The Ink Black Heart is the sixth novel in the Strike series. Here is the synopsis:
When frantic, dishevelled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The co-creator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.
Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this – and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.
Robin and her business partner Cormoran Strike become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways . . .
As the synopsis suggests, this case deals heavily with the online world and how people behave on social media. Be prepared to read a lot of online chats among anonymous figures, including ‘Anomie’, the person who continuously sent hate to Edie Ledwell before she ends up dead in Highgate Cemetery. The online chats took a little getting used to at first; some effort was required to familiarise myself with all the usernames. This got easier the further into the book, and I really enjoyed the chapters showing the online chats. I recommend writing characters’ names down if you’re one to struggle with remembering names and who’s who.
Something I absolutely love about this series is how different each book feels, whereas many crime series feel very samey. The cases are all so different in themes and structure, and each book has a totally different vibe, new characters and new subplots.
Yet again, Rowling has taken Strike and Robin’s relationship to another level. She always manages to keep us invested in their relationship and keeps it interesting by taking them to new places. I’d argue the books are just as much a romance story as they are murder mysteries.
In addition to many returning characters and fun references to characters from previous books, there’s plenty of new and interesting characters introduced in this one. One of Rowling’s biggest strengths is her characters, who are all fully fleshed out and feel so real. She clearly pays a lot of attention to people and behaviours, in ‘real life’ and online.
As many of you will remember, Strike and Robin hired a new subcontractor at the end of Troubled Blood: Michelle Greenstreet, who we see a lot more of in Ink and makes a great addition to the detective agency.
One of my favourite things about this series is all the locations. There’s plenty of new pubs for me to visit, of course, but one location that really stands out in the book is Highgate Cemetery, which is the perfect place for a murder and the setting for the fictitious cartoon series (I almost think of it as similar to Scooby-Doo but for young adults). The idea of a fictional world within the fictional world is not something new to the series, as we had that with the Bombyx Mori novel in The Silkworm. The characters within the Ink Black Heart are quirky, and you can easily picture the cartoon in your head.
The book kept me guessing right to the end. I must have changed my mind about the identity of Anomie about a hundred times. Frustrating, but so satisfying and fun!
I can’t say too much more without spoiling anything, but I really did love every page of it. It’s a huge read, but no Strike book could be too big in my eyes!
I’d also like to say that if you’re not fully caught up with the series, I highly recommend you go back and read all the books in order to get the best experience, as characters and backstories mentioned in the earlier books are built upon in this one. Questions I’ve wanted to know the answers to since The Cuckoo’s Calling are finally answered in this one!
The Ink Black Heart is now available to purchase in bookstores. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below when you’ve read it!
There is also this recent interview between Robert Galbraith and Graham Norton discussing the book, which we uploaded to our YouTube channel: