Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The third entry in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil, shows off J. K. Rowling experience with creating intriguing mystery that keep the reader guessing until the last chapter. Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, Rowling is free to explore more violent scenarios and develop a new set of engaging characters without the shadow of Harry Potter looming over her work. It is hard not to make a comparison and see that one of the really captivating parts of the successful wizard series was the mystery solving and detective work the young students went through at the school.

I enjoyed both of the previous to entries in the series which focused on the publishing world and the modeling and music industry. This book is a more personal book for both Cormoran Strike and his part Robin Ellacott. 

The darker side of Rowling's imagination certainly comes out as this book begins with the delivery of a severed leg to the office of Strike and Robin's detective agency. I always enjoy hearing about their lifestyle, how Cormoran lives above the office and Robin uses her skills to trail a mark but in this novel everything is upheaved with the killer targeting Strike personally.

There are three suspects that are investigated each with a personal grudge against Cormoran. Through this investigation, the reader finds out more about Cormoran's past. Many reviewers complain that now Rowling is so famous, she doesn't edit out enough scenes but there was hardly ever a point when I was bored or thought the book was too slow. Rowling is a master at moving a plot forward and giving just enough clues. This book is paced differently than the first two but mostly because of a wedding she had been putting off in the first two of the series.

While I thought I had this one figured out, Rowling always delivers enough of a plot twist to make me suspect I might have it wrong. The only reason I got to the bottom is that I have become so familiar with the way the mysteries are laid out and I strain my eyes to decipher the subtle clues within the text. 

I especially liked the development of Robin's character. She has always been so helpful to Strike, and it had been very interesting to see their relationship grow and experience conflict as the strain on the business rises. I do think some readers will find her past experiences controversial, but authors often risk upsetting readers when writing about uncomfortable situations.  

Another series that is so similar to this one I wanted to recommend to curious readers is the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson starting with Case Histories. Both protagonists have remarkable military pasts and solve mysteries that seem impossible. I have enjoyed both and hope these great writers continue to produce more!

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