Date finished: August 23rd 2016
There’s nothing better than an author you can rely on. When you’re desire to read anything challenging or new is waning and you want something to fall back on, there’s a stock list of go-to authors who can always satisfy, and Robert Galbraith, with this third addition to the Cormoran Strike series, has safely secured his place on mine. I say “his”, it’s J K Rowling writing these really and I never know whether to refer to her or her pseudonym. I’ll stick with Rowling, for now.
Hot on the heels of the Luna Landry and Owen Quine cases, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a third case that hits much closer to home. When a severed leg is sent to Robin with a note quoting Blue Oyster Cult lyrics, Strike is forced to look deep into his past and consider who might want to hurt him and could know such personal meaning to him. He secures a list of three suspects which he and Robin begin to investigate whilst trying to keep the business afloat. But as the body count racks up, Strike and Robin’s relationship is tested to the limit by the danger looming over them…
I hate to compare Rowling’s crime work to Harry Potter, but I have to. Prisoner of Azkaban – the third in the series – was always my favourite. It seemed like Rowling had established the characters and their relationships to one another and now had the confidence to plunge forth and do something that delved further, that tested her characters to their limits, and that turned the established formula upon its head. Career of Evil seems to do something similar, bringing the action closer to home, dredging up her characters’ pasts to inform their presents and stretching their personal and professional lives to breaking point in order to create the most gripping interplay possible.
But it’s not all character history and relationships. The serial killer that Rowling has created in Career of Evil is a grotesque character, leading to some of the most gruesome and repugnant scenes yet related in this series. Not only this, but there’s constant tension and sparking theories at hand as the evidence seems to point to one suspect, then another, then another. It’s non-stop tension, whether it’s case-related or character-led. We’re now emotionally invested in Strike and Robin, as well as their investigations, so the personal drama is just as gripping as the murders.
The Cormoran Strike series continues, with its third act, to be one of the cleverest, most unputdownable series out there, and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon by now, then you sorely need to. This is one of the most reliably entertaining and sleep-ruining series out there, written by an author whose best is still yet to come.