last book was really building to some relationship drama between Strike and Robin and this book did not disappoint! The killer involved was a great mystery as well. I was guessing the whole time who the guy could be and I was even questioning men like Wardle because I knew it would be someone we’d already met and I wanted to be ahead of Strike for once. I’d written the real killer off a long time before for similar reasons to Robin, but I really enjoyed figuring out what was going on.
The one thing that confuses me in the whole book is Robin and Matthew’s relationship. I don’t get why she keeps going back to him. Honestly, I don’t know if I could if my husband was as terrible as Matthew. Other than that, I loved the characters even more than in the last book and I can’t wait to see what Galbraith does with them from here. It’s going to be a very different dynamic in their relationship now.
I adore Robin. I love her even more now that she’s talked about his history a little more. She’s a very strong character and I feel like she’s finally learning how to be strong on her own because of her job with Strike. Again, if she hadn’t stuck with Matthew, I think I’d like her more, but I can see how she’d want to continue with the relationship. In all honesty, it was the easier decision. I hope that’s not why she did it, though.
I related to Robin more than I’d like to admit, but in a way that I think most married people can. I got cold feet for a bit during my engagement. There, I said it! I was 23 and getting married to someone I’d known since I was 14. I don’t think it’s unusual to second guess a life-changing decision for a minute before you make it and I know my husband and I had a few conversations that helped me feel reassured we were making the right decision. Though we had nothing as big as Robin and Matthew’s trust issues to deal with, yikes!
The investigation of the three men was great, but I really enjoyed the chapters from the killer’s point of view. It helped me guess along which was fun. One of the complaints I’ve had with this series is that you can’t try to figure out the murderer along with Strike because some things are kept from the reader. Having the chapters from his view helped me feel closer to the answer and once it was revealed, I felt like I should have figured it out! Not from Strike’s evidence but from something in one of those chapters. I thought this was a good addition to the book structure.
I’m repeating this a lot, but Robin staying with Matthew kind of bothered me. She’s strong and gutsy in work, but it doesn’t carry over into her personal life and it frustrates me. I wonder if this will start to develop going forward in the series. She seems a bit committed at this point, though!
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Robert Glenister, the same man who narrated the first two books in the series. I think he does a great job with the books. He easily slips into an American accent when needed and I think (though I’m no expert) he does different accents for the British characters depending on where they’re from. None of it seems oddly forced and I really enjoyed listening to him read this book!
Robin’s revelation about her past was a big part of her character development in this book. I liked what Galbraith was saying about Robin being seen as more than the victim of her circumstances. Knowing that Rowling is a feminist and rather outspoken, this was a consistent message with what I know of her. Robin didn’t talk about what happened to her because she was seen as a victim and some saw her as inviting what happened to her. I think that happens a lot with rape victims and I think Rowling addressed what Robin went through well.
Writer’s Takeaway: I can’t get over how much I liked the chapters from the killer’s point of view! It added just enough dramatic irony that I stayed more engaged than I otherwise would have. For these hard-to-solve mysteries, it was great. Especially because the clue that gave it all away was something I, as an American, would never have picked up on.
I enjoyed this story a lot and I’m now eagerly anticipating the fourth installment. Five out of Five stars.
I bought these from Bonpaper and I couldn't put my hands off them. The books are so good. Hats off to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for bringing up this master piece.
"AM I NOT MERCIFUL?"
This book was epic. Epic, I tell you!
I'm a huge sci-fi fan. As I've mentioned a hundred times over, that stuff is my shit. (Which is why I have filled this review with completely irrelevant Doctor Who gifs, and only Doctor Who gifs. You're welcome.)
I think you know the drill by now: I warn the reader of the sheer multitude of gifs and fangirling coming their way, state more than once that "this is not a review, but more of a mess of my thoughts", et cetera, et cetera.
Illuminae had everything I loved: brilliant storytelling, lovable characters, and a chilling, captivating plot.
"Nothing ceases to exist. Energy does not perish, it merely changes forms. The ones you love, the ones you lose, they still exist as long as the cosmos does."
The main reason I bought this book was because of how hyped it was on Booktube, and how fucking glorious the cover is. It's okay to judge a book by it's cover in this case. I was not disappointed.
The characters were absolutely hilarious. One second I was stressing over the fate of the Alexander and the next:
Also, my friend here is wondering about the survivors lists becauseASDLKDGFKNDFGJBE MORE SUBTLE KADY LIKE A BRICK WHY DON'T YOU?"
"McNulty, J, Sgt: and if that works
McNulty, J, Sgt: u must name ur first kid james in my honour
Mason, E, LT, 2nd: >_>
McNulty, J, Sgt: if it's a daugher u name it jamette
Mason, E, LT, 2nd: 0_o"
"It's obvious he's got no ****ing idea what he's about - I mean, 'is in-experienced in matters of computer espionage.' (Shut up, I'm being professional.)"
Funnily enough, the writing style I loathed in Firstlife, I adored in Illuminae. It fit much better with the formatting, and didn't seem unnecessarily forced.
There were plenty of fantastic characters but my favourite had to be AIDAN. Yeah. The sociopathic artificial intelligence is my favourite character, and I don't know what that says about me. His It's scenes and back-and-forth with Kady was brilliant.
AIDAN: "'DURING THE...INCIDENT... AFTERWARD, NONE OF THE MEAT HAD THE PRESCENE OF MIND TO RESTORE THE SYSTEMS DOWN THERE.'
Kady: 'The meat? The incident? That's what you're calling them?'
AIDAN: 'CALL THEM SOMETHING ELSE IF YOU WISH.'
Kady: 'People aren't just ****ing meat. And killing hundreds of them wasn't an incident. It was a massacre.'
AIDAN: 'IT WAS ALSO A NECESSITY.'
Kady: 'I've heard this song before.'
AIDAN: 'I WONDER, THEN, WHY YOU KEEP ASKING ME TO SING IT?'"
Illuminae: Now run.
One of the few sombre books I cannot seem to put down.