During December, I started reading the gritty crime fiction Career of Evil in the festive spirit of Christmas, and I have just finished the book. Career of Evil is the third and latest novel written by Robert Galbraith, or the author better known as J.K. Rowling. Since the end of the Harry Potter series, I have read all of Rowling’s books that she has written under both her own name and her pseudonym. It doesn’t matter whether she’s writing fantasy, crime, or books about social issues, I think all of her books are gems.
The series released under Robert Galbraith is a crime fiction series which follow the burly ex-military detective Cormoran Strike and his young assistant, Robin Ellacott. The third book takes place after Strike has solved two high-profile murders (which were the main storylines of books 1 and 2). This time, the crime becomes personal as someone is out to get Strike himself. Everyone knows that the best way to hurt someone is through the people they love, and the killer plans to maximize the impact on Strike through his assistant, Robin. At the office, Robin receives a hand-delivered package addressed to her, and inside is a severed woman’s leg. Thus begins the chase to find out the killer and sender of the package.
The book switches between Strike and Robin’s points of view, and talks about both the case and their personal lives. It really helps the story when you know more and more about the main characters. Every once in a while, there will be a chapter in the killer’s POV – this is something new that Rowling did not do in her previous books, and those chapters are just plain disturbing. Robin is by far my favourite character – she is strong, vulnerable, eager, stubborn, and driven, and is such an easy character to love. This book introduced us to her past for the first time, so we get a better understanding of why she is the way she is, and why she is still in the game after being delivered a freaking leg (because I would’ve said, “See ya later Strike, you’re solving this one on your own”). A lot of this book was also spent on developing the relationship between Strike and Robin, who have gone from being complete strangers in the first book to confidantes in this one. There are aspects of this relationship that I like, and also parts that I’m unsure about. I think we’ll just have to see where Rowling plans to lead this relationship in the fourth novel.
As with any other books by Rowling, the writing is impeccable as always, the storyline is spot-on, and there is more to the tale than just the surface story. It took me a long time to figure out what the first two books were trying to say, but I believe the first book dealt with the issue of media and the press, and the second talked about the ridiculousness of the publishing industry – both topics that I imagine are close to Rowling’s heart. In this book, the topic that by far stood out predominantly was violence against women. As an aside, one thing that I love about the Strike novels is that J.K. Rowling always makes the setting so authentic. Throughout the course of the book, she mentions London landmarks and streets, real current events, and the different types of accents you can find in the UK. In this book, she even mentioned the band One Direction, which gave me a good chuckle.
I enjoy crime novels in general because I am always terrible at guessing the killer, so the ending always comes as a surprise. The ending, or “twist” of this book was much different from the last two books. This is good because it means Rowling isn’t always following the same formula, which can get predictable. I also enjoy novels with dark themes, and it’s both surprising and impressive to me that the author of the Harry Potter books is also the same person that can write about such grisly topics.
All in all, the third installment of the Cormoran Strike novels made for a reallinteresting read, and I’ll definitely continue on with the series when she releases a fourth. Have you read any of the Strike novels? If so, what do you think of them?