1 October 2022 Susannah

The Ink Black Heart

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Gailbraith

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.

Have you read The Ink Black Heart or any other in the Cormoran Strike series? Have you see the screen adaptations? If so, do let me know in a comment.

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Featured image- The Ink Black Heart by Robert Gailbraith. Bookcover from https://www.amazon.fr/Ink-Black-Heart-Robert-Galbraith/dp/0751584185, J.K.Rowling image from https://mobile.twitter.com/PopCrave/status/1564913682269839360/photo/1

Comments (22)

  1. Julia

    I could not agree more. The chat, ugh. Very difficult to read. And too small letters. Dull even.
    I understand the author tries to do something modern perhaps, but many readers like me were born before the internet and we expect a proper novel from her. Disappointed.
    I am glad to know that many of Strike fans have the same feeling.
    Hopefully the next book will not have this style.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I believe she has a new Strike book coming out soon. I certainly hope it is easier to read than the last one was.

  2. Robyn

    Totally agree. Now she’s had a chance to vent about the trolls, hopefully the next book will get back to what she does best. Those pages of chat columns drove me barmy 😫

    • Susannah Fullerton

      You’d think it must also have been tedious to write all those on-line chats.

  3. Carolyn

    Good morning Susannah, I’m on a waiting list at my local library for “The Ink Black Heart” but after reading your comments, and those of other readers, am wondering now if I should try the audio version. I’ve really enjoyed the previous books in this series, to the extent where once I start one, I can’t put it down, so it’s disappointing to think that this latest book is not up to J.K. Rowling’s (or should I say Robert Galbraith’s) usual high standard. Still, as with the other comments, I’d like to know how the relationship between Strike and Robin progresses so will continue with the series. Am also wondering if the more recent books will be made into TV dramas – I did enjoy the televised versions of the first three books.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Like you, I have loved the other books in the series and still want to keep reaidng to find out what happens between Robin adn Strike, so I hope the enxt book is an improvement. I think they have given up on the TV series, which is a pity.

  4. Carolyn Cossgrove

    Agree with you Susannah, it was very hard to get used to the online chat columns and is probably my least fave in the series. I also listened to it on Audible after reading a hard copy and did find it a bit easier. I felt a bit let down that there was no real progress in the Strike/Robin relationship…it’s positively glacial!! 1012 pages is still good value for money.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, it was certainly long and I’d have liked something a bit more definite to happen between Robin and Strike. I will keep reading the series and hope it improves after this one. I see many of the reviews are not positive, so hopefully she will realise that those online conversations do not appeal to many of her readers.

  5. Gabrielle Keating

    I have to agree with your comments about this book. I’m about half way through it and I find the online chatter etc very difficult to follow and I’m finding it is difficult to get a grip on who is who with the various characters. The general toxic nature of comments is very disturbing and I do now understand how awful online harassment can be. However I am enjoying the frission between Strike and Robin and will certainly finish the book. I agree that this is not as engaging as her other books, which is disappointing.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, on-line harrassment is all too easy when people can hide behind anonymity. I can understand why JK Rowling wanted to tackle the subject after all the abuse she ahs endured, but M just disappointed that it amde her novel ahrd to read and nowhere near as good as the other books in the series.

  6. Julie

    I am one third of the way through The Ink Black Heart. At first I found the concurrent online chats hard to read, but have found it does show us how the unscrupulous can manipulate people in real time. It is so much easier to do this since the invention of the internet. I am looking forward to the rest of the book and am interested to see where it heads.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It is so easy now for people to say horrible things, when they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet. I didn’t hate the novel and felt she made some good points and I love the progress of the relationships between Strike and Robin, but I did feel it was the poorest book in the series so far.

  7. Jill

    I agree entirely with your comments about The Ink Black Heart.Also, the many references to the main characters ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship undermines the drama.It’s a bit pedestrian compared to the previous excellent Strike books.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I think she needs to move the relationship on a bit more quickly than she has done. I will continue to read the series because I want to find out what happens to them, and I have loved the books except for this latest one.

  8. Margy

    I’m just starting the series and from your review and the comments won’t worry about this book when I eventually get to it. Saying that though, do you think there any elements/plot lines in it that we’ll need for the next one?

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have loved the series and am intrigued by the developing relationship between the main characters, but this latest was the poorest in the series. However, I am in hope it will improve again with the next book, so I’d say you do need to read this one to keep up with where the relationship is at.

  9. Jenny Chapman

    I was disappointed too but found the audible book better once I had got used to the ‘chat’.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I did wonder if audible might make it a better read. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. Dee Selkirk

    My husband has just finished Ink Black Heart and like you was very disappointed in it. I am halfway through Troubled Blood and loving it. Again like you the plot is well written and I also love the London setting.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I thought Troubled Blood was her best in the series, but sadly The Ink Black Heart is her worst.

  11. Jan

    I was really looking forward to this book. I have read the others and couldn’t put them down. This one I have put down permanently. It was difficult to read and not very exciting. All the ‘texts’ were confusing. Not a good read for me.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, all the texts made for confusing and rather repetitive reading. I have loved the other books in the series and also the film versions, but this one was a let-down.

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