Almost three years after the publication of ‘Career of Evil’ (book three in the Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott series), ‘Lethal White’ has been characterised by the Independent as ‘exciting and engaging reading‘ and congratulated by The Guardian as a piece of ‘highly inventive storytelling‘. Whilst Galbraith once again delivered a novel to occupy the minds where readers could follow the beloved Strike and Robin on more threatening and thrilling adventures, there are reservations in the praise of ‘Lethal White’, such as the readers becoming ‘detached from what might be at the heart of this novel‘ through a rather slow-moving plot.
Anyone who is reading this review and happens to be a regular on my blog will know how enjoyable, exciting and admirable I find the Galbraith series for everything they provide for me as a lover of crime writing. I bought Galbraith’s latest novel on the day of its release and loved delving into the newest excursions that Strike and Robin embarked upon. After the intense revulsion and skin-crawling descriptions of the last novel – ‘Career of Evil’ – I believe ‘Lethal White’ was a necessary and well-received section of the wider story for our wonderful crime duo.
After the end of the previous novel, the opening of ‘Lethal White’ was an appreciated – and necessary – reconciliation between Strike and Robin after we left their rather fractured relationship and could only hope for a happier future for the pair of them. The novel already feels less shocking from the start and this was, at first, a relief to me. Although I love the blood, gore, suspense and despair of a wonderful crime novel, Galbraith encourages his readers to feel the emotions of the characters within the story; we end up caring greatly for the fate of the characters rather than simply for the story our author provides (although this is still of utmost importance, of course). I was therefore content in the knowledge that our two protagonists were, for the most part, on the same page once more (no pun intended).
However, after this rather comfortable beginning to the novel, the first chapter felt a little mundane. After so much tension and trepidation following ‘Career of Evil’, the story that was being delivered felt a little dry at times. With such an admiration for Galbraith’s work, I felt myself yearning for the outstanding description and mind-blowing events that I know he is capable of. This impressive description is, thankfully, more prominent as the novel progresses. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the comical characterisation of Denise. Whilst I found her incredibly bothersome, I had no problem picturing her as a real person and Galbraith did a very good job of creating a vivid image through this character.
As I continued to read, and I write this regrettably, there were several further issues I encountered. Whilst I welcomed the reconciliation between Robin and Strike at the very beginning of the novel, I felt that more time was spent on their potential love interest than was necessary. During moments where I was hoping for discreet dropping of clues, new suspects and eerie descriptions, the relationship of the two (albeit wonderfully fascinating) protagonists took priority. This novel just didn’t seem to have quite the same pull as Galbraith’s other excellent novels.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the latest Galbraith novel for everything it did have to offer and will continue to read these novels for as long as they are published. I, as I’m sure is the case for many others, will return to the Robert Galbraith series for the wonderful protagonists and the journeys they take us on, even if the novels as pieces of crime writing, fall short at times.