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Lethal White

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by Robert Galbraith


‘Hugely absorbing. . . the best Strike novel yet’ SUNDAY MIRROR

‘Highly inventive storytelling’ GUARDIAN

‘Outrageously entertaining’ FINANCIAL TIMES

***’Come for the twists and turns and stay for the beautifully drawn central relationship’***INDEPENDENT

‘Blistering piece of crime writing’ SUNDAY TIMES

***’Fans will love it’***HEAT


*** The latest book in the thrilling Strike series, TROUBLED BLOOD, is available to pre-order now! ***

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.


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About this book

758 Pages
16 - 18 Hours to read
206k Total words



‘Hugely absorbing. . . the best Strike novel yet’ SUNDAY MIRROR

‘Highly inventive storytelling’ GUARDIAN

‘Outrageously entertaining’ FINANCIAL TIMES

***’Come for the twists and turns and stay for the beautifully drawn central relationship’***INDEPENDENT

‘Blistering piece of crime writing’ SUNDAY TIMES

***’Fans will love it’***HEAT


*** The latest book in the thrilling Strike series, TROUBLED BLOOD, is available to pre-order now! ***

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott – once his assistant, now a partner in the agency – set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been – Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that . . .

Epic and enthralling, Lethal White is the gripping fourth instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.



‘One of the most unique and compelling detectives I’ve come across in years‘ MARK BILLINGHAM

‘The work of a master storyteller’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

‘Unputdownable. . . Irresistible’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Will keep you up all night’ OBSERVER

‘A thoroughly enjoyable classic’ PETER JAMES, SUNDAY EXPRESS

Additional information


Hardcover, Paperback


  1. Good Echo

    This book was a pre-order, set to load on my kindle two days before my birthday. The only complaint I can muster is that I read these books as soon as they are released and then have to wait a year+ for the next one. No spoilers here. I will say that I enjoyed this one just as much as the 1st installment “Cuckoo’s Calling”. None of the books in this series have been a disappointment but I do have my favorites, of course. I wish that I could write a lengthy review but I just finished reading Lethal White and I’m exhausted. I’m hooked on this series and probably more invested in the eventual outcome for Strike and Robin than I should be. Aaannd now I have to wait a year+ for the next installment.

  2. Nom de Plume

    I usually enjoy JK’s offerings but I’ll not read any more of these books. Half of it could have been scrapped what with all the suffering and pining Robin and Strike did. Not sure why a perfectly good friendship has to be made into a romance. I was truly annoyed and ended up skipping some of the more unnecessary introspection. Coupled with the convoluted plot that amounted to not even a frisson of enjoyment/satisfaction on its conclusion, no need for me to visit their world again. Waste of my money.

  3. Sara Horton

    While the whole series is wonderful this book is particularly riveting. Not only is the relationship between the character fascinating but so is the main crime!

  4. Shauna K Davis

    Disappointed… the last third of the book was pretty good, more like a 4. But in order to get to that you had to suffer over the whole ‘Matthew is mean’, ‘Matthew is a horrible husband.’ It got So Old. I hate Matthew. I don’t like him as a character, never have. I thought that the first 2/3 of the book focused far too much on the love triangle / rectangle of it all. Also, I thought that the overall plot was… bizarre. I recently watched the Strike TV show (you can get it through iTunes), and while I love the main characters, the plots themselves are so bizarre in general, but this I thought was the Worst of all the plots of the Cormoran Strike books and plots. They only mentioned what a ‘lethal white’ was once. I think it refers to the painting in question. I hope that the next book is far, far better. Less romance, no Matthew, and less ‘my achy leg’. I love the main characters, but this feels like a departure from the earlier books in so many ways. In the end J.K. Rowling says that this book was one of the most complicated and difficult she has ever written… really? This is probably my Least Favorite J.K. Rowling book… ever. All the Harry Potter books I loved – I was never very critical of them, just feasted on them. If this is the most difficult book you’ve ever written, maybe that’s because it wasn’t working? Spoilers – I figured out that the son and the mother-in-law were having an affair at least half way through the book, but the other pieces were basically impossible to guess, although I enjoyed the mystery. Also, I was extremely disappointed that the entire beginning of the story, Billy, ended up basically being pointless. I think a plot where the favorite son who died somehow popped up would’ve been so much better!

  5. Margaret

    It’s a cold and selfish world, Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling creates for Cormoran and Robin. This has been her style throughout but in this instalment it’s beyond realistic. There is a lot of casual cruelty and casual abuse without consequence and even without response, let alone responsibility. Some is in the past, when “all that” was still “quite normal” – like when one character tells about how her father witnessed one other character of the book kick a naked child around a garden in winter. Nobody did anything about that then, it was “what those people did”. I find this not realistic in England. This child, having grown up and being a sort-of-would-be-client, phones Cormoran feeling he is held captive and mortally afraid. This doesn’t generate action, merely some thought and an often voiced wish to “find” him. Sure: the paying client is someone else. The money is not paid by this kid. BUT – anyone – really anyone would have tried to put others in motion to help this young man to be found. But all those casual cruelties are shock effects doing nothing for the storyline as such. There is no fun, no levity, no subversive humor like in Cuckoo’s Calling where Charlotte, Cormoran Strike’s former fiancee wants to put him down by having her upcoming marriage announced in The TIMES social column. At the same time Cormoran features on pages 1-3 of all tabloids being the squeeze of a supermodel (that Hansel’s so hot right now!). THAT was so brilliant. I miss these funny and subversive bits.In “Lethal White” Cormoran Strike is hobbled by his financial concerns and problems, the company and his feelings for Robin. Robin is not only hobbled but frankly turned into a pillar of salt by her ridiculously bad marriage, her cold and loveless life where even social gatherings are vicious pack attacks on insecurities like a receding hairline. Subterfuge, avoidance and ennui are Robin’s way to deal with her situation. Luckily for us readers, the absolute zero of her marriage situation seems reached by the end of this book. Phew! Please let’s have Robin re-enter the realm of the living. And while I’m at it: please let Cormoran either get a better liner for his prothesis or another prothesis (biodesigns inc.? just sayin’). Honestly: please. It’s so annoying to have him face all hardship of the company as a boss with additional constant fear of imminent necrosis. The story burbles along without real impact. The solution of what it was all about is not convincing.I give two stars, because there are still very good bits: All description of places, be it Westminster, be it pubs and places in London: brilliant. Some aspects of the disfunctional families, friends, lovers interactions are believably pictured. In total though I was dissappointed.

  6. Patrick King

    At the bitter sweet end of Career of Evil I was concerned that the series was over and that Robin would forever be married to that putz, Matthew. The reason I thought this was because of the correlation between Strike’s and Robin’s ill-fated first encounter in The Cuckoo’s Calling and Strike’s maladroit entrance to Robin’s wedding in Career of Evil. They seemed to close a circle, a plot technique Ms. Rowling is especially good at. I was therefore thrilled last week to learn that Lethal White, the next installment in Strike’s and Robin’s adventures, was just released. I bought it on Amazon in the Whispersync format so I can read it and continue listening to it while I’m driving. I often buy books like this but I seldom actually use both elements. Some books I tend to read on Kindle, others I listen to in the car. With Lethal White I used both formats and finished it in four days. I couldn’t put it down. Some people seem to think it was too long. I never noticed. I did have to stop occasionally to work and sleep, otherwise I was embroiled in the story.The balance between Robin Ellacot’s perceptiveness and insecurity gives a very realistic tone to her character.Strike’s many problems apart from work, not least of which the difficulty with his prosthesis, gives these stories engaging drama apart from the mysteries at hand.With the loss of Ruth Rendell three years ago we lost the reigning Queen of British Mystery Writers. Ms. Rowling now has every right to claim that throne.

  7. Drwo

    Such a delight to find Lethal White waiting to be opened like a long awaited and desired gift.For those new to the detective team of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellicott, you may need a short tutorial as these novels are sequential, with very little time between plots.Lethal White begins with Robin’s wedding to her long time boyfriend and Strike’s thinly disguised reluctance to accept the situation. While Robin is honeymooning, Strike holds down the detective agency fort.The detecting really begins when a Cabinet Minister hires Strike and Robin to uncover a blackmailer who is demanding money but remains anonymous. Robin goes undercover in the ministerial offices and a dizzying array of characters seem likely suspects. The Minister’s latest wife, his children with absurd nicknames and different mothers, all seem psychologically, if not intellectually, capable of skullduggery.When a murder happens, an entirely new client wants the murderer revealed. Woven amidst the search for whodunit is the continuing saga of the detectives’ personal lives. Strike is unable to put to rest a long term relationship with a woman whose beauty and volatile personality hover at the back of his psyche even though she is married to someone else.Robin has found her professional niche which infuriates her new husband, Matthew. Of the recurring characters, Matthew is the least interesting, an opinion which may be shared by the author who seems as ready as the reader to kick him to the curb, aka the kerb.The motives are many and the herrings, red and every other color, abound.It appears that Strike and Robin will live on to solve more mysteries – hopefully.

  8. Amazon Customer

    The long-awaited fourth installment of the Strike series has arrived at last! My greedy hands snatched it up and devoured the near-700 pages in a single weekend. Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are off on another adventure – this one larger and grander than any of their previous tales.This one took about 250 pages to get going. My friends reading along with me had similar feedback. It’s a tediously slow and complicated start and just about the opposite of a page turner. Towards page 300 things really get going and the story veers into movement. I really enjoyed it after that. Have some patience for this one if you feel the same. In the end, it was worth the investment and really paid off. In fact, it may be about my favorite book of the series. And even though the first third was pretty meh, I never mind just being in the company of these characters. And the plot itself is pretty complicated, so I suppose the intense set up was more than necessary.On a negative note, I’m not a fan of the Matthew/Robin side story that’s been going on for, at this point, about 1500 pages and four entire novels (someone should have stopped that madness!!). I wish I understood the ultimate aim here or why we’ve had to sit through the longest, most boring breakup in novel history (or which feels like a break up anyway, and has since book one). I get it to an extent, what with Robin’s history, but my patience has worn thin. Unfortunately I can’t comment further without giving spoilers. But needless to say I was both satisfied and frustrated with some of the outcomes there.There were a few questions I had after I read it. Perhaps some plot holes, things that didn’t quite add up to me. I tend to overthink stories and I’m guilty at trying to connect everything. When I was done, I was not satisfied with Billy’s role in the story despite the neatly tied up closure we get. Not to be nit picky, but it’s a huge part of the story. Discussion with my friends didn’t help anything (they all agreed it was loosey goosey) but overall it didn’t detract from the overall story. No spoilers of course, so you have to decide for yourself.On a positive note, this was one of the more exciting books in the series. Tons of undercover work, road trips, treks through the woods, lots of interviews and clues and research, all set against the backdrop of the 2012 London Olympics, which was mildly interesting but served well as a juxtaposition for social commentary. Most importantly, I felt like both Strike and Robin really glowed in this one. I felt like I got to know them both even better than before, with their character development really off the charts. The chemistry between these characters is brilliant, and they are at their best when they are looking out for one another. We meet some new friends, and revisit some old ones, and all is good fun. The mystery itself was complicated and challenging, but felt very real. You have tons and tons of twists and turns and surprises waiting for you in this one. Highly recommended! And can’t wait for this one to make it to the series. I just love Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger.

  9. Morgan

    I wanted to like this book–I had read other Cormoran series books and enjoyed those more but I found myself struggling to finish this one. I had a hard time getting engaged in the plot. The initial story about Billy, the mentally ill man who is struggling to grapple with a childhood trauma, his memory of a young girl being killed, is compelling enough but it is quickly overshadowed by the introduction of many characters, most of them quite detestable (which is not necessary a bad thing but none of them drew me in so that I would care what happened to them). The plot was sometimes hard to follow because of the many characters and very tedious plot details. But the biggest problem I have with the book is that I just find Strike to be so unlikeable that it’s hard to root for him–he is cold, withdrawn, rude and too emotionally repressed to show in any real way his feelings for Robin. It just causes things to drag to a point where the reader calls for action–any action–to relieve the tedium.But I know I’m in a minority judging from the many five star reviews. I just was disappointed with this book especially because of Ms. Rowling’s reputation.

  10. Eirik, Norway

    I loved the author’s Harry Potter series because it was well-written, consistent and engaging from beginning to end. Since then I have seen a steady decline in this authorship, and it really touches bottom with the world-famous writer’s fourth Cormoran Strike-novel. I read a lot, I have worked with books all my life, and I know what good literature is like. Lethal White is far too long and should have been cut 30–40 percent, but the editors have probably been too awed by the autor to suggest cutting away lots of boring descriptions, mounds of repetitions and tons of dialogues that’s slowing the action to crawling in heaps of unnecessary words. And the author herself has probably been blinded by he former success to see her lack of ability to create a crime novel. How many times must we hear about Strike’s pains, how often should we be reminded of Robin’s bad marriage, how many empty details are we going to deal with before we loose all interest? Too Many, too many, too many!This novel had me wish I never started it on page 100, on page 200 I was thinking hard on my principle of never to quit a novel, and halfway, not many pages later, I broke my principle with a wonderful feeling of pure joy. Life is too short to spend it on bad literature. And that is just what this book is!J.W. Rowling ought to write a very short follow-up shortstory: Let Cormoran and Robin find each other and spend the rest of eternity happily living on a deserted island where no readers can reach them!

  11. Amazon Customer

    This popped onto my Kindle Tuesday as I woke up, and at 1:00AM Wednesday I finished it. Another amazingly complex work. What an amazing imagination Robert/JK has. Such a complex story but all strands coming together and tied up in the end. And the feel good story is feeling really good, but how much longer do we wait…this is Lord Peter and Harriet Vane all over again. Loved it, going to bed now!!! But the same as the other reviewers, we now have to wait at least another year or so to get the next installment. So frustrating.

  12. AJW

    Painful read. Way too long and the plot was so needlessly convoluted. It seems like JK would rather be writing a romance novel.

  13. trdavidson

    In stark contrast to the first three offerings in this series, I found this contribution padded with extraneous detail, endless exposition, and mountains of yawn-inducing dialogue.Strike and Ellacott come off as emotionally ill-equipped and so burdened by personal baggage that it was difficult for me to care much about either one of them by the time the tale was told. I found myself skimming through the final third – something I’m not wont to do unless I’m fearful I’ll give up entirely before the final page.And seriously – how many times must one be reminded that Strike is an amputee?I’ll be more circumspect before rushing to purchase the next installment.

  14. C Wm (Andy) Anderson

    After reading another autobiography, I felt I needed to read a suspense police procedural or thriller. Then, lo and behold, I found that a book I had pre-ordered appeared on my Kindle this morning. Launched into it several hours ago and found it to be better than some, but not quite hitting every note quite right for my desires in private eye stories. That, however, is getting ahead of the story.Please let me first address some key points:BLUSH FACTOR: It is no big secret that J. K. Rowling writes also as Robert Galbraith. Doing so is a smart move, as it signals that the story is fit more for adults than for kids. And, to be sure, the language and discussions within this epic novel is not the sort recommended for young ears or church prayer groups. There is sexual content but not graphic. Just intimate enough to titillate…The blush factor information is not provided as a complaint, nor as a cause for rating the book four stars instead of five. Rather, because it does so well portray the grittier side of life as I believe it to be for the sorts of characters depicted, I am tempted to raise the rating instead of lower it. Still, I am sure some readers will appreciate the caution.SOUL: Yes, because “Lethal White” does get so deeply into the seedier side of life for the types of characters depicted, one could say it has soul.POV: This story is told to us in third person.THE WRITING FLOW: The flow though out “Lethal White” is easy to read. And faster reading than one might expect from a 600-plus page epic. Some reviewers are sure to complain about the length and the tendency to slow down the pace, but do not count me as one of them. I appreciate the pace-changing that kept me turning the pages. Further, the character development is better than I expected, making the story well worth reading.Excerpt‘…Strike, who had spent large portions of his childhood living in squalor, found a disregard for hygiene hard to like, except in those people so unhappy or ill that cleanliness became an irrelevance.“Ex-army, aren’t you?” she asked, but Jimmy spoke over her.“How did Billy know how to find you?”“Directory inquiries?” suggested Strike. “I don’t live in a bat cave.”“Billy doesn’t know how to use directory inquiries.”“He managed to find my office OK.”“There’s no dead kid,” Jimmy said abruptly. “It’s all in his head. He goes on about it when he’s having an episode. Didn’t you see his tic?”Jimmy imitated, with brutal accuracy, the compulsive nose to chest movement of a twitching hand. Flick laughed.“Yeah, I saw that,” said Strike, unsmiling. “You don’t know where he is, then?”“Haven’t seen him since yesterday morning. What do you want him for?”“Like I say, he didn’t seem in any fit state to be wandering around on his own.”“Very public spirited of you,” said Jimmy. “Rich and famous detective worrying about our Bill.”Strike said nothing.“Army,” Flick repeated, “weren’t you?”“I was,” said Strike, looking down at her. “How’s that relevant?”“Just saying.” She had flushed a little in her righteous anger. “Haven’t always been this worried about people getting hurt, have you?”Strike, who was familiar with people who shared Flick’s views, said nothing. She would probably believe him if he told her he had joined the forces in the hope of bayoneting children.Jimmy, who also seemed disinclined to hear more of Flick’s opinions on the military, said:“Billy’ll be fine. He crashes at ours sometimes, then goes off. Does it all the time.”“Where does he stay when he’s not with you?”“Friends,” said Jimmy, shrugging. “I don’t know all their names.” Then, contradicting himself, “I’ll ring around tonight, make sure he’s OK.”“Right you are,” said Strike, downing his pint and handing the empty to a tattooed bar worker, who was marching through the forecourt, grabbing glasses from all who had finished with them. Strike took a last drag on his cigarette, dropped it to join the thousands of its brethren on the cracked forecourt, ground it out beneath his prosthetic foot, then…’Galbraith, Robert. Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel) (Kindle Locations 1162-1182). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.BOTTOM LINETough for me to settle on four stars or five stars. I think if there had been a little humor, even sarcasm, weaved in here and there, this might have touched all the bases for me. Still, I did enjoy the tale.Four stars out of five.I am striving to produce reviews that help you find books that you want, or avoid books that you wish to avoid. With your help, my improvement will help you and me improve book reviews on Amazon. Together, you and I can build a great customer review process that helps everybody. Will you join me? It is people such as you who have helped me improve over the years. I’m still learning, and I have a great deal yet to learn. With your help, I’ll improve every day.One request: Be respectful and courteous in your comments and emails to me. I will do likewise with you.Thank you so much for indicating if this review helped you, or for your comment.

  15. RDD

    Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)’s “Lethal White”, the fourth book featuring his detective Cormoran Strike, begins immediately after the events of “Career of Evil”, with Strike having captured the Shacklewell Ripper and showing up to his assistant, Robin Ellacott’s, wedding. After the drama that provokes, the narrative moves one year later, with London preparing for the 2012 Olympics. The story alternates between two crimes: in one, a mentally ill man reports seeing a child murdered when he was himself young. Strike begins looking into this and finds that his witness’s brother is one of the people protesting the cost of London hosting the Olympic Games. The Minister of Culture, Jasper Chiswell, then hires Strike to look into blackmail threats coming from a fellow minister and that same protestor, thereby linking the two crimes in Strike’s mind.Galbraith demonstrates his skill as one of the best modern crime noir authors with passages like, “It was four in the morning, the hopeless hour when shivering insomniacs inhabit a world of hollow shadow, and existence seems frail and strange” (pg. 223). He also uses the backdrop of the Olympics to discuss issues of class, a recurring topic in the Cormoran Strike novels. At one point, Strike muses at the connections between people, “People of Charlotte’s class all seemed to know each other. Even if they had never met, they knew siblings or cousins or friends or classmates, or else their parents knew somebody else’s parents; all were connected, forming a kind of web that constituted a hostile habitat for outsiders” (pg. 275). This theme of class recalls the work of Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie, who demonstrated the fragility of the thin veneer of civility upon which the upper classes rely, particularly in matters of money or pride.The title refers to lethal white syndrome, in which a foal is born with a defective bowel and suffers, the tragedy being “that they’re born alive, so the mare feeds them, gets attached” (pg. 355). The motif of white horses and white swans recurs throughout the novel and signals the more significant moments, both for developing Strike and Robin’s characters, and for the mystery itself. A must-read for fans of the Cormoran Strike series!

  16. Bookworm

    After an excruciatingly slow beginning the book started to take off in so many directions it was hard to keep track. Trying to weave into a single strand three very different mysteries is confusing to the very end with one character which had been thoroughly vilified suddenly turned into some kind of a victim seeking redress. Then there is – minor spoiler – the cabinet minister not only condoning but actively assisting the planting of a bug into a colleague’s offices in the House of Commons. However Strike and Robin seem to be on the same track at last so I shall be waiting eagerly for the next book in the series. Btw, how come Strike is not getting any state compensation for his war injury and missing leg? And aren’t there accommodations for war veterans?

  17. Debra Anderson

    Was too convoluted and overwrought, I had a difficult time with too many characters bouncing around. And it was way way way too long! The last 100 pages turned into a total slog and I just wanted it to end. I found myself checking the page number constantly so I could tell how many were left. I would have quit it except by then I had too many hundreds of pages invested in it. Quite disappointing since I had liked the previous books in this series.

  18. Jonathan Demers

    Spoiler alert….The first 10% of this story was about Robin’s continued unhappy relationship with Matthew, a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and who adds nothing to the story except to prevent her from being happy. He should have been written out of the series in the beginning of the 2nd book.I could make similar complaints regarding Charlotte, but it would be superfluous.Additionally, I really wish Rowling had not made Strike an amputee with a prosthesis. The amount of time spent talking about it and the pain he is in is onerous and does not make for a fun read.Too many characters and ridiculous names. Fizzy, Tinky, Pringle, etc. Seriously? I can’t keep track of all these ancillary characters.I didn’t care for the ending. It felt forced.Not my favorite. I have read all of her books, and I will read the next one. Just hope it’s better. Btw… the first three Strike books were phenomenal, in my opinion.

  19. HMH

    I found myself putting this down as I got to the last quarter of it in order to prolong the reading experience and truly savor the book. With my kindle showing 15 percent to go, I knew I was going to re-read it directly after finishing. I love the 2nd read of all of this series, having the fresh perspective of knowing the full plot and conclusion. That’s the joy of these books – the characters, plot, development and pacing is complex and compelling. The first read, not knowing the outcome, vs successive reads present equally entertaining and intriguing experiences.

  20. BooklustPNW

    According to my Kindle, I’m 76 percent done with this book and it’s just too dang long. I will finish it, only because I can’t imagine sinking this much of my life into something and not seeing it through. The venerable Ms. Rowling really does need to engage in some literary restraint, however, or at least, work with an editor that will take a red pen to her manuscripts.

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