This book brings me up to date with the three crime novels J K Rowling has written under a pseudonym featuring crumpled Private Investigator Cormoran Strike. And it’s not quite just in time as I wanted to read this book before the two part BBC TV adaptation started. When it wasn’t on over the Xmas and New Year period (which was what I was expecting with a high profile series) I assumed the BBC would be holding it over to show over a Bank Holiday weekend so its sudden appearance on schedules surprised me into borrowing the book from the library.
Now, before you start telling me details of the TV adaptation I’ll let you know I haven’t watched any of it yet. The second of the two episodes was shown on Sunday and both are sitting on my Sky Planner and I am looking forward to see what is done with this (over what seems a short total running time of two hours) as book-wise this instalment is the best of the three.
What I really like about these books is the relationship between Cormoran Strike and temp secretary/assistant/potential business partner (her role has evolved over the series) Robin Ellacott. This took a bit of a back seat in the second novel “The Silkworm” which I did not enjoy as much as the debut “The Cuckoo’s Calling” but it is stronger here than ever before and Galbraith has given us a real character-led crime novel which works a treat. Apart from some short chapters given over to the killer most of what happens is seen from the two main characters point of view (although not through a first person narrative) which on this occasion works very nicely.
The actual case that the pair are working on is, like the last novel, pretty grisly. A severed leg is sent addressed to Robin at the office and it looks as if someone is trying to frame Strike and to put him out of business. Strike has to consider who he has enough for them to want to kill and dismember in an attempt to bring him down and comes up with three main potentials. With the police moving in a slightly different direction and evidence pointing towards a Jack The Ripper-style serial killer on the loose, Strike sets out to solve things himself. The one flaw I encountered as a reader was that throughout I found it hard to distinguish between two of the suspects and did have to keep leafing back to see who was who. I’m not sure if I momentarily lost attention at the wrong place or if they were not clearly enough demarcated when introduced into the narrative. Also, while I am nit-picking Rowling is obviously a fan of US Rock Band Blue Oyster Cult (best known for their 1978 #16 UK and #12 US hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”) using lyrical references to head chapters and within the narrative. Here it seemed a slightly artificial device and I’m not convinced it added much to the proceedings.
Otherwise, giving me as much pleasure as the playing out of the crime strand was Robin’s on and off again marriage preparations, her concerns as to whether she is being seen as an equal partner in the business and effective back story on both characters which has really fleshed them out since “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. Two of the three novels in the Strike series are every bit as enthralling as Harry Potter and I hope, especially now that I am up to date that there will soon be more to come. (There has been talk about “Lethal White” as a title but no release date scheduled). And there is still the TV series to watch – my thoughts on which will appear here soon.
Career Of Evil was published by Sphere in 2015