Book Review: The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith

When frantic, disheveled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The co-creator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.

Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this—and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.

Robin and her business partner, Cormoran Strike, become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways . . .

By the time you reach the sixth in the series you have a pretty good idea of whether you like it or not! There is however always that slight question of – will this live up to the others? I’m very pleased to say that The Ink Black Heart did indeed live up to the expectations set by its predecessors.

We find ourselves once again back in the company of Strike, Robin and their staff, as a multitude of difficult cases, the primary with a slew of people needing to be ruled out and therefore tailed make the agency’s life difficult.

Strike and Robin are also finding themselves in a place of second guessing the others feelings and motivations on a personal level as well – leading to some awkward moments between the pair who are usually so in sync.

Taking on the case of finding out who Anomie – an anonymous online persona who had been systematically bullying Edie for years and who also seems to have insider knowledge of The Ink Black Heart cartoon turns out to be rather more difficult than expected. For the reader it also means we have two separate places this story plays out – online and in person. This adds an extra layer of complexity to the story and it was definitely easier to follow the ins and outs of it in my physical copy than my husband found it with his audio version (excellently read though it was). This also accounts for some of the size of this book.

While the detective agency are doing their usual footwork, Robin is also trying to infiltrate the online game co-created by Anomie to see if she can pick up clues there as well. We as the reader are also privy to some of the online chats in the moderator channel of that game, these can take a bit of focus as often several chats happen simultaneously and are displayed side by side on the page – however for me this helped set the atmosphere of the book which was that there was a lot happening and the agency was struggling for a breakthrough.

Once again Rowling faced a lot of online abuse on the publication of this book – with a lot of noise on Twitter about it being an attack on the trans community , that the main plot was centred around a character murdered after being accused of transphobia – all of which as it turns out was complete and utter nonsense spouted by people who clearly hadn’t read the book. That’s not what this book is about at all – somewhat ironically its about a woman hounded online for years while her male co-collaborator is the darling of the fanbase. Yes Edie is then murdered but the heart of this book is about the online abuse and misogyny women face every day online.

This is as I previously mentioned a book of epic length – however the intricacies of the plot mean that it didn’t feel long when reading it. Indeed having spent a couple of weeks in the company of Robin and Strike I now feel rather bereft without them! Looking forward to the next instalment whenever that may be….

The Ink Black Heart is available now