I’ve been waiting for the release of the latest Cormoran Strike novel, Career of Evil, since finishing The Silkworm. Written by J.K. Rowling under her pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, I have not been alone and was soon as she announces when the next one will be released, I’ll be preordering that one as well. This third novel in the Cormoran Strike series provides an intriguing introspective character study of the series’ two main characters as well as delivering a seductive and deliberate game of cat and mouse.
Like the previous installment in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil picks up several months after The Silkworm’s conclusion. Cormoran’s business is in decent shape thanks to the high profile successes with the Lula Landry and Owen Quine murders. His secretary-assistant-deputy-detective Robin Ellacot is approaching the rescheduled date for her wedding and is taking a more active role in the agency after having completed a number of courses in everything from counter-surveillance to self-defense. But none of those courses could prepare her for receiving a package containing the dismembered leg of an unknown woman upon arriving to work one morning. Cormoran has a few ideas of men from his past as far as possible suspects go—yes, he can think of at least three men who he believes are capable and willing to send body parts to his office.
The case at the heart of Career of Evil, unlike those from the first two novels of the series, has Cormoran and Robin at the center. In addition to the chapters told from Cormoran and Robin’s perspectives, there are carefully written chapters from the murderer’s perspective as he rides the ups and downs of his intricate plan to harm Cormoran’s business and reputation—carefully written because the clues to the murderer’s identity remain subtle and even if the reader guesses correctly, there are certainly elements that require further explanation (I ended up being half right in the end).
Because Cormoran and Robin—and their evolving working/personal relationship with each other—is front and center, Career of Evil delves deeper into the personal backgrounds of both characters. We get more insight into Cormoran’s life growing up with his famous groupie mother—particularly his life in his late teens—as well as the specifics of several cases he worked during his army days. The reader is also treated to insight into Robin’s relationship with law enforcement, the origins or her desire to become a detective, and what helps to drive her. Both battle the demons of their pasts and must come to terms with how it colors their view of the present—and how they might inadvertently let them color their futures.
There are two things I am hoping for when it comes to the next book in the series: 1) I hope that the wait will not be too long (though the pattern seems to be publishing one a year so far; that I can live with so fingers crossed it won’t be longer than a year until the next) and 2) that there won’t be as much of a time jump between this book and the next within the story (there is some fallout and character reactions related to revelations/events in those last three or four chapters that I really hope we get to see right off the bat in book four).