The running grave by Robert Galbraith

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What can I say? Despite the enormous 947 pages of The Running Grave, the author kept me glued to the page as the tension and suspense kept me awake. Add short chapters, often leaving the reader on a cliff-hanger, making it impossible to just read one chapter more, and The running grave left me with a couple of almost sleepless nights. This time Strike and Robin are given the task of rescuing a client’s son, Will, from a religious cult. On the surface The Universal Humanitarian Church advocates peace and help for underprivileged people and addicts but the pair soon uncover mysterious deaths and sinister undertones. Robin goes undercover to try and persuade Will to leave the cult and to find enough evidence to stop the Church’s misdeeds, while Strike delves into the death of the young girl who is supposed to manifest as the Drowned Prophet and traces the few people who have managed to escape the Church.

The author tells the story in two voices that of Robin inside the cult and Strike outside, but for me it was the chapters that traced Robin’s indoctrination that were riveting, and kept me breathless, desperately hoping that she is not recognised. The running grave is an expert and exhausting expose of how a cult works, and a warning – some of the scenes are horrific. By following what happens to Robin while undercover, it is easy to understand the depth of belief under scored by fear that members of The Universal Humanitarian Church have.

Running throughout the story are the threads of the attraction that Strike and Robin feel for each other but deny, and readers will eagerly follow these to see whether there are any positive outcomes. Secondary characters are well developed and the author delivers some surprises along the way.

Fans of the series will not want to miss The running grave and are certain to wish for a future novel featuring Strike and Robin.

Themes: Cults, Private investigators, Mystery, Crime, Thriller.

Pat Pledger