The Running Grave– by J.K. Rowling

The Running Grave– by J.K. Rowling February 18, 2024

O.K. so War and Peace is longer— at 1352 pages, but I’ve never ever read a detective story that ran 945 pages.  And I did not see this coming. I read the first three volumes in this series, and missed out 4 through 6,  and none of them were near this long.  But I had asked for this for Christmas, and my wife got it for me…. so I needed to read this until my eyeballs fell out, or almost so.  Fortunately J.K. Rowling is an excellent writer and she knows how to do a page turner, and truth be told the murder mystery was of secondary importance to me, I wanted to see how ‘the odd couple’. detective Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellicott were getting along, were they any nearer to recognizing what their true feelings might be for each, quite apart from the thrill of the chase, the fun of solving mysteries, and the pleasure of good repartee.   Both of these persons are very sharp indeed, and hard workers as well, and they love their work….. but something’s amiss.  Their partnership in crime solving is much more of a partnership of equals in brain power than say Holmes and Watson, or Lord Peter and Bunter, or Poirot and his sidekick.

Here’s the summary of the story line of this installment of the series—-

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is contacted by a worried father whose son, Will, has gone to join a religious cult in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.

The Universal Humanitarian Church is, on the surface, a peaceable organization that campaigns for a better world. Yet Strike discovers that beneath the surface there are deeply sinister undertones, and unexplained deaths.

In order to try to rescue Will, Strike’s business partner, Robin Ellacott, decides to infiltrate the cult, and she travels to Norfolk to live incognito among its members. But in doing so, she is unprepared for the dangers that await her there or for the toll it will take on her. . .

Utterly pulse-pounding, The Running Grave moves Strike’s and Robin’s story forward in this epic, unforgettable seventh installment of the series.

And it was the cult side of it that really interested me in this novel, as it is a story about mind control,  manipulation, and the human will to believe what one hopes and desires to be actually true.  And sure enough this is one vicious cult, as things turn out, needed to be exposed for child abuse, sexual abuse, and much more.   This cult makes the Mansons or even the Branch Davidians look like amateurs.   Rowling admits that her Harry Potter series was much influenced by the Bible, and she admits to the Bible being an inspiration to her in various ways.  Whether she is a practicing Christian or not is not clear to me.   But I absolutely agree with the implicit and explicit critique in this novel of cults that brainwash people and take away their money, their freedom, their natural family relationships and more.

If a 945 page novel can be a page turner, this one is, and it is loaded throughout with quotes the I Ching, so one gets to learn some of the proverbs of that sort of oriental mysticism and determinism.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but you need some time to do it justice, as I am not a speed reader.

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