Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them.
Here I am, Rowling's crazed disciple, here to tell you how she's managed to smash it out the fucking park yet again.
I am of the opinion this is her best Strike novel yet. It wasn't like Cuckoo's Calling where we're getting to know Strike and Robin, exploring the Lula Landry case and being welcomed into the world of the detective. It wasn't like Silkworm, which felt like a masquerade of Rowling's feelings on the publishing industry (and where I guessed the culprit, and was gutted about it). This time, the mystery is far more personal, with a woman's leg being sent to Robin, and Strike knowing it was sent by one of three men from his past.
The leg is a perfect tool to finally nail down the fact that Robin is the renegade I had always suspected her to be. We get so much more Robin than in previous books, we read her backstory, and we understand her a thousand times more. I am in love with this woman; I'm in love with her ambition, her constant appetite for growth; I'm in love with her strength, her commitment, and her massive heart. In a novel centred around misogyny and violence against women, Robin Ellacott stands out like a beacon; restless, relentless Robin. What a woman.
With Robin's confidence and determination peaking, Strike is forced to recognise how valuable she is to him as a colleague. His slow realisation of her worth, and his attachment to her, is beautiful, and seeing him really feel for once is glorious. Unfortunately, we have to contend with the pain in the arse that is MATTHEW. I have hated him throughout the series, however he does himself no favours here. Robin's backstory explains why she's been with him for so long, but circumstances reveal him to be a BIG SHIT. I was so angry with him; my aforementioned love for Robin had me screaming DUMP HIM into the pages. If only the killer had targeted Matthew to get to Robin, that would've solved everything. Total arsehole.
One notable difference here is information being drip-fed to us by chapters written from the killer's perspective. This is a new style for the Strike novels, and I felt it was done well. Nothing was given away to confirm the killer's identity; one of the main things he conveyed was his absolute rage, sadism and bloodlust. This really added to the sense of danger brewing, and the suspense created was unreal.
So, no criticisms here, as though there would be. I'm excited to read the next one; although we didn't end on typical type of cliffhanger, it was frustrating and impactful in so many ways. Bring it on, JK.