Career of Evil is the third novel in the Cormoran Strike crime fiction series written by Robert Galbraith, aka the wonderful J.K Rowling. It was published in October 2015 and it made for a very appreciated Christmas present this year! (Thanks again Marc!)
Cormoran’s private detective practice is doing better now thanks to the two well-publicized murders he solved in The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. Robin, his assistant, has become a full-time investigator and is enjoying her work more and more. Little do they know that trouble is brewing, as a vicious killer prepares to take revenge on Strike who has put many a dangerous man behind bars.
When Robin receives a parcel containing a woman’s right leg, it becomes clear that she is in great danger. With the news soon to be all over the press, it becomes essential to find the person behind the gruesome message in a box before he kills again.
What I thought of Career of Evil
I was really looking forward to reading this book and I was not disappointed! It is as clever and fast-moving as the two previous novels of the series.
It is important to know that the Cormoran Strike series is not for the faint of heart. The books are a world apart from the almost genteel Agatha Christie novels where murder is committed as discreetly as possible and with very few gruesome details. The crime in The Silkworm was particularly diabolical and savage but Robert Galbraith takes it a step further in the third book. Career of Evil actually gives the reader access to the killer’s precise thoughts while he is on the hunt and this makes for some blood-chilling paragraphs full of gory details.
These violent extracts make the plot seem more urgent, and I just couldn’t put the book down. I actually read the book a bit too quickly if I’m being honest, and I had to stop about two-thirds through to write down what each suspect was up to so I could work it all out in my head. This lead to me correctly guessing who the killer was (greatly helped by the clues the author purposefully leaves for the reader), but the final revelations still came as a surprise to me because I was far from figuring everything out.
Cormoran and Robin’s relationship evolves a lot in Career of Evil and the reader learns a great deal about their pasts. This gives the pair depth and you achieve a greater understanding of their choices and reactions. In that sense, this novel is far more personal than the previous two as their private lives become entangled with their professional ones.
This extra information on Robin and Cormoran makes up for the fact that the plot is somehow not as tense as the previous novels’. I think it might have something to do with the list of suspects: when Robin is delivered the leg, Strike the ex-SID investigator quickly writes up a list of 4 men from his past who all have reasons to want their revenge on him. He then proceeds to look into their alibis one by one. This makes for narrower scope of possible killers and a less stressful vibe in my opinion, although the suspects’ past crimes are terrifying and thrilling to read.
All in all, Career of Evil is an excellent book that distinguishes itself from The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm all the while staying true to the series. The first book remains my favourite but I’m already looking forward to reading the rest of Strike and Robin’s adventures!