I listened to this book!
My strategy is to alternate listening and reading when I have time.
Ok, so there were a lot of mixed reviews on this book. I’ll do my best to review this while keeping them in mind.
This book compared to the first two:
I like the way this series is progressing. I know a lot of people thought Cuckoo’s Calling was a bit slower and Silkworm was the best, but I happen to like the progression. I didn’t think this mystery was slow (some people did) due to the large number of interviews, the traveling, the element of hidden danger around every corner and — to be honest — I really liked that each of the three main suspects was developed little by little and seemed plausible right up until the very end. This was due largely in part to the large cast of characters Strike and Robin interviewed and what they learned about each suspect. I found myself flipping back and forth, thinking each was plausible for different reasons. I also liked how the novel was kind of broken up regarding the investigation of the suspects. The first third involved introducing each one, the second third found Strike and Robin traveling to their last known whereabouts and interviewing family for details, and the last third was trying to find where each was now. To be honest, the book kept my attention and in suspense because of the very smart decision not to rule out any suspects until the final act.
I’m still really torn about the POV sections. When the book opened, I thought it was hokey and awkward in contrast with the other books, but because of the way they’re written and because of the way the plot runs, they support the book’s challenge of figuring out who, out of the three, it could be. But with that being said, you could eliminate them and it wouldn’t take anything away from the book (besides some really creepy, evil perspective). The Matthew POV I could do without. It was really awkward (since I was listening on audio) to be in Robin’s perspective and to suddenly switch to Matthew’s, and it doesn’t happen much — only twice or three times in the entire story, maybe? And only in the beginning and the end? Ughhhh.
Robin’s backstory & the Theme
A lot of readers have had outcry over the reveal of a traumatic event that shaped Robin’s past and her character. Considering the fact that the first three books were already pretty much done when Cuckoo’s Calling was published, I feel that this was probably set up from the beginning. With that being said, I didn’t mind it. I read reviews that really hate this — that if a female character needs development or a turning point, she’ll have a rape backstory — I didn’t. In fact, it made me respect Robin more for coming into her own, owning it, and confronting her past every day that she was at work. It adds another level to her reasoning behind why she finds being a detective more than just a job, but a vocation, and another level to her relationships with everyone in her life — she wants to be seen as more than the victim that dropped out of college. The Theme of this book centers around misogynistic, abusive men, culminating of course in the classic serial killer who needs to keep satiated by killing and dismembering. There are some difficult parts to read and I understand that people are turned off by it, the argument being that a book can’t expose the horrors women experience every day and then simultaneously do horror porn. To be fair, a lot of the horrific stuff in the book would be eliminated if the POV parts were, though some of it was in the interviews. We see Robin’s reaction to what’s happening, to what these men have done, and what their victims experienced, and it really affects her. AND it affects her that Strike doesn’t have this extreme emotional experience. I think the catch is that, while yes it’s horrible and graphic, this is not new stuff and it does happen. My first experience with a serial-killer-hunting-women book was The Lovely Bones, and I think this book calls back quite a bit to that one. People don’t like to see women as victims because they almost always are in these types of books, and they don’t want to see the rape/murder happen to preserve the dignity of the fictional person. I totally get that. I’m also the type that doesn’t mind reading the gritty.
Robin Staying with Matthew
Ugh, you guys, I feel like this should be an easy section but obviously we all know that it’s not that simple. While I didn’t want Robin to stay with Matthew, I also didn’t want her to immediately fall on Strike as the next available option and potentially ruin things. Clearly things have been going downhill with Matthew and Robin since book 1 when she started actually working, thinking, and acting for herself. Matthew wants vulnerable, passive Robin back — the woman who won’t argue with him because He Knows What’s Best. I think we all know that Matthew got teary and desperate for Robin to return because he’s just one of those guys that can’t stand a blow to his ego. Robin can’t be friends with Strike or have her job because it makes him insecure that she might find fulfillment in something other than him. She can’t leave him because that will bring to light all the ugly jealousy and ~~CHEATLICIOUSNESS.~~ Besides the opening passage of the first book where we cheer Robin on for getting engaged, I don’t think we’ve seen one good thing about Matthew. It all goes downhill immediately after Robin doesn’t want to stop working for Strike. Clearly Robin doesn’t want to just give up on their entire life together, either, which is potentially realistic. In my opinion, rather than Robin’s mother give her an ultimatum in this book, I would have liked to see Robin keep on riding solo — maybe after a big fight in which Matthew doesn’t think he did anything wrong (because he doesn’t).
Strike Fires Robin
On point with everyone else, this was totally out of character and unnecessary. He should have done the yelling thing, then told her to take like a leave of absence or something. No, I don’t believe that he had a plan to keep her out of danger. I mean, if he did, he did it in the most cruel way possible and it’s just annoying when that happens in films and books. Not to mention, in like the CHAPTER before Robin goes off to confront Alyssa, she is attacked and Strike is horrified. Like, TWO CHAPTERS between Robin getting nearly killed and then Strike freaking out. Not cool.
Aaaaaaaaaand that’s it! fin.