Robert Galbraith’s (better known as J.K. Rowling) third novel in the Cormoran Strike series is by far the grisliest novel of the series. It opens with Robin Ellacott, Strike’s assistant and partner, being delivered a woman’s severed leg with haunting lyrics from Blue Oyster Cult’s”Mistress of the Salmon Salt” indicating that Robin could be next.
Strike identifies three suspects from his past who are all equally capable of such a horrifying crime: his creepy, junkie ex-stepfather, a known pedophile that Strike put behind bars, and a former army colleague who beat his wife and left her for dead. Both Robin and Strike begin the search for the killer and the victim, but little do they know that someone else is stalking them.
The most chilling parts of this book are the chapters that take place in the mind of the killer. A violent misogynist who calls his partner “It” and knows how to manipulate others, the killer begins stalking Robin and plotting her murder as a means of getting back at Strike for a long ago offense. Naming her The Secretary, the killer fantasizes her violent murder while also attacking several others in the process.
The killer’s overt misogyny is only accentuated by the more casual misogyny of Robin’s own fiancé, Matthew Cunliffe, whose jealousy over Robin’s job, her newfound independence and confidence, and her close relationship with Strike drives him to undermine and manipulate her throughout the novel.
Career of Evil also shows the reader a different side of both Robin and Strike. We get a backstory into why Robin dropped out of school, and learn that Strike believes his mother was murdered by his stepfather (not accidentally overdosed as we originally thought). This book also surfaces the inherent romance between Robin and Strike, something that lay simmering underground for the last two novels.
J.K. Rowling is a master of villains and heroes, and she doesn’t need a magic wand to spin her own kind of magic.
Career of Evil is available in hardback, paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com.