The Running Grave
34 hrs, 13 mins
Published Sept 26, 2023
This is book seven in the Cormoran Strike detective series by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. After the innovative format of the last one (The Ink-black Heart) this returns to a more conventional structure, but once more delivers a complex and absorbing, if overly long, mystery.
This one has Robin going undercover in a sinister cult to try and extract the son of a wealthy businessman. As with the last two, we listened to the audiobook in the car, and both enjoyed it, apart from the difficulties keeping track of who all the various minor characters were. Essentially, if you’ve loved the previous books, you won’t be disappointed here. If you haven’t read them, you should definitely start at the beginning of the series – it’s not that this wouldn’t work as a stand-alone, but it’s the slowly evolving relationship between Robin and Strike that sets this series apart, and you’d miss out on too much of history between them.
I enjoyed this immensely, despite feeling perpetually stressed about Robin placing herself in hideous danger in her never-ending quest to prove herself to Strike as an investigator, especially given her history as a rape survivor. While I knew that JKR wouldn’t, couldn’t surely, have anything too awful happen to her, the starvation, brainwashing and sexual grooming that begin as soon as she arrives at the farm were deeply uncomfortable to hear about. Meanwhile we follow Strike’s activities on the outside as he struggles to juggle his agency’s caseload with limited and sometimes unreliable staffing, calls from his increasingly desperate ex Charlotte, pursuit by a predatory barracuda, sorry barrister, and the needs of his complicated extended family – not to mention his fears for Robin, having finally admitted his feelings for her to himself.
While I think this would’ve been easier for me to read in text rather than audio format, the narration by Robert Glenister is so good that I have no regrets; the paperback is going round my book club, so I should get the opportunity for a re-read – last time I certainly found I got a lot more out of the book second time around. As in the last instalment, there are lots of other subplots, like the various surveillance cases so much time is spent on, some of which turn out to be irrelevant padding. Others turn out to be important background, so you still have to pay attention. I liked Cormoran’s emotional evolution in this one – finally! – and that ending, OMG!!