My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So, this book is about a writer who is killed just as he is trying to get his latest book, where every character is a thinly veiled charicature of people he knows. Those people are mostly other writers or people working in the publishing industry, and that makes me wonder: how much of those characters are thinly veiled versions of people Rowling knows? Probably none, but it's fun to wonder how meta it actually is. The blog of one aspiring (and failing) author is quoted on some pages of the book, and as someone who spends a lot of time reading real blogs like that I can assure you it seems authentic. So authentic Rowling must be reading blogs like that herself. The thought amuses me a lot.
But, okay, the actual book? I liked it. That is to say, I liked the mystery A LOT. I had no idea who the killer was, and the because the murder was so fantastically morbid and sadistic it was hard to imagine any of the suspects capable of it. Had he just been stabbed or shot I could have suspected anyone, but the way it happened? No, I couldn't imagine any of them capable of it.
Sadly, I just don't care much for Strike or Robin. They're not very interesting characters to me, not even when I try to picture them as Mad-Eye Moody and Tonks. Had I liked them more, had I cared more, I probably would have five-starred it. Because it was hard to put down and exciting.
The use of the word "hermaphrodite" made me a bit uncomfortable, given that it is often used a slur towards trans people. I think this should probably have been pointed out at some point in the book, the way the r-slur (towards a disabled character) was very much treated as a bad thing within the book itself. Although, of course, by the end of the book, it was clear that the "hermaphrodite" character in the book within book WAS hurtful to a trans character, so the issue isn't totally unacknowledged, just the usage of the specific word.