Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough, who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974. As Strike and his partner Robin investigate Margot's disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted.
... a wide-ranging novel filled with enough characters, incidents and alternating story lines to more than justify its exorbitant length ... Troubled Blood’s central mystery is a strong one, and watching it unfold over the course of a protracted investigation is one of the novel’s great pleasures ... The author pays as much attention to the quotidian details of her characters’ lives as she does to the drama at the novel’s heart ... Rowling’s greatest novelistic gifts are her ability to spin wild, intricate plots (witness the astrological elements of this latest book), and to create colorful, highly individual characters who come instantly alive on the page ... Controversies to the side, Rowling remains that rarest of creatures: a natural, supremely confident storyteller.
... a sprawling and eventful saga in which the central cold case shares space with other investigations, along with dramatic incidents in the detectives’ private lives ... Balancing social comedy, surprising twists and Grand Guignol horror, this doorstopping volume proves a formidable entertainment from the first page to the last.
... dismaying is that the cross-dressing psychopath is among the least egregious stereotypes in this deeply troubled new entry in the Cormoran Strike series ... Galbraith/Rowling spends far too much time on the inner workings of office birthday gifts and the inner workings of almost everything else, from the types of biscuits served in witnesses’ homes to Ellacott’s feelings about her brothers’ friends; these are not details that move the plot along. That might be why what could have been a suspenseful mystery congeals into a 900-odd page slog ... It’s the characterizations, however, that sink the story and for the opposite reason: They lack the texture of reality. Creed is a stereotype ... the real abomination in Rowling’s writing is not her treatment of a trans character, at least not in this book. It’s her treatment of most any character Strike and Ellacott meet as they seek the truth about Dr. Bamborough’s fate ... endless pages are clouded by ambivalence ... Does Rowling want to write an interconnected series along the lines of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley books? If so, she could dispense with the caricatured witnesses and focus on Strike and Ellacott’s relationship, which is truly knotty ... amateurish portraits ... Perhaps Rowling should divorce herself from Robert Galbraith, divorce her writing from murder mysteries, and dig deep instead into the things that really matter to her: women (or at least cisgender women) and children. She needn’t, for a second, try to write about things she doesn’t understand and doesn’t care about — unless, of course, she wants to become an artist focused on humanity as a whole, including the people she’s prone to misrepresent.