(Cormoran Strike #3) Robert Galbraith (pen name for J.K. Rowling’s crime series) sets off at a lightning pace right at the beginning of this third instalment Career of Evil. In the first chapter we already learn that a serial killer has his sights set on Robin Ellacott as his next victim. Then in the next chapter a woman’s severed leg (crammed into a postal box) is delivered to Robin’s office where she works for Cormoran Strike, who is a private eye and Afghanistan war veteran. This tale does take a darker turn then the previous two. But there’s plenty of character development and humour as well.
Like the preceding two novels called The Cuckoo’s Calling (#1) and The Silkworm, (#2) Career of Evil is suspenseful and engaging. Cormoran and Robin continue to take matters into their own hands and at their own peril. I feel that the author is getting into her stride now in this series, and is feeling more comfortable and enjoying herself more. In fact she admitted as much in a recent interview, calling the Cormoran Strike series like “her own private playground.” I did like this one better than the first two, but that could simply be because of familiarity. It is quite widely agreed by reviewers that it is best not to skip to the latest instalment, but start from the beginning if you are new to the series.
In this one, we learn a bit more about Cormoran, Robin, and Matthew’s past and the tensions amongst these main characters deliciously continue. You know, we just want Cormoran and Robin to be able to confront their true feelings for each other, but there are all sorts of complicated reasons why they can’t, and so the tension. Like any (or dare I say all) literary series and/or TV series, tensions are the very thing that keep us coming back for more, so those tensions can’t possible be resolved yet, as much as we would like them to be. I found the ending, in this regard, to be quite cheeky and I wonder what the author meant by it and what she is going to do next! Can’t wait!
J.K. Rowling has a sense of humour. After it became public that Robert Galbraith was a pseudonym for her new crime novel series, she came to the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival dressed in a suit and tie! Rowling has implied that the new series which started with ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, will go the distance as long or longer than the Harry Potter series, with at least six or seven instalments. This second in the series was, in my opinion, way better than the first, so I think she is finding her stride in this genre, and with the characters of Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin. Although I don’t think this series holds any of the genius that she displayed with Harry Potter, I am looking forward to what is coming next. The series definitely now ‘has legs’, a pun in poor taste if you know that the protagonist is a war veteran with a debilitating injury.
‘The Silkworm’ is set in the literary world of authors and publishers and editors, perhaps because the author knows the publishing industry. When Owen Quine goes missing after writing a despicable controversial book, his wife calls Cormoran Strike to investigate. Quine has gone off before, but when it becomes clear that there are several people who are angry about the poisonous portraits he has written into the new book, and when his body is discovered in brutally bizarre circumstances, the investigator realizes there might be several people who wanted Quine silenced. I love how Cormoran gathers all of the suspects into one room near the end and flushes out the culprit – reminds me of the old classic whodunits. Cormoran as a character, in my mind’s eye, kind of reminds me of a younger, more handsome version of Fitz from Cracker (Robbie Coltrane).
Robert Galbraith even has his own website! (Robert Galbraith Website) I especially enjoyed the FAQs there.
In case you missed it in the news, J.K. Rowling wrote another book under a pseudonym to see how her writing would fare without the hype of her very own name attached to it. But the secret was leaked, and the book immediately jumped to the top of the bestseller’s lists. The war veteran’s charity, to whom Rowling committed all of the proceeds because she was touched by their plight while researching the novel, is laughing all the way to the bank. The main character in the story is a wounded war veteran, and the same charity also received a tidy sum from the lawyers who leaked the info, by way of apology to the author. All of this is beginning to sound like a plot for yet another story!
‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ is a nice little crime novel, complete with the requisite characters: 1) the struggling and troubled yet sharp private eye who despite his shortcomings, is still very loveable; 2) the ‘more than a pretty face’ assistant whose intelligence and quick thinking saves the private eye’s backside more than once, and enjoys working for him more than she thought she would; 3) the glam victim who ‘had it all’ but also had some reason to commit suicide; and 4) of course a whole host of dark and shady characters who all might have had a motive to commit murder in case it wasn’t suicide at all. At any rate, a crime novel ensues with a far higher vocabulary and complicated sentence structure than I have ever experienced in a book of this genre before. The Latin in the chapter headings should have been the biggest clue!
When the leak first hit Twitter, an expert at Oxford was consulted to use his algorithm program to do a little sleuthing work of his own. He submitted for testing, a Harry Potter book, her other non-Harry novel ‘Casual Vacancy’ and a number of other crime novels. The results were conclusive. This book had the same writing style, word usage, and sentence structure as the other books by Rowling, with less resemblance to the other crime novels. Busted!
Aside from all the hype, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ actually was a good read. I especially liked the characters who were believable and well drawn. I do not think that this is Rowling’s best work though. A crime novel should have a bit more suspense and a bit less character development to satisfy the die-hard lovers of the genre. The genius she was capable of in the Potter series has, in my opinion, never been repeated in her other works, but I don’t blame her at all for trying. If Cormoran Strike reappears in a sequel, (and it has already been leaked that ‘Galbraith’ will produce a second in the series) I will definitely want to see what he and his indispensable assistant are up to next!