I just finished The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith and I have come up for air. It's had a huge impact on me. I am guttered I have finished it but don't crave for the next instalment in the Strike and Robin series just yet. Recovery is on the menu first, and I mean that in the best possible way. I can't even move on to the next book on my reading list before I have digested all that's happened. So I decided to blog about it, hoping that might help. This number one world bestseller does not need my help, but for those of you who haven't read the series yet, do! Don't worry about spoilers here, I am a no-spoilers-book blogger.
Private Detective Cormoran Strike is contacted by a worried father whose son, Will, has gone to join a religious cult in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.
The Universal Humanitarian Church is, on the surface, a peaceable organisation that campaigns for a better world. Yet Strike discovers that beneath the surface there are deeply sinister undertones, and unexplained deaths.
In order to try to rescue Will, Strike's business partner Robin Ellacott decides to infiltrate the cult and she travels to Norfolk to live incognito amongst them. But in doing so, she is unprepared for the dangers that await her there or for the toll it will take on her...
When I was still in the midst of Robin's drama, I took a breather and scrolled through some reviews on Good Reads, the ones without the spoilers of course.
I was intrigued when someone said they had been very worried for Robin throughout the book, because so was I. Very much so. But someone had reacted to this person with the curt words: "LOL! You do know that Robin is just a creature of your imagination don't you?" And that just denies the whole point of reading, of watching a great movie, of course the characters are real to you when you read a book or watch a film. Otherwise, what is the point? Robert Galbraith is the master of creating vivid characters that are very human and you get to know how their minds work and what they think. And yes, you do come to think of them as your friends, nothing wrong with that!
I loved hearing people telling me they had to laugh when reading my own book My name is Wilma, but for me the biggest complement was that readers had been so into the story that they had had to cry.
What made the suspense so big this time, I think, was Robert Glennister's fabulous calm reading. I thought his voice sounded familiar and learnt that he had been Nicholas Blake in my favourite spy drama series Spooks (2006–2010). You can read an interview with him about his voice work for the series on the Robert Galbraith website. He does the best voice for Strike. When I mentioned I was listening to the audiobook on the Robert Galbraith facebook group, someone said they always listened to Robert Glenister's audiobooks and could no longer watch the tv-series... I so hope I don't have that same problem now -- other than that I'd recommend the audiobooks to anyone.
After reading the book, I watched an interview with Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling. In it she answers 20 questions about the book (without giving away anything major). I am in such awe of this author who already had planned this story when the first Strike and Robin novel had been printed.
The early planning has meant she could lead up to this momentous instalment. I found myself nodding along to some of her answers. Yes, Robin does come into her own in this book. She was always a force to be reckoned with but this time...
"I don't think I could have done what Robin did ," says Galbraith/Rowling in the interview. I totally agree. What Robin takes on, is enormous and I often felt very worried for her.
Love on the wall
Robin and Strike are still a 'thing' waiting to happen throughout the book. I am not giving anything away here. As the author says in mentioned interview, they become much closer in this book because for a large period they are so far apart. So intriguing!
What I also loved was that all the chapters start with a hexagram from the I Tjing, that good old book of change I had long forgotten about. My friends and I devoured it when we were young in the eighties. Not that I ever understood it. I still don't to be honest but the hexagram quotes build a sense of anticipation of what's going to occur.
If you have never read a book from this series, I'd thoroughly suggest you start with the first one The Cuckoo's Nest!
Oh lucky you! Six divine fat books to enjoy, and then there's this one. I myself am getting the last book for my Christmas break, and look forward to savouring it all over again, reading instead of listening this time.
Have you read The Running Grave? Or did you listen to The Running Grave like I did? What did you think? Drop me a line in the comments below.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!