This book again follows the private detective, Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. Some time has passed since the previous book and now the agency has dwindling clients. Everything changes when Robin receives a package, which turns out to have a severed foot it in. Cormoran naturally produces 3 suspects from his past that he is sure would try to attack him and his business through Robin. What results is a three pronged investigation into who has been murdering women and sending their severed body parts to Robin.
Now on to my opinion. As a whole, I thought this was a pretty decent third book in the series. It wasn't as good as The Silkworm, but it was loads better than The Cuckoo's Calling. I feel like with every new installment J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith is exploring a different subset of the genre. The first book tended to feature a lot of interviews and long discussions over the killer's identity, The second book tended to step away from the more dry investigative style, and this book seems to focus on the gory aspects of murder mysteries. I think the amount of violence to women in this book and gore is what probably caused me to dislike this book a little more than the last. I prefer a much more intellectual mystery where the gore is hinted at, but never elaborated on in detail.
What also sets this book apart is the POV chapters from the killer. I wish it had been a little more successful at revealing the psychology of the killer, but those chapters just acted as a vehicle for more gore. The book also tried to take a larger thematic angle about violence against women, but I don't think the characters had any prevalent discussions about it to give the theme some weight for the readers.
That being said the best part of this book had to be the character development. In fact it kind of overshadowed the mystery itself, particularly when the murderer was revealed in probably the fastest way possible. Readers get a glimpse into Robin's past and her relationship with Matthew gets tested. Even though the main character in this series is Cormoran, Robin is the primary character in this murder mystery. Her strengths as an investigator have grown, but her personal life is far from perfect. The book even ends on a cliffhanger. One that doesn't deal with the murder mystery, but with Robin and Cormoran's relationship.
As a whole, I found this to be a fast paced murder mystery whose inclusion broadens the scope of the series, making it enjoyable for more murder mystery fans. I hoping that J.K. Rowling channels another facet of the genre in her next book and I can't wait to see what happens with Robin and Cormoran's lives. Now enjoy all of your holiday gifts and I'll see you back here for some more bookish blog posts!