Rowling’s wizardry as a writer is on fulsome display in Lethal White...a behemoth of a novel that flies by in a flash. This is a crime series deeply rooted in the real world, where brutality and ugliness are leavened by the oh-so-human flaws and virtues of Galbraith’s irresistible hero and heroine ... Galbraith can, of course, construct a bang-up mystery plot. But the real addictive tension in this series comes from the push-pull (unspoken) attraction between the gruff Strike, who lost a leg serving in Afghanistan, and Robin ... Galbraith dials back the Stieg Larsson-like depths of depravity we got in (the excellent) Evil, which is a relief. Perhaps less is at stake, mystery-wise, in Lethal White, but Rowling’s signature strengths—her indelible characters, the Dickensian detail and inventiveness (the names alone!), her dry British humor and her empathy toward matters of the heart—have room to bloom.
Lethal White, the fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, is a big, stuffed-to-the-brim, complicated bouillabaisse of a book, not least because of the busy inner lives of its protagonists ... Because Rowling is so straightforwardly liberal, it’s a pleasant surprise to find that Galbraith is an equal-opportunity satirist. He is just as happy to send up the self-righteous anti-capitalists of the left as the clueless twits of the right ... With a mystery this big and baggy, it can be hard to keep track of who has done what and why ... Lethal White is an old-fashioned novel, by which I mean that it is 650 pages long and that few of its protagonists’ activities, emotions and motivations are left to the reader’s imagination ... all of this is exhaustively described and occasionally exhausting to hear ... At times you might feel as you did when reading the Harry Potter books, particularly later in the series, when they got longer and looser. You love the plot, and you love being in the company of the characters ... At the same time, you long for the existence of a sharp garden implement ... a pair of pruning shears.
Even if the world is the seedy underbelly of contemporary London and not magical Hogwarts, cracking the cover of a Galbraith novel is like stepping through a portal. You're immersed, all at once ... It's bleak, and Strike Series fans need to trust that the plot will warm up after the initial icy start ... While the HP [Harry Potter] series had its dark (very dark) moments, Cormoran's line of work puts a spotlight on pedestrian violence—The ugly side of humanity is often on display, desperate and raw. And it can be difficult, sometimes, to find any semblance of saving grace. It's there, but it's buried ... Despite Lethal White's slower moments, Galbraith does have an excellent sense of the reader's attention span. Whenever the plot threatens to slow to a dangerously plodding pace, Galbraith throws in a clue, opens up a door. And he draws you back in.
As ever, the byplay between Galbraith's classic, Agatha Christie-inspired plotting and flighty characters on the one hand and such contemporary details as the rampant use of the F-word, text messages and Kanye West creates an enjoyable floating time feel. With its subtle treatment of politics, class warfare and displacement, this is a book that essentially could be set at any time during the past hundred years. But while the complicated plot is admirably well-constructed, Lethal White lacks the narrative juice of past installments in the series. For all its twists and turns, you never really get caught up in the mystery, which never seems to matter as much as the star-crossed feelings that Strike and Robin have for each other. ... Robin reveals herself to be quite good at skullduggery in the halls of power and at the art of disguise (love the chalked hair). But having seen her make such striking personal advances in Career of Evil, it's disappointing to see her take two steps back here. She spends way too much time rationalizing her bad marriage. And on the job, Strike is the one who comes up with all the big insights ... Here's hoping that in her next adventure, Robin leaves behind idle-hood in all good ways.
At nearly 650 pages, it’s a big book and it certainly doesn’t lack ambition ... Strike is a wonderfully complex creature, with just the right balance of contradictions to guide us through this labyrinthine world ... He’s one of those lost souls who joined the army in search of family, an outsider who knows the belly of the beast. And the time taken in describing the day-to-day workings of his craft ensures that he’s plausible enough in his occupation ... But one suspects that Galbraith might have been a little more rigorously edited were he not the alter ego of our most successful living writer. The central murder doesn’t happen until nearly 300 pages in; while the slow burn to the plot shows admirable restraint, all the detail—the exposition and the setups that hint at withheld information—creates a sense of inertia. The sentence structure is more soft-boiled than hard-boiled ... There is a discursive delight in many meticulously descriptive passages, but they keep us detached from what might be at the heart of this novel ... Strike is richly drawn, Robin is a little on the dull side ... whereas each flaw of Strike is lovingly detailed, all the women who fall for his rough charm (and there are a great many) are predictably conventional in their attractiveness ... Nevertheless, the Galbraith/Rowling persona does make for highly inventive storytelling and there is much here for mystery fans to enjoy. So many twists, turns, false leads and red herrings: seldom has a denouement been more worthy of its original meaning, literally the 'unknotting.'
The...trail of clues is complicated and messy, involving a Tory government minister and his family, blackmail, murder, PTSD, British class distinctions, disintegrating marriages, crumbling fortunes—and the fatal temptation of a fortune to be regained. Galbraith is good at sprinkling distractions while also playing fair with the reader. Although this is the longest Strike novel at a hefty, Potteresque 647 pages, Robert Galbraith knows how to tell a story every bit as deftly as does J.K. Rowling. Cormoran Strike, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, may limp painfully through much of the book, but the tale being told never misses a step.
As the mystery elements of Lethal White wind themselves into ever more tangled knots, so the romantic side of the plot also unspools ... part of the joy of reading this book is watching the will-they-won’t-they dance ... Lethal White is too long, and too complicated, but there is sharp social comedy to be found here ... this is the sort of gulp it down, obsessive reading experience that is reminiscent of her previous series.
The plot of Lethal White, set in 2012 while London was hosting the Summer Olympics, is much too richly convoluted to do justice to it here ... In the end, when the author attempts to connect the dots, the picture is a little blurry. But the pleasure for many readers will be the journey with Strike and Robin, even if the destination isn’t clear.
A sense of impending doom hangs over the book ... Strike and Robin are chronically unable to express their feelings for each other ... In the hands of a less accomplished writer, the relationship between these two might unbalance the rest of the novel. But Galbraith never forgets that Lethal White is crime fiction, unfolding a labyrinthine plot with its origins in the basest human emotions ... The tone of the novel is tragi-comic, but simmering underneath is a commentary on the way male violence is tolerated. Strike is Galbraith/Rowling’s exemplar of a decent but damaged man, struggling to overcome his own worst instincts. It’s a blistering piece of crime writing, but a great deal more than that, bringing to the genre the serious purpose of popular Victorian fiction.
Under her Galbraith pseudonym, J.K. Rowling impressively sustains suspense over the course of a lengthy mystery ... Rowling's emotionally intelligent portrayal of her protagonists never overwhelms the whodunit story line.
Lethal White, the fourth Cormoran Strike mystery novel by Robert Galbraith—a pen name for J.K. Rowling—begins in the year 2012. England is making final preparations to host the Olympic Games, and the 37-year-old Strike, thanks to his recent capture of a killer known as 'the Shacklewell Ripper,' is now 'the best-known private detective in London.' ... Lethal White...amounts to a gripping thriller, which tussles not just with criminality but morality.
J.K. Rowling has moved on to more grown-up endeavors with her gritty, pseudonymous Galbraith mystery series, and I for one am cheering the coincidental (?) arrival this month of Lethal White, the fourth book starring the dynamic detective duo of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott ... this is a crime series deeply rooted in the real world, where brutality and ugliness are leavened by the oh-so-human flaws and virtues of Galbraith’s irresistible hero and heroine ... Rowling’s wizardry as a writer is on abundant display in 'Lethal White'.
Rowling keeps many balls up in the air—perhaps too many considering the dead body that gets the book off the ground doesn’t show up until page 281. There are still another 366 pages to go, and much of that length is a slog. Robin, who can be a great character, spends way too much time wondering what to do about her personal life—for the fourth book in a row. The mystery itself is complex, which is good, verging on convoluted, which is not. There are pleasures to be had, as in Rowling’s jokes on her uber-posh characters ... But there’s way too much filler in between. Let’s hope Rowling’s next book is sharper and shorter.