Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.
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 series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A mystery and also a story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
Oh. My. God.
I just finished this, and I think this is definitely the best by far- and I really, really enjoyed the last one. I know some people hated it, but I disagree on all points, and think Rowling is far from formulaic. If I hadn’t accidentally dropped the book at work, and seen some chunks of the last few chapters, I’d have been guessing until the end… Regardless, I was still second guessing what I’d seen and thought it must be wrong! I’m battling to keep this review spoiler free for you, but if you’re worried, let’s just say that I loved it and you should read it!
I loved how much time we got with Robin in this book, and I found her so much more relatable here. I totally get why she behaved the way she did, and feel that many people would do the same thing in her position. There was so much emotion, so much tension and stress that Strike could have barely guessed at that drove her in this book, and I found it hugely relatable. I wish she didn’t make the one MAJOR decision she did, but again, I truly understand her motivations, even if I disagree with them. She is reacting not only to a violent event in her past, but to current violence, work problems, people treating her like a lesser being than Cormoran simply because she’s a woman, and a family who just doesn’t really understand her. Of course she’s going to be turbulent and make decisions that just aren’t rational.
Strike himself annoyed me slightly, particularly towards the end, and likely more because I felt so closely aligned with Robin’s feelings. His relationship with his new girlfriend, Elin, didn’t sit right, and for good reason. I’m glad that much of the Charlotte angst is over for him, because she was really effing annoying. I like Strike a lot, however, and understand how he feels, especially physically. I was about ready to punch people when he did. I was with him in the Saatchi gallery cafe, raging at those who cannot truly understand the frustration of disability since they aspire to it. I was cheering along when he finally pulls through and does the right thing in the end. I still see him as looking like the bastard child of Vincent D’Onofrio and Rebus though!
I do like how their personal and professional lives have grown and shifted around each other, and that they have become far more comfortable, yet in the same way, uncomfortable, around each other. It’s such an interesting dynamic and I can’t wait to see where it ends up.
As for this killer… he actually scared me. Even though the murder in The Silkworm was grisly, the misogyny and outright hatred that drives the killer in this novel was far more frightening. I didn’t particularly enjoy his chapters, because I hated being in his head, but they were enlightening and kept me jumping from suspect to suspect. I did lean towards the right suspect for most of the book, even before I accidentally saw his name, because his past known crime was so abhorrent and fitted his MO. I also didn’t think the other two entire fitted the crime, even though they were both as disgusting in their own ways. However, I totally did not expect him to be where he was. That hit me by total surprise and the implications of it were shattering.
I hated Matthew in this book almost as much as I hated the murderer. In his own way, Matthew is almost as despicable, but of the most insidious, garden variety misogynist hiding behind a pretty veneer and urban normality, not the raging serial killer type. I’m struggling to decide which is more damaging. Matthew, who represents safety to Robin, is as repulsive in his misogyny, because it is so common and so accepted. He sees it as his business to tell Robin what shoes to wear (“Matthew didn’t like her too tall”), who she should be working for and accuse and implies that she either is, or will be, unfaithful because of Strike. What is frightening is that for many people, his behaviour is normal, even excusable. He delights in her failures and masks it as concern. He abuses her trust repeatedly and goes way beyond what a partner should be doing with the others belongings, to the point that Robin is consciously making sure he can’t get at her things and invade her privacy. He deliberately tries to sabotage her, for heavens sake! That’s not something that ANY partner, let alone someone who apparently loves you and says he wants to marry you!
It’s a mark of a good book that it can make you giggle, cringe, become thunderous and then grin stupidly at the page within a couple of chapters. This one had me doing just that, and I enjoyed (almost) every second of it. My only criticism is that I didn’t like the killer chapters very much, as I preferred the flow of Robin and Cormoran’s points of view and didn’t like them interrupted to go into the mind of a sadist. Other than that, I loved it, and stayed up way past my bedtime for two nights running to keep reading!