Book Review: Career of Evil


“You could find beauty nearly anywhere if you stopped to look for it, but the battle to get through the days made it easy to forget that this totally cost-free luxury existed.”Robert Galbraith

Oh wow!

I JUST this minute finished Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling's pseudonym) and I was surprised by the ending.

I like being surprised.

In fact, I can overlook a bunch of flaws if a book ends well.

For instance, this detective story is the most gruesome of the three tales involving Private Detective Cormoran Strike. Gruesome is not my typical thing.

“The story, like all the best stories, split like an amoeba, forming an endless series of new stories and opinion pieces and speculative articles, each spawning its own counter chorus.”

Career of Evil starts with a severed leg being delivered to the detective's office and goes on to follow a killer who has a thing about dismemberment.

And that's only part of the brutality.

While I wouldn't call the descriptions gratuitous, the attacks don't flinch from the violence. If this kind of thing makes you squeamish, I'd suggest a lighter read.

“He possessed a finely honed sense for the strange and the wicked. He had seen things all through his childhood that other people preferred to imagine happened only in films.”

I've only read one detective book this year and while I enjoyed the story, I started the book far too late in the series to catch the subtleties of the character relationships.  Since I've read the previous two books from the Comoran Strike series, I definitely felt  I tracked with Strike and his partner Robin. Their tensions were vividly painted and their personalities continue to develop with greater complexities.

Overall, the cadence of the book moves briskly, like any good thriller.  Take for instance this snippet when Strike is nervously revisiting an old haunt:

"Lighting a second cigarette from the tip of the first, he walked briskly out onto Whitechapel Road, where market stalls stood: more cheap clothing, a multitude of gaudy plastic goods. Strike sped up walking he was not sure where, and some of what he passed triggered more memories: that snooker hall had been there seventeen years had the Bell Foundry...and now the memories were rising to bite him as though he had trodden on a nest of sleeping snakes..."

Keep it moving.

That's the theme of this story and it is, indeed, a page turner.

There is a handful of suspects who move in and out and some of them are a bit flat and indistinct. This is only a complaint in that several times I lost track of who was who (all of them have careers in evil) and found myself having to revisit their stories.

In the end, like all of Rowling's Galbraith's work, the story pulls together nicely. I'd love to share more plot points, but I don't want to spoil a thing. Take a read for yourself!