Of the four titles mentioned in An Abundance of Books for Fall, I’ve now read three. The Hennepin County Library system came through for me big time. In particular, I didn’t expect to see Career of Evil, the latest installment in the Cormoran Strike series, until sometime in 2016. Such is the power of J. K. Rowling, even under a pseudonym. I was pleasantly surprised when it only took a month for my name to come up on the waitlist. Time to be reunited with my favorite private detective and his intrepid business partner. (If you need background on the series, I wrote this post after reading the first two books.)
I went into Career of Evil with some reservations because I liked the second book less than the first. My issue was the amount of gore. I’ve grown to love a good psychological thriller, but grotesque details can be off-putting in large doses. The nature of the crime in The Silkworm helped dictate its tone, so I was hopeful that Career of Evil would take a different route.
Okay, so the story kicks off with Cormoran and Robin being sent a severed leg. Not exactly the stuff of bedtime stories, but I don’t go into a mystery novel expecting rainbows and unicorns. What makes this case particularly interesting is that it’s personal. Cormoran names three men from his past whom he considers capable of sending the leg. As he and Robin investigate these men, we also find out more about Cormoran himself. The unraveling of the two main characters is the true genius of the series, in my humble but strongly held opinion.
One of my favorite sections of the book is when Cormoran and Robin hit the road to investigate a few leads. (As titles go, Cormoran and Robin Hit the Road! would set a very different tone.) Rowling—or I should say, Robert Galbraith—has a detailed grasp of London, but it was fun to see her expand her descriptive prowess to new environs. She must have a master list of pub names somewhere because wherever our beloved detectives may roam, they always seem to end up down the pub. Cormoran is so thoroughly British, and I love it.
At this point in the year, I’ve already given serious thought to my end-of-year lists. I try to be very honest about my yearly favorites, but I give extra consideration before including two books by the same author, especially from the same series. Between book one and book three, Cormoran Strike has given me a dilemma, albeit a very low-stakes one.