Series: Cormoran Strike #3
Published by: Hachette
ISBN 13: 9780316349932
Published: October 2015
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Cuckoo’s Calling – Cormoran Strike #1
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith is the third in the very successful series by J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert as we all know well by now), and doesn’t disappoint. From the first this series has been incredibly engaging with excellent characters.
The detective, Cormoran Strike, who I’ll always picture as Idris Elba (because of Luther) no matter how many times they describe him, and his partner (sometimes secretary) Robin, who is to be married (finally) to Matthew.
Unfortunately this is to a man we’ve only seen her fight with since the first book, but whom she’s been with since high school and they have their good moments together also – just usually when Strike isn’t mentioned.
One thing Galbraith does very well is layers, an co-running plots that interweave and stay abundantly clear, even when there’s an element of mystery and the reader, along with the detectives, isn’t quite sure who the villain is. When Robin is delivered a severed leg with the abundant threat that this is meant to scare her and that this is someone from Strike’s past coming back to get him… Strike says there are a few people it could be. On top of the case load they have currently and Robin’s oncoming wedding, they’re kept busy as they try to track down people from his past and keep an eye on them also. The police are about as much help as they have been in the past (excellent in some avenues, and not so much in others), there’s some things only Strike can do himself, especially as things get more brutal and Robin continues to be targeted.
Another thing that’s done well is the balance of personal and private, and professional lives of Robin and Strike and how they conflict at times. How they have opinions on the other’s personal lives they aren’t entirely welcome to have, and how this can turn out sometimes – in fact, especially when they go wrong. We see more of their past with a focus on Robin’s time through college, and the trauma they’ve both witnessed. The handling of this may be triggering to some, but it’s written with great respect and care, as only Rowling can do. If you’ve read her Casual Vacancy novel, you’ll know exactly how blunt yet delicate she can be about certain topics.
Because of this, and because of how graphic the violence is, and how ‘in your head’ we get in that of the villains, this book isn’t always easy reading nor for the faint-hearted. It’s utterly realistic and heart-breaking, and doesn’t shy away from portrayed characters as accurately as possible – as hard as this is to read at times.
Also, this is set at the time of the royal wedding (what, four years ago already? I was there that day in London and then Cambridge!) which gives it the added depth of Britishness, and also gives us brief escapes of London from time to time. Another thing Galbraith does well are accents – writing them out as they’d sound is a delicate balance, yet like Rowling did with Hagrid, it works.
Overall this is one of my favourite books of the year. We’ve had a new Galbraith book each year so far – fingers crossed this continues in 2016 and beyond!