Review of Career of Evil – A Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith

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I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the previous offerings of J.K. Rowling in the guise of crime writer Robert Galbraith – read my review of The Cuckoo’s Calling here, and The Silkworm here. But would I like this third book in the series?

careerofevilWhen a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

While I wouldn’t call the previous two books cosy mysteries, Galbraith really takes the gloves off in this particular grime-crime storyline, where violence and abuse is doled out on a daily basis. Not, I hasten to add, between our two protagonists, who are thoroughly decent people struggling to do the right thing in difficult circumstances… In fact, during this book we learn some vital facts about Robin’s past that impacts on her upcoming wedding and her wish to become a private investigator alongside Strike.

I have to say that curled up in bed with the worst cold I’ve endured during the last decade, it was this particular story arc that kept me reading. While it is well written and vividly depicted, I wasn’t really up for facing the full consequences of Man’s inhumanity to Man while feeling so ill and depressed. So I’m aware that it is probably my own mental and physical circumstances that mean I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the previous two reads. During this investigation, Strike and Robin trudge through the backstreets, interviewing a succession of people coping with poverty, poor education and ill health, whose lives have been smeared by violence.

That said, the stakes are high and when we are in the viewpoint of the creepy protagonist as he stalks Robin, there is real tension. The story ratchets up to a suitably climactic denouement that also echoes the tumult in Robin’s personal life as her on-off relationship with long-time fiancé, Matt, also reaches a resolution. Galbraith’s writing packs a punch and I will reading the next one, because I want to know what happens to Strike and Robin. But I can’t help hoping the investigation won’t be quite so gritty…
8/10

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