An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling on Why I DNF Troubled Blood

Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike, #5)

Dear Ms. Rowling,

I’ve been a fan of yours since the earliest days of the Harry Potter franchise, reading everything you’ve written — yes, I even waded through all of The Casual Vacancy. And I appreciate that you want to write a more “adult” mystery series under a pen name. I’ve read and enjoyed each of the previous installments of the Cormoran Strike series, though I have to admit each one has come with diminishing interest. That could be that each volume in the series seems to have grown in length over time.

I’m not necessarily complaining about investing my time and attention into a longer mystery story. I’ve read everything Elizabeth George has written and loved just about every second of it — yes, even that one in the S&M club that a lot of fans tend to place low on the list of favorites.

But, I have to confess that when it comes to the latest Strike book, Troubled Blood, I’ve had a difficult time becoming and then staying invested. Like George’s books, I look forward to checking in on the latest developments in the lives of your detective protagonists. But, in between the checking in on my old friends, I’d like there to be some kind of mystery and/or investigation going on. And after two-hundred and fifty pages of this tome, I’m starting to feel like you forgot that crucial element of the mystery novel.

I get that Strike and Robyn are taking on a cold case and it’s not going to be nearly as exciting as following-up on a recently committed crime. But, hey, my guy Michael Connelly has turned his protagonist Harry Bosch into a cold-case investigator and I’ve been able to not only enjoy those books but also stay engaged with them. Honestly, there are only so many times I can hear the internal monologue from Strike or Robyn about being attracted to each other but not acting on it before I want to fling the book aside in frustration. (Not that this would be easy to do mind you because this thing weighs in 900 plus pages).

I know that you’ve taken a lot of heat over some of the elements of the mystery — and I’d love to say I saw what all the controversy was about and could form my own opinion. Certainly in the quarter of the novel I did read, I saw elements creeping in that bothered me a bit but, again, I couldn’t finish this one, so I can’t speak to whether the allegations are valid or not.

And to be honest, I was so underinvested in this one that I just couldn’t even bring myself to skim it to find out.

Part of me wants to know if and when Robyn and Strike will or should act on their simmering attraction to each other. But that wasn’t quite enough to continue to invest effort into a book that I found tedious and without a significant hook.

In fact, it makes me sort of feel like I may be done with this series unless the next installment shows evidence of better editing. And before you get started, let me also point out that Stephen King, one of the biggest selling writers in history, has repeatedly stated that his books got better when he found a publisher who wasn’t afraid to edit him.


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