"Lethal White" is the fourth book by Robert Galbraith in his "Comoran Strike" series of books. It was released in 2018 to the usual commercial success and critical acclaim. The book was long, had an even more involved plot than Galbraith's usually involved plotting, and took a longer time to be written and released.
Where do I start with this book? Because there is a lot going on, both internally in the book and in its social commentary. The first thing that occurred to me was this book is that it seemed more cynical than Galbraith's previous books, perhaps because it more directly focused on politics. The story is introduced with the conflict between a Conservative government minister, and the "Hard Left" (I would say "tankie") figure who is attempting to blackmail him. This blackmail is apart from any political differences they have. The book seems to go into detail on the failings of both sides: the venality, arrogance and presumption of privilege of London's conservative elite, and the sketchiness, hypocrisy, and thuggishness of the "hard left". The protagonist of the story, Comoran Strike, and his assistant, Robin Ellacott, are working for the conservative politician, despite personal distaste, because a client is a client. It wasn't totally clear, from the text, whether Strike and Ellacott's unpleasant reaction to their client is meant to be read on a more socially meaningful level, or whether it is just another aspect of their sometimes unpleasant work. The same is true of their attempts to do underground work among leftist groups: is the author endorsing such surveillance tactics, or merely describing them? There is not a single summation of the mosaic of social and political struggle, it is just something that appears as a background, for the reader to decode.
Which brings us to the second point: what are mystery novels meant to do for the reader? On one hand, solving a mystery is a cognitive task, and as I said in my review of Silkworm, the challenge to the reader makes a detective story more like a puzzle than a simple text. But on the other hand, mystery novels are often escapist, and occur in a static world: the detective solves the crime, and the world returns to where it is. This series of books has featured character development for the main characters, and this book had many subplots. But: after reading to the end of the book, and understanding how all of the book's misdirection and red herrings are revealed, I didn't feel changed. The revelation that appearances were not realities, which should spark an epiphany of sorts, fell flat. The book kept me reading, but this devotion wasn't rewarded with a transformation at the end. Instead, I found myself in the same sullen, cynical world that I had been in that the beginning of the text.
Perhaps I did not read enough.
This is perhaps not the best summation of the book, merely some subjective notes I took to myself on the book. Other people might have a quite different focus with the book.