Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3)
Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
Mystery | Horror | Thriller
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…
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Public service announcement: this is going to be long, because I have a lot to say and nobody to discuss it with. Brace yourselves.
This was undoubtedly my most anticipated release of this year. I read the first two books in the Cormoran Strike series last year, and I greatly enjoyed them both, the second one more so than the first. I had grown attached to our protagonists who are unlikely yet brilliant heroes in their own right. Cormoran Strike is a large, gruff war veteran with one leg, a tendency to chain smoke and his detective agency office as a home. Robin Ellacott is an attractive woman in her mid-twenties, engaged to a handsome man, working for Strike for a low pay, who is infinitely bad-ass and has a mind that can be paralleled only by Hermione Granger. So I was very excited to get back into these characters’ lives, and to see what Rowling had in store for me this time around.
And let me assure you: I was not disappointed. This is a big book- it’s a little under 500 pages, but I flew through it in four days, despite having two midterms. After the turn of the last page, all I wanted to do was call Rowling up and demand to know what happens next, because I can’t possibly wait another year to get my hands on the fourth installment. It was completely satisfying– bloody, gory, disturbingly twisted, yet intelligently crafted with a brilliant conclusion and a last sentence that will go down in all of history to be one of the best.
I will point out, however, that this book can be a huge trigger if you don’t go into it expecting what it contains. It revolves around a serial killer who despises women, who takes an obscene amount of pleasure in hurting them in disturbing, violent ways. It is not easy to digest for anyone. It discusses themes of sexual abuse, sexual violence, misogyny and pedophilia. And it is NOT for you if you can’t digest graphic scenes.
So I already told you what this novel revolves around, and I’m not going to repeat it. This book is fast-paced through and through. Rowling shoves us right into the action – within the first ten pages, you have already gone through one murder and the mailing of a severed leg. After that, the suspense is almost tangible. By alternating between three points of view (Cormoran’s, Robin’s and the killer’s), she paints a vivid picture of what’s going on without ever giving too much away.
I think the best part about this novel is how you’re constantly trying to figure out who the killer is because of the clues Rowling lays out. And you think you’ve got it, but wait, maybe you’re wrong. Then on the 300 page mark, you’re totally sure it’s who you think it is, but then you’re self-doubting yourself again. And in the end, I had no idea who it was going to be, and I was completely taken aback but fully satisfied. The fun thing is that you’re so preoccupied with the clues Rowling hints at and the picture of the killer you have in your head that you totally overlook some other clues that she leaves behind. It’s brilliant.
And dear God. I was not prepared for how terrifying this book is! I picked it up because it was so highly anticipated, but I didn’t realize it was going to be the PERFECT Halloween read. It was gruesome and totally frightening. There were several scenes where the hairs on the back of my neck were standing upright.
The mystery and the thrill was perfectly balanced with Robin and Strike’s personal lives. Their interactions were taken to a whole new level with this book. Rowling provides more details to each of their back stories which furthers their already tremendous characterization and development. Not to mention that their relationship is given more layers with the hinting of a possible mutual attraction. See, I was so sure that I would never ship Strike and Robin in the first two books, but wow. After this one, the fucking ship sailed itself with no effort on my part. And that last page. My heart. My feels. Everything.
I’ve been raving about how awesome Strike is ever since I read the first book. He’s such an unlikely hero. He’s grumpy and gruff and quiet. He dislikes children, he hates commitment, he’s awkward and shy and hot-headed, yet 100% charming. I don’t know how Jo does it, I really don’t because he’s probably my favorite male character of all time now. And that’s saying something. And Robin? She got a lot more attention in this one, and I really appreciated that Rowling took the time to make her qualities also her negative points. She’s kind, sensitive, intelligent, intuitive but totally impulsive and impatient. I disapproved of a lot of decisions that she made, but I understood each and every one of them, which is what great characterization is!
And I have to stress how terrifying and well-developed and completely disgusting the villain was. He is officially at the top of my ‘top villains’ list now because of how despicable he was. I was so terrified of not only him, but the three suspects in general, that I had to keep looking over my shoulder while I was reading this late at night.
And Shanker! I can’t even. Great new character, and I can’t wait to see more of him in the next books.
Bow down to the queen, everybody. I don’t think I can say anything about Joanne Rowling and do her justice. It’s impossible. Her flair, her pacing, her sentence structures. Each word she utilizes is MEANT TO BE THERE, and serves a purpose. The amount of emotion she packs into the spaces between her letters, how she can convey an entire expression with one line of dialogue, how she builds up your feels only to smash them on the floor at her feet and keep you begging for more. It’s been 12 years since I’ve reading this woman’s books. It’s been 12 years and I have cried during every Harry Potter movie/book every time I have seen/read it, and she’s STILL at it. Can this woman do any wrong? I think not.