If you notice that I stop posting regularly, you can safely bet that I have picked up an interesting book, usually fiction. I was reading Sai Deepak’s amazing book “India that is Bharat” but Robert Galbraith (alias for J K Rowling), released the next Cormoran Strike novel titled “The Ink Black Heart”. Just finished reading it !
The Ink Black Heart
This is a 1000+ page book as was Lethal White. Its obviously new age and topical with cartoons and an online game. I have never played any online game so this book was a good way to see how some young folks live on the internet. They are “plugged in” forever despite having “real” lives and physical bodies !!
The villain or the perp is always revealed in the last few pages in a Rowling book and this book is no exception. There is a hat tip to the Indians and Pakistanis that have flooded UK because an important character in the novel is Vikas Bhardwaj, a genius co-creator of the game.
Anomie …. and his Ink Black Heart
The whole book is about this character called Anomie, who is the creator of an online game based on a runaway hit cartoon called The Ink Black Heart. He remains anonymous and bullies one of the co-creators Edie online for nearly a year all because she doesn’t like the game ! Actually Anomie’s characterisation is done brilliantly and you can clearly see that he or she is the villain ultimately, just that their real name and identity is revealed right at the end.
The creators of the cartoon, Josh and Edie are attacked and Edie gets murdered while Josh is paralysed. Just a day before her murder, Edie visits Robin and Cormoran’s detective agency. Robin meets her but refuses to pick up the case as they are totally stretched.
As there were plans to make a movie using the Cartoon characters, the film maker wants this Anomie to be found and hires the Strike Detective Agency. The whole plot unravels from this … the North Grove art school, the fandom for the cartoon and its creators, the online bullying of Edie etc is truly typical of the world we live in. Online bullying is as bad as in person bullying and many young folks are driven to suicide or self harm at the least due to the online harassment.
Many dangerous criminals, mentally ill, paedophiles and all kinds of crooks have mastered the online world. Children and young folks are a huge target besides the gullible adults. Girls and women are constantly hit upon. Many are forced to share nudes or pics of themselves in suggestive poses which are then used to blackmail them further. All of this comes out as part of the investigation. The book also describes people with disabilities and the harassment they are subjected to online.
The perp is finally someone unexpected but the savagery of his attacks leave you feeling numb.
Most of the in-game chats are posted as pictures on Kindle and it becomes difficult to read the superfine print. Its followed by regular print and the conversations are posted again making it easier to read.
For all those hoping Cormoran and Robin get together, I guess they have to wait for the 7th book :). Things do move forward as each of them realises that they mean something more than just friends and partners to each other. The whole drama of Cormoran dating Madeline could have been avoided. It adds nothing to the story line. I guess like all western authors, Robert Galbraith also has to have a few pages and lines dedicated to sex.
Overall, its a gripping story and a well written one. The characters are obviously inspired from real life and the book helps open the lid on the dangers of the online world.
The list of Characters –
Do read it.
Note – For non-readers, you can watch the C. B. Strike series on Hotstar. Tom Burke acts as Cormoran Strike and Holiday Grainger as Robin Ellacott. So you can watch the famous duo instead of reading about them.