The Ink Black Heart is the 6th in the PI Cormoran Strike series by author Robert Galbraith; none other than JK Rowling!

Although I enjoyed the movies, having never read the Harry Potter series, I cannot compare literary styles. (In an interview, Rawlings indicates that she writes differently as Galbraith because of the genre of her Cormoran Strike books.)

At 1,012 pages, The Ink Black Heart is a long book. (The Potters range from 310-870 pages.) Unfortunately, it also feels like a long book. Barely at the 300 page mark it was becoming tedious. It was daunting that there were still another 700 to go!

The Ink Black Heart starts off engagingly enough.

The busy detective agency run by business partners Cornoran Stike and Robin Ellacott is approached by a discheveled woman named Edie Ledwell, the co-creator of a popular animation called The Ink Black Heart. Edie is being harrassed. She is concerned about her welfare, but she leaves unaided when the agency cannot take her case.

She is soon found dead in Highgate Cemetery, where the online game takes place. She and her partner Josh Blay have been stabbed. Josh is alive, but badly injured.

Strike and Ellacott are hired by an interested party to discover the identity of an onlline presence named Anomie who may be responsible for the attack.

Rowlings or not, it was a chore getting into the format and complexities of The Ink Black Heart. The more conventionaly-written chapters were interesting and engaging, while learning about Strike and Robin’s feelings, thought processes and interactions, however, since we were set up for it at the beginning, I was hoping for more drama and romantic tension.

Frequent sections of chats or tweets culled some reading time, but although they resembled real life, I found columns of anonymous handles, occasional inside language and general comments, often dull, annoying and difficult to follow.
The personalities and connections between the chat rooms’ occupants do take shape.

As the plot evolves, multiple suspects based on rivalries, racism, sexism and connections to a Neo-Nazi group emerge, along with other contemporary controversial topics.

When I reached page 444, reading was already tedious. With a mere 568 pages to go, I just couldn’t continue. For the first time in my reviewing history, I stopped and instead read the more satisfying last two chapters to see how The Ink Black Heart wrapped up.

I enjoyed the ending and that the agency adventures will continue with some new and interesting developments.
To be fair, the subject matter of The Ink Black Heart is not my forte. Nor is the chat style.

I may have enjoyed the book if I’d had previous experience with the main characters, or if the case they were investigating had been completely different.

The author certainly delves into enough detail for this book to stand alone, but perhaps another Strike and Ellacott novel would have been a better introduction to the series.

The Ink Black Heart
A Cormorant Strike novel
Robert Galbraith
Mulholland Books 2022
1024 pages

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