Career of evil /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Galbraith, Robert, author.
Edition:First North American edition.
Imprint:New York : Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
Description:497 pages ; 25 cm.
Series:A Cormoran Strike novel
Galbraith, Robert. Cormoran Strike novel.
Format: Print Book
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Summary:When a woman's severed leg is delivered to Robin Ellacott, her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, looks into his past to determine who is responsible.
Review by New York Times Review

THE DEATH OF Cedric Diggory is one of the most interesting moments of J. K. Rowling's very, very interesting career. It comes almost exactly at the midway point of the Harry Potter novels, after Harry and his friends have successfully thwarted Voldemort several times already; on this occasion, though, Cedric, innocent of any involvement in their enmity, happens to be present. "Kill the spare," Voldemort says, and there he goes, murdered, the first truly substantial character in the series whose death we see in real time. Children's stories are often powerfully reassuring. You don't control much when you're young, and your fears can be so vivid that it's a relief to see them first adduced and then defeated in a book, a movie. When Rowling wrote the words "the spare," though - a chilling turn of phrase, capturing all the jaded obscenity of Voldemort's violence - she refused to offer any longer the comforting pattern of peril and triumph that she had in Harry's earlier adventures. Not everybody was going to make it back to the shire. What Rowling writes these days, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, are crime novels: the closest equivalent adults have to the apotropaic formula of childhood literature, parading the unimaginable in front of us and then solving it, stabilizing it. It seems clear, perhaps, that Rowling feels at home as a writer in a certain kind of consoling narrative. But it also seems clear that she's honest enough to push back against the self-deceptions that lurk within it. This feeling of resistance is what gives such emotional depth to "Career of Evil," her gripping third novel about the private investigative team of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott, which (especially in its subtle shift of focus toward Robin) achieves a new candor about the gap between solving crimes and repairing their damages. The first two Galbraith books established Strike and Robin's relationship. He's a big, lumpy veteran who lost part of his leg during a stint with the military police in Afghanistan, astute but matter-of-fact and also very attractive to women, despite looking like Beethoven "with a buggered nose." At the outset of the series, his one-man London detective agency needs some temp help, and Robin arrives. She's beautiful, capable if a little shaky in her confidence, and soon enough indispensable. In "The Cuckoo's Calling" and "The Silkworm," Strike and Robin work together to solve the murders of a model and an infamous author - occasion for Rowling to offer some tart interpretations of celebrity culture and literary envy, and more seriously to establish the appealing, believable friendship of her two central characters. As "Career of Evil" begins, a package arrives at their Denmark Street office. It holds a woman's severed leg, plainly a message for Strike, it would seem, given his disability. He comes up with a list of people from his life who might be responsible. (Robin, sounding a bit like Ron Weasley, says: "You know four men who'd send you a severed leg? Four?") Rowling alternates their search for these men with a sequence of dark, finely drawn chapters from the perspective of their psychotic stalker, a murderer of women whose next target, it soon becomes obvious, is Robin. This makes Strike worry, which is the perfect way for Rowling to put new pressure on the pair. Robin's marriage to her high school sweetheart is approaching, but she's ambivalent about it, while Strike doesn't even quite dare to articulate to himself his feelings for his partner. The seamless way Rowling integrates these personal and professional story lines makes "Career of Evil" an absorbing book, pulpy, fast and satisfying. Imperfect, too, in fairness - Rowling calibrated her prose carefully in "The Casual Vacancy," as if to show she could do it, but her old infelicities of language have returned. On the other hand, her powers of observation have grown sharper. She can effortlessly evoke the vulnerability of a teenage girl, for instance, "the slenderness of her twig-like legs," and how it's "emphasized by her clumpy trainers." The previous two books were also observant and engaging, though. When "Career of Evil" feels special - a step forward for a series that has been more concerned with entertainment than complexity at times - it's when the book's attention settles on Robin, finally developed here as a true equal of Strike. There were moments, before, when her character felt thin, tolerating her fiancé's condescension about her job, fretting about whether she might make a career alongside Strike. In fact, as Rowling slowly and masterfully reveals in this novel, redefining a character we thought we'd known, that apparent diffidence stems from a traumatic experience: As an undergraduate, Robin was raped. Suddenly, after three books, we understand why she clings to her irritating boyfriend, and why even modest steps in her career are so crucial to her sense of self-worth. The rape occurred because, as the book heartbreakingly puts it, Robin was "in the wrong stairwell at the wrong time." It's a phrase you could adapt to Cedric Diggory's death, and while "Career of Evil" works superbly as a pure murder mystery, in Robin's development Rowling finds a larger theme, too - the terrible ongoingness and untidiness of life, the ways in which catching a criminal doesn't necessarily finish a crime, only a book. This fresh scope makes for the best novel she has written as Robert Galbraith. It's not Harry Potter; that universe is an irreplicable astonishment. The good news is that its creator evidently has some magic left. CHARLES FINCH'S novel "Home by Nightfall" will be published this month. 'You know four men who'd send you a severed leg?' the detective asks her boss, 'four?'

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [October 11, 2015]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* It's no secret that London PI Cormoran Strike has met his share of disreputable characters. What is alarming is that when a serial killer sends Strike's assistant, Robin, a severed leg, Strike can name at least four acquaintances capable of both the murders and the grotesque communique. The unflappable Robin refuses to step back from her sleuthing, but the violent message does reopen some old emotional wounds, making her particularly intolerant of a stunning confession by her fiancé. Perhaps the darkest of the Cormoran Strike mysteries, Career of Evil tackles misogyny, pedophilia, murder, rape, and body integrity identity disorder. Readers familiar with the popular series written by Galbraith's alter ego, J. K. Rowling, will recognize the author's skill at creating complex tales with immensely rewarding payoffs. She pulls it off again here. The plot involves catching an obsessed slasher before he kills again. The real appeal here, on the other hand, is Robin and Strike's relationship. A contemporary thriller with characters whose emotional journey is just as page-turningly gratifying as the most high-stakes manhunt.--Keefe, Karen Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

More thriller than whodunit, J.K. Rowling's captivating third novel written under her Galbraith pseudonym (after 2014's The Silkworm) further deepens her lead characters, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Strike, who lost a leg during his military service in Afghanistan, was struggling in his career as a London-based PI until, serendipitously, Robin was assigned to him as a temp. The emotional intelligence she brought with her helped him solve some high-profile cases and turn him into a celebrity. But now their partnership faces two serious threats: Robin's fiancé suspects she wants a romantic relationship with her boss, and a serial killer has targeted her as his next victim. The murderer, who has a deep hatred for Strike, begins a campaign of terror by delivering a parcel to Robin at the office, which she assumes contains supplies for her upcoming wedding. Instead, to her horror, she finds a severed human leg inside. Maintaining a high level of suspense throughout, Rowling transforms Robin into a professional equal of Strike's and sets the stage for further complexities in their relationship in the next book. Agent: Neil Blair, the Blair Partnership (U.K.). (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by Library Journal Review

Robin Ellacott is surprised, to put it mildly, when she opens up a package at work to find inside a woman's severed leg. Her boss, PI Cormoran Strike, can think of at least four people who might be angry enough with him to send him a human limb, plus there are numerous others eager to see his detective agency fail. Added to the complicated mix is Matthew, Robin's fiancé, who blames Cormoran for the dangerous situations into which Robin frequently finds herself. Could the ghastly package be connected to letters they've been receiving from people who believe Cormoran, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, voluntarily had his leg amputated? Determined to discover the truth, Robin is distracted by grim memories from her past and uncertain feelings about her impending wedding. Verdict Under the Galbraith pseudonym, J.K. Rowling continues to develop interestingly flawed characters and compelling stories. This time around, the grisly murders take a definite backseat to an exploration of interpersonal relationships and the dramatic revelation of Robin's backstory. A must buy and great for readers of contemporary British mysteries.-Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

J.K. Rowling continues her investigation of the dark sidethis time giving us three gruesomely twisted suspectsin her latest pseudonymous mystery. Robin Ellacott first showed up at hard-living private eye Cameron Strike's office as a temp, but by the end of their second big case (The Silkworm, 2014), she'd become indispensable as a fellow investigator. As this third book opens, she's arriving at work off Charing Cross Road and accepts a package from a deliveryman, thinking it's a shipment of favors for her upcoming wedding to Matthew, the jealous fiance who disapproves of her job. When she opens it, though, she's horrified to find a woman's leg. Someone seems to be using Robin to get to her boss, who's missing a leg himself, having lost it in an explosion in Afghanistan. Strike can think of four men, right off the top of his head, who would be capable of such a horrific thing: the stepfather he thinks killed his mother with a heroin overdose; a famous mobster; and two sick bastards he tangled with when he was an Army investigator. The police immediately go after the mobster, who, on second thought, Strike finds an unlikely culpritso he and Robin set to work tracking down the other three. Rowling is, as always, an unflinching chronicler of evil, interspersing chapters told from the perspective of the carefully unnamed perpetratora serial killer with a penchant for keeping "souvenirs" from his victims' bodies and an unhealthy obsession with Strikeas he follows Robin around London, waiting for her to get distracted just long enough for him to kill her, too. Robin and Strike's relationship continues to be the best part of the series, though perhaps it's too easy to dislike Matthew; readers will be cheering when Robin breaks off their engagement, but of course it won't be that easy to get rid of him. The story has its longueurs, and if Galbraith weren't actually Rowling, an editor might have told him to trim a bit, especially once Strike and Robin close in on their three suspects and start conducting repetitive stakeouts (and especially since the two who aren't Strike's former stepfather are hard to keep straight). The book ends on a cliffhanger worthy of Harry Potter, and Rowling's readers will eagerly await the next installment. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Review by New York Times Review

Review by Booklist Review

Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Review by Library Journal Review

Review by Kirkus Book Review