The Running Grave (Cormoran Strike #7) by Robert Galbraith #BookReview #MysteryThriller #DetectiveFiction #Crime
“I admit the possibility” — the words that somehow embody the spirit of human beings, irrespective of the kind of belief that drives you, irrespective of the fact that you can be an atheist or a skeptic, there comes a time in everyone’s life that you want to hold on to something, some kind of HOPE to live on.
JK Rowling is a stellar storyteller, and I don’t mean that just coz of her massive success through Harry Potter but simply for the fact that she created this masterpiece of a story, an investigative thriller around a CULT. Of course, there are countless books out there on this subject but to construct something so rooted in the 21st century and make it appealing to anyone who hears about the church across all age groups, is just mind blowing.
The Universal Humanitarian Church at first glance is just that, a service based group committed to doing good for the world and the author’s masterclass touch includes Hinduism and the symbolic use of LOTUS and the chants that I am so used to hearing around me honestly gave me the shivers which kind of reinforces the belief that I have always had, that it doesn’t matter how sane one is, sucked into a vortex like a cult, there would be never an escape.
The investigation begins with the Edensor family wanting their youngest son Will out of the Chapman farm and Robin being an expert in disguise, goes undercover as Rowena to unearth the skeletons hidden in the church. And this raises the tension to a crescendo as Robin to her horror undergoes physical and mental exhaustion and terrifying and traumatic experiences within the confines of the farm. I loved how the author explores Robin’s psyche showing her chanting the ‘Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu’ and her partial indoctrination and her mental strength to hold on to thoughts of Strike and his reactions to regain her sanity. The mystery of the drowned girl and the goings on of the church, and its activities gave me the creeps and the characters especially Mazu with her tarantula vibes was just evil.
Unlike the other books in the series, the focus is more on the case even though the readers are made to sense the yearning of both partners for each other. As the saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder, Strike finally accepts his feelings for Robin as he misses her presence around him and is kind of depressed that he let Robin move further away from him due to his foolishness to maintain the status quo. Robin being already aware of her feelings for her partner is however more into the “falling out of love” phase and has a boyfriend in place and how cheeky of the author to lob a grenade at the end of the story getting the readers to crave for the next one immediately.
The are several plots explored in the story in addition to the central plot, Strike’s relationship with his sister Prudence and his acceptance of the flighty Lucy seeing her truly without any misconceptions, and of course Charlotte and the arc of that enigmatic character drawing to a close giving Strike the clarity of what he wants in his future, the subcontractors, Midge, Barclay and Dev and the newest Littlejohn who has yet another mystery to be unveiled, and of course, the most efficient Pat and her quips. There are also several characters to sift through, as Strike on the outside and Robin on the inside get to the bottom of the UHC and its web.
Another exemplary work by the author even though there was many a time where I felt the details were way too exhaustive to the point of boring for me, especially the parts inside the Chapman farm, Yes, Strike series is not your typical adrenaline racing thrillers, we all know that and the description does get the imagination running on all tangents but I would have loved it equally with a story more tightly wound and bound.
Mind boggling as always!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Private Detective Cormoran Strike is contacted by a worried father whose son, Will, has gone to join a religious cult in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.
The Universal Humanitarian Church is, on the surface, a peaceable organisation that campaigns for a better world. Yet Strike discovers that beneath the surface there are deeply sinister undertones, and unexplained deaths.
In order to try to rescue Will, Strike’s business partner Robin Ellacott decides to infiltrate the cult and she travels to Norfolk to live incognito amongst them. But in doing so, she is unprepared for the dangers that await her there or for the toll it will take on her . . .