Strike four: ‘Lethal White’ is a worthy addition to a compelling series

lethal-whit1 Cover of 'Lethal White'

J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, ends the third book of the hugely popular Cormoran Strike series—Career of Evil—on a cliffhanger. What happened after the detective protagonist of the series, Cormoran Strike, crashed the wedding of his temp-turned-partner Robin Ellacott? Will the romantic tension between Cormoran Strike and Ellacott, which Rowling had ratcheted up over the course of the series, resolve to its natural conclusion? Or, would Ellacott marry her fiancé Matthew, with whom Strike was never on cordial terms? Even the first chapter is worth the wait. The question whether Ellacott actually does marry Matthew is answered. It has everything you could ever want—heartbreak, romance, a shocked family, and drama.

The massive popularity of series proves that there is no contemporary writer who can match Rowling when it comes to mustering such excitement, and commanding a cult-like following, especially among adults. It is a series that, despite what reviews claim (usually favourable), will be bought and devoured. More than the story, which Rowling tells compellingly, it is the fix that the readers need. Lethal White lives up to that, though the plot isn’t as taut as the earlier books of the series. But, the characters she creates—so vivid, likeable and certainly unforgettable—keep you hooked.

There is no way that the Strike-Ellacott sub-plot can be pushed to the backburner anymore. The book starts off with their relationship—rendered even more complicated by recent events—which forms the fulcrum of the story. There are mysteries to be solved, too. Strike, who had rose to fame after catching the serial killer Shacklewell Ripper (Career of Evil), is in full media glare. So, when a mysterious, troubled young man named Billy claims that he has seen a child get strangled, it leads Strike and Ellacott on a collision course with yet another high-profile exploit. The book has plots and sub-plots. It is complicated, incomplete, and sometimes, a little confusing. It takes the duo on a journey through London, rural England, and the Parliament. Is it perfect? No book is. But is it satisfying? Can it be anything else?

Lethal White

Author: Robert Galbraith

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: Rs 699