Audiobook read by Robert Glenister
Mulholland Books (October 2015), hardcover (ISBN 0316349933 / 9780316349932)
Fiction (mystery/crime), 512 pages
Source: Purchased audiobook (Hachette Audio, October 2015, 9781478962670, Audible ASIN B014JXQMEG)
This review contains affiliate links to Indiebound.org.
A few weeks ago, not long after I’d found myself idly wondering when J.K. Rowling’s crime-writing alter ego, Robert Galbraith, would have a new book out, my Shelf Awareness editor sent out a last-minute request for someone to review it. I didn’t respond, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline—and also because I have a policy of reading this series only in audiobook. But I did go straight to Audible and use my last available credit to pre-order it. I love this series for its primary characters, one-legged detective Cormoran Strike and his able assistant Robin Ellacott–the cases don’t matter all that much to me, honestly—and I was happily surprised by the news I’d soon get to spend time with them again.
Career of Evil, the third novel featuring Strike and Robin, doesn’t follow a typical case; the mystery they’re trying to unravel this time has a deeply personal connection. Robin receives a package one morning at the office, assuming it’s something for her upcoming wedding. it’s definitely not. The box contains a woman’s severed leg and a note quoting some lines from an old song by Blue Oyster Cult—both are messages meant for Robin’s boss, and they suggest that the sender is someone very familiar with his personal history. It’s not long before Cormoran comes up with three plausible culprits from his past, and he and Robin set about tracking them down. They don’t have too many other options; the police have been pretty cool to Strike since he beat them to solving two tricky high-profile murders, and the publicity over the severed leg has scared off other clients. The detective agency is running out of money, but that’s giving the detectives plenty of time to figure all this out. And despite her boss’ and fiancé’s fears for her safety, Robin’s not all that unhappy to throw herself into her work as a distraction from her wedding preparations, which are becoming more fraught as the day approaches. I know I said that I don’t read these novels primarily for the plot, but the plot of Career of Evil engaged me more than those of the first two Strike novels. I suspect that’s because it was so much more personal to the main characters, but it also required more attention to the details from me as the reader.
that’s on display here as well, but Career of Evil really should come with a trigger warning for misogynist violence. In an interview on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Rowling said this is the first book that’s given her nightmares during the writing process (and yes, this is the creator of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters and Dementors). The Strike novels have always shifted POV between Cormoran and Robin, but Rowling/Galbraith adds a third perspective this time: that of the serial killer and mutilator of women with a long-simmering grudge against Cormoran Strike. This voice is truly chilling, and as we learn more about Strike’s three suspects, it could plausibly belong to any one of them.
Even writing under another name, Rowling remains incapable of writing short fiction—the Strike novels are doorstops in print, and occupy my drive-time audiobook reading for more than a week. I have no complaints about this—rather, I appreciate that the story’s never rushed, and that there’s time for relevant sidebars that tell us more about Cormoran and Robin. I’d recommend reading this series in order not because of plot sequencing, but because of the way these characters are revealed. in the PCHH interview, Rowling notes that there are elements of their histories that she’s held back till now because they’re more meaningful in the context of what we already know about Robin and Cormoran—and considering the impact they had on me, I think that was a wise choice. Career of Evil ends on a cliffhanger that left me more eager than ever to see these two again. Robert Glenister’s narration continues to be a perfect fit for this series.
Rating: Book and audio, 4 of 5
When 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…
Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
From Chapter One:
“He had not managed to scrub off all her blood. A dark line like a parenthesis lay under the middle fingernail of his left hand. He set to digging it out, although he quite liked seeing it there; a memento of the previous day’s pleasures. After a minute’s fruitless scraping, he put the bloody nail in his mouth and sucked. The ferrous tang recalled the smell of the torrent that had splashed wildly onto the tiled floor, spattering the walls, drenching his jeans and turning the peach-colored bath towels–fluffy, dry, and neatly folded–into blood-soaked rags.”
“Colors seemed brighter this morning, the world a lovelier place, He felt serene and uplifted, as though he had absorbed her, as though her life had been transfused into him. They belonged to you once you had killed them; it was a possession way beyond sex. Even to know how they looked at the moment of death was an intimacy way past anything two living bodies could experience.
“With a thrill of excitement he reflected that nobody knew what he had done, nor what he was planning to do next.”