Review: Career of Evil

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith
Published by Sphere on the 22nd October 2015
Pages: 494
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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.

Here I am, life-long J.K. Rowling fan, to tell you that she can do no wrong and genre-cross like it’s nobody’s business (by now we all know that Robert Galbraith is J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym, right? Right?). Career of Evil is arguably the best book of the series thus far. It is certainly the darkest and most gruesome. There is a slight departure from the procedural feel of the first two books, with Career of Evil being more character-driven. We finally delve deeper into Robin’s backstory (!!!), which I appreciated.

In the acknowledgements, Galbraith mentions that this is the book (s)he’s been the most swept up in while writing, and you can tell this by the writing. Unlike the first two books, which were focused more on fame, Career of Evil focuses on misogyny and violence against women: rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse – it doesn’t really let up.

I think what made me love this book so much is the fact that for the first time in the series, Robin is able to step out from Cormoran’s shadow. I loved Robin right off the bat, and have been eagerly waiting for more.This book, for all intents and purposes, is Robin’s story. In a story about women who have been raped, women who have been abused, women who have been tortured and beaten, women who have lost all hope, Robin is a shining light leading them home. I loved her tenacity, her strength, her constant need to grow, her unwavering loyalty, her ambition and her kindness. Robin’s growth in this novel was astronomical, and as a reader, I was thrilled.

What turned this book into a four star read for me was, primarily, the decision to include chapters from the killer’s point of view. They were quite sadistic and hateful, and gave the reader an insight into the mindset of the killer. However, I’m not entirely convinced that it worked – while nothing about these chapters gave away the killer’s identity (which it could’ve easily have done), after awhile it felt quite repetitive and almost forced.

The other factor into my four star rating was Matthew. Oh, Matthew, you deeply unpleasant man.You were blundering but well-intentioned in The Cuckoo’s Calling. You were slightly, uh, odd in The Silkworm. But your controlling, manipulative ways and raging jealousy in Career of Evil has pushed you into irredeemable territory. It was mildly horrifying to watch Robin marry you after everything you pulled in this book.  But Matthew felt too nasty, too one-dimensional: he felt like a cardboard cutout villain standing in the way of a Robin/Strike romance (it felt like that was where the novel was heading, and if so, I’m not entirely sure I can jump on that ship).

Overall, a compelling read, I can’t wait for the next one! Although, given my love for Rowling, we probably knew that was going to happen.


Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.

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