I have been looking forward to the latest in the Cormoran Strike series for some time – almost exactly a year in fact, since I finished The Silkworm, a fantastic and rather vicious take on the publishing industry amongst other things. It’s doubly exciting for me in fact, as it’s usually published the day before my birthday – and it did not disappoint! I adore the set up – the grumpy and usually hungover Strike, paired up with the young and idealistic Robin Ellacott, and as anyone who’s picked up a Harry Potter knows, JK Rowling, the genius behind Robert Galbraith, spins the most fantastic of yarns with plot twists coming thick and fast.
We’ve been warned that this is the most brutal of the Robert Galbraith books and it certainly was! Within a few pages, a woman’s amputated leg has been delivered to Strike’s assistant Robin – a scene not for the faint-hearted (or indeed, let’s be honest, not really suitable for me – I’ve been known to faint during gory scenes in books). Strike can think of four people who might potentially do this – a gangster he helped put away, a ex-squaddie who was domestically abusing his wife and child, a paedophile and Strike’s dead mother’s husband – who Strike is convinced murdered her, despite the fact that he was acquitted. All are violent and all hate Strike. With much of their business frightened off by the negative publicity of the leg, Strike and Robin have plenty of time to investigate, but hindered at almost every turn by the police, most of whom bear a grudge against Strike for showing them up so frequently. When it becomes clear that Robin is the target, rather than Strike, he struggles to keep her safe as well as solve the case.
Career of Evil is also interspersed with the point of the view of the murderer, who we learn is a terrifying misogynist and an utter sadist who has killed many times, almost out of boredom. Also complicating matters is Robin’s impending wedding to Matthew, who goes from controlling bore to controlling villain. We also get more of a look into Robin and Strike’s backgrounds, with some insights into why Robin hasn’t chucked Matthew long ago, and the story of Strike’s mother, a groupie who died in suspicious circumstances.
This is a much darker plot than Galbraith’s previous books, exploring sexual abuse, paedophilia, domestic violence and the desire to amputate one’s own healthy limbs… It does however contain the touches of humour we’d expect, such as the farting chair in Strike’s office – childish but funny recurring gag, the ‘Nutter’ file for odd letters and a client who insists on constant supervision for his demonstrably faithful girlfriend. The relationship between the two characters – the inevitable will-they-won’t they – is endlessly entertaining and heartwarming all at once, and I always look forward to seeing Strike and Robin again – especially off the back of the complete and utter cliffhanger we’re served!
Just a year to wait…
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith is out now, published by Little, Brown