Cormoran Strike Novel #3 Read my brief mention of the first two books in this series in my October 9, 2015 post here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-B and there is a full review of The Cuckoo’s Calling on this blog here http://wp.me/p6N6mT-Xx
To say that I was thrilled when my husband picked us up a brand new copy of the new Cormoran Strike book, Career of Evil, would be a huge understatement. I was ecstatic! This series – British PI murder mysteries written by the incomparable JK Rowling, using the alias Robert Galbraith – is simply not to be missed by fans of the genre or fans of the author. (Forgiving her that awkward book, A Causal Vacancy, which displayed enormous talent but was populated with stories and character’s that were unlikable and almost all heartbreaking. A review of it can be found here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-Md )
Before reviewing, I would like to point out that while you could read this book on its own — since Galbraith’s wonderful writing makes for a thrilling mystery even without the back story — you should absolutely read the previous two books in the series (in order!) Skipping those books would deprive you not only of the reading of two thrilling tales written by a master storyteller, but also of the chance to participate in the slowly unraveling stories of the series’ hero and heroine, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.
The story opens with the stalwart private investigator, Cormoran Strike, a self-described “fat bastard,” an ex-boxer with the body of a man “who smokes too much and eats too much fast food, who wears a permanent expression of crossness.” He is keeping afloat a small private investigation business with the help of his beautiful, savvy assistant, Robin Ellacott. Robin has eschewed a more profitable career in accounting to study surveillance, self-defense, and investigative tactics under Strike. The two work side-by-side solving their clients’ crises, keeping up their platonic relationship. However, there are undercurrents of attraction between the two (readers of the series will be thrilled to learn that Robin is still has not married that tosser Matthew at the start of this book.)
The newest case for the pair comes not from a client but from a gruesome package containing a severed human leg that is delivered to Robin at the end of Chapter Two. Although the leg comes addressed to Robin, Strike is immediately certain that the package is meant as a message for both of them…as a threat against Robin and a riddle for Strike to solve. The package and its accompanying letter lead Strike to zero in on four men he knows from his past, each a likely murderer. Reluctantly, he begins to sift through his past (time spent as a neglected child, an army recruit, a military investigator) for hints at the package’s sender. “His vague memories of the past had weakened, no doubt by his deliberate attempts to forget,” but the arrival of the package means “now the memories were rising to bite him as though he had trodden on a nest of sleeping snakes.”
Galbraith has once again delivered a novel true to its murder mystery roots while offering readers so much more than another formulaic read. Skillfully moving between Strike’s, Robin’s and the murderer’s points-of-view, Galbraith delivers us a modern story that is filled with wit and intelligence and populated with full-bodied characters that we quickly come to know so well. One beautifully crafted sentence follows another, sketching out in perfect detail the past and present lives of the characters – of large and small importance to the story – and the places they each inhabit.
Curling up with a book as good as this one is one of life’s greatest pleasures. There is nothing as euphoric as being unable to put down a fabulous book. Enthralled, I lugged the (not insubstantial) book everywhere for the two days, ignoring my errands, my work, and even my children — with in reason…they were playing on the playground or in their rooms with Legos) to find out how the story would end. Heavenly!
NOTE: This book, as is true of all murder mystery novels, contains graphic (although not gratuitous) depictions of murder as well as some graphic very sexual content. This story marks a much darker theme than the first two Cormoran Strike novels, but it is nonetheless outstanding. This is NOT a book for young adults, even though the author is JK Rowling.