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CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith: Book Review

I’ve come to the conclusion that when writing talent was handed out, Robert Galbraith/aka J. K. Rowling stood in line twice.  That’s the only explanation I can come up with to explain how the gifted author of the Harry Potter series can also be the gifted author of the Cormoran Strike series.

As Career of Evil begins, Strike and Robin are riding high professionally.  Their two previous cases have garnered them great publicity, especially since they captured the killers ahead of Scotland Yard.  Personally, too, things are going well for them.  Strike is dating now that his on-again, off-again romance with Charlotte is definitely off.  And Robin’s wedding is only a few months away.

All this success comes to a quick halt, however, when Robin opens a package addressed to her at work and finds a woman’s leg inside.  She and Strike are obviously horrified.  Strike immediately contacts Detective Wardle of the Yard to help them find the messenger who delivered the box to Robin.

The resultant publicity has the effect of clients terminating their contacts with Strike and Robin; who would want to work with a firm involved in such a distressing situation?  Besides, all the newspaper photos and television shots have made their undercover work impossible.

Strike mentions four people to Wardle as possibilities for wanting to hurt him by targeting Robin, but he tells Robin that in his mind he has already eliminated one of them, a gangster who was sent to jail on Strike’s testimony.  The remaining three, to his mind, are much more dangerous:  Donald Laing, a convicted sociopath; Noel Brockbank, a child abuser and rapist; and Jeff Whittaker, Strike’s mother’s second husband and thus Strike’s stepfather, an abusive drug user who preys on women.

Needing to investigate all three men, Strike reluctantly agrees to let Robin do surveillance on one of them.  Robin is eager to do more detective work than Strike has previously given her, and she’s ready to prove her worth.  But this assignment has to be kept from her fiancé Matt, who has been vehemently against her employment with Strike from the beginning.  Indeed, the tensions between Robin and Matt have been increasing steadily over the past few months as their wedding approaches.

Career of Evil delivers everything that makes an excellent novel:  a gripping plot, believable characters, and a pace that doesn’t stop.  In this mystery we learn more about Strike’s and Robin’s backgrounds, information that helps us understand what motivates them to do the things they do.  In addition to the two protagonists, the secondary characters are wonderfully drawn:  Matt, who loves Robin deeply but made a devastating mistake in his past that has come back to threaten their relationship; Robin’s mother, wanting her daughter’s happiness but fearful of the dangers she puts herself in; and the three men whom Strike and Robin are investigating.

Robert Galbraith has written the third in a series that grows better with each book, something that given the perfection of The Cuckoo’s Calling would seem impossible.  Robert Galbraith/J. K.Rowling has done it again.

You can read more about Robert Galbraith at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.