By now most people know that Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling going under a pseudonym and that she has published a series of crime novels featuring the private detective Cormoran Strike. Career of Evil is the third book in that series. If anyone is wondering why I started with the third book, it’s because it was recommended by one of my book club member’s father-in-law who assured us we didn’t need to read the first two. (He was right).
When Cormoran Strike’s assistant Robin Ellacot receives a severed leg in the mail he suspects that any one of three men from his past might be responsible. The police on the other hand think it is someone else entirely. With the Old Bill on what Strike is convinced is the wrong track he decides to take matters into his own hands with Robin in tow.
Robin, however, has problems of her own. Her fiance is less than thrilled with her line of work, which is causing tension, distracting her from wedding planning and not helping with her desire for Strike to take her just a little bit more seriously.
If that wasn’t enough the combination of the police interest and Strike’s notoriety is scaring off clients and incidents from his past are clouding his judgement.
I’ve never been a great one for crime novels no matter how many of them my dad tried to lend me. I think it’s because I never really like the characters. They’re always so… samey. A hard boiled, emotionally stunted detective with a checkered past and a proto-drinking problem stalks the mean streets seeing connections only he can see while the police stumble about and serial killers dump body parts all over the city. And then there are the female characters who tend to be caricatures who are invariably attracted to the aforementioned detective.
A Career of Evil has all of the above flaws against it. What it has going for it is an ease of reading, a cracking pace and a story that’s interesting enough to carry you through even when both Strike and Robin are driving you nuts.