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Career of Evil (A Cormoran Strike Novel) Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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Third book in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
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- Robin, one of the most interesting and likable characters JKR has ever created, co-stars in the novel and her identity is superbly defined
- Strike's backstory is addressed in more detail, and it's very compelling
- The settings are vividly depicted, with excellent descriptions of sites all over seedy and posh London and Northern England
- Heavy topics like rape, child abuse, and mental illness are thoughtfully considered and woven into the narrative without being overly preachy
- The relationship between Robin and Strike continues to develop in a complex, unpredictable way
- The dialog is consistently excellent and realistic
- Much less emphasis on Strike's disability, which plagued the last novel
- The reveal, unlike the first two novels, is not an endless explanatory monologue -- it's thankfully short and sweet
**These positives far outweigh the following negatives, definitely making Career of Evil a worthwhile read. Nevertheless...
- Many of the characters are one-dimensional. While Strike and Robin are increasingly depicted as complicated, multifaceted protagonists, most others are portrayed without any significant depth. The bad guys are REALLY bad; the victims are hopelessly innocent, others just occupy space. Some, like Matthew and Whittaker, are cartoonishly described and Detective Carver is, to put it bluntly, Vernon Dursely
- Someone needs to pluck up the courage and let the author know she needs an editor. The book is downright plodding at times.
- The basic premise of the plot is forced and improbable (BIID? Really?)
- Each chapter leads with lyrics from a Blue Oyster Cult song. These lines figure into the story (sort of), but this silly gimmick gets old fast
- The violence (and there is quite a lot) is gratuitously over the top, as if JKR is determined to identify herself as an adult writer
- The comic element featured in the first two novels is largely absent in the third
- The book features intermittent passages shown from the killer's perspective which are eye-rollingly bad. I hate to say that but it's true. Think of every serial killer you've ever seen in a movie or read about in a book, and that's the stereotype you get -- right down to the killer's referring to a woman as "It" a la Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. These sections are so subpar, so cliched, and so unimaginative that it's hard to believe that JKR wrote them. I suppose they are included to give the narrative an additional angle but, rather than compliment the story's trajectory, they dumb it down.
Despite its drawbacks, Career of Evil is a very good read. Slow at times, but enjoyable. As said above, the positives outweigh the negatives. In particular, the maturing of Robin's and Strike's characters is a leap forward. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is regarded as the most popular one in the series so far, although the hyper-violent yet cliched serial killer may be off-putting to some.
The construction of the story was pure J.K. Rowling, not unlike the last Harry Potter book, in which Harry and Hermione (and sometimes Ron) travel obsessively around England rehashing their ideas while their relationships get deeper, until at last there is a burst of action that throws the story into a different channel. Rowling does love disguises and checklists (not to mention mis-matched couples)!
I look forward to the next Strike novel. Now that the deranged-serial-killer trope and the woman-in-peril trope have been exhausted (I hope), Rowling should find a new kind of puzzle to restore the fortunes of her detectives.
I would LOVE to see these turned into series of movies, or even a TV series. I think this has the potential to be as big a success as the Harry Potter series, though obviously for a more mature audience. However, I also loved the Harry Potter series, and I'm obviously not the target demographic for those novels. Given the more "adult" nature of the subject matter of these books, I completely understand the reasoning behind writing with a pseudonym to delay their discovery by the core audience of the Harry Potter series.
I simply could not read these fast enough to suit me, and much like the Harry Potter series, I feel a bit lost in the wind with no more story read at this point... but I'm hopeful that another is in the works for this series