Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Book review: Career of Evil

Writing under a pseudonym must do wonders for J.K. Rowling's writer's block, because unlike the big gaps we used to get between Harry Potter books, the Cormoran Strike crime novels she writes as Robert Galbraith have been coming out pretty regularly. The series is in part Rowling's way of talking about the weirdness of fame, and where the first two books saw the private detective solve cases involving famous people, in Career of Evil it's his own fame thanks to those cases that kicks everything off: A serial killer with a Blue Öyster Cult fixation has made it very clear he or she has a particular beef with Strike, who thinks his recent appearances in the papers have stirred up someone from his past with a grudge. And since his past was in the military police, he can come up with a decent shortlist of suspects just off the top off his head.

The book opens with Strike's assistant Robin receiving a severed leg as a special delivery, but despite early word being that this was the goriest of the novels so far, I'm not sure it quite overtakes The Silkworm's ritual eviscerations. The creepiest element is probably Robin delving into the world of acrotomophilia, investigating people either attracted to amputees or, particularly in this case, people who want to have their own limbs amputated. Having lost a leg in the Middle East, Strike is unsurprisingly unsympathetic, particularly to a very odd couple they meet during their investigation. Despite a fairly small pool of suspects this is another good mystery with a few red herrings and perilous moments - this being someone happy to kill off dozens of characters in a children's series, you can certainly imagine Rowling wouldn't hesitate to get rid of one of her popular leads in a grisly adult series.

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