Troubled Blood


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.

Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and 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. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .


Shortly after the release of the fourth Strike novel, Lethal White, J.K. Rowling announced she was already working on the fifth novel in the series.

In January 2020, Rowling revealed on Twitter than she had finished writing the novel, and on 20th February 2020, the title was announced to be Troubled Blood, with a release date set for 29th September 2020. The publication date was later changed to 15th September 2020.

The finished manuscript.

The first edition hardcover is 944 pages long, making it, at the time, the longest Strike novel so far.

On 25th August 2020, the first seven chapters were made available as a free sample on Apple Books in the US.

General Information

Whilst writing the novel, Rowling revealed on Twitter that Strike’s half-brother Al Rokeby will make an appearance in the fifth novel. On 23rd November 2018 (Cormoran Strike’s birthday), she also tweeted that she was writing about the morning of Robin Ellacott’s 29th birthday.

Rowling also updated her twitter header photos in relation to the novel’s storyline. One header was a photo of three Aleister Crowley Thoth tarot cards: Death, Ace of Swords and Two of Cups. Another header photo was that of an astrological chart by Aleister Crowley.

Thoth tarot cards
Astrological chart

For research, Rowling said that she spent a lot of time in the Clerkenwell area of London and got to know it very well. When writing the novel, she also updated her Twitter header to an old sketch of what seems to be the St. John’s Gate in Clerkenwell.

Rowling also spent time listening to Joni Mitchell, since she made the character of Margot Bamborough a big fan. She said that Mitchell’s music is the only time that writing a novel has ever made her obsessed with something and that she now owns everything Joni Mitchell has ever done.

According to Rowling, Dennis Creed, the serial killer in the novel, is based on real-life serial killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams.

Another significant aspect to the book is the involvement of perfumes. You can read about the perfumes of Troubled Blood below.

The Book Cover

In early July 2020, Robert Galbraith started posting teasers online that involved photos of the Hampton Court Palace astrological clock.

On 9th July 2020, the official cover for Troubled Blood was revealed.

Photographer Stephen Mulcahey posted on Instagram that he was commissioned by Duncan Spilling, art director for Little, Brown, to shoot the two main figures on the cover. The models on the cover are Eleanor Duckworth and Richard Wicks.

Below is a fan-made cover of Troubled Blood by Potter Cave in the original style of the first three Strike books.

By Potter Cave

Explore the Story

The Music of Troubled Blood
Perfumes of Troubled Blood
Real People of Troubled Blood
The Epigraphs of Troubled Blood
Troubled Blood Trigger Warning Guide


Troubled Blood sold almost twice as many copies as the previous book in its first week. The novel received hugely positive reviews from critics and the the general audience. A large majority gave the novel a five-star rating on the site Goodreads.

In the US, the book sold 30,618 copies in its first week and reached number two in the bestsellers list.

Read about The Cuckoo’s Calling (book 1)

Read about The Silkworm (book 2)

Read about Career of Evil (book 3)

Read about Lethal White (book 4)

Read about The Ink Black Heart (book 6)