I have just finished reading The Ink Black Heart, the sixth book in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series. The first book in the series was published in 2013 and it sold a small number of copies and gained good reviews. Then a journalist revealed that the author was J.K. Rowling and sales soared. I have enjoyed the series and also the TV dramas made from the first three books, and I thought the fifth book, Troubled Blood, was especially good. I like the complicated relationship between the two detective partners, the London setting, and I think the books are well plotted and written. However, I must admit to feeling let down by the most recent one. The plot was about an on-line fan group and pages and pages of the book were written as on-line chat, all presented in column form, which I found difficult to read and rather dull.
The book is an examination of toxic fandom and shows how truly awful some people can be when tweeting, never actually facing the person they are insulting. Clearly the author has drawn on her own experience of on-line hatred from transgender groups, so you can see where she is coming from and why she wants to make the points she does about internet harassment. Her last novel was most unfairly slated for being transphobic (she briefly had a male character dress as a woman for disguise, so those attacking the book had quite clearly never read it) and in some ways this new novel is her ‘revenge’ on the trolls who attacked her so viciously (and, in my view, so wrongly). I think J.K. Rowling is an amazing woman who has done so much for the world of reading, but sadly, I think the new novel is the poorest book in the series. It is obvious at the end of the book that there will be another Strike book to come, and I look forward to that, but I do wish that The Ink Black Heart had not been a disappointing read.