Book: Career of Evil

"Career of Evil"

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…

Career of Evil is the latest novel in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellaccott. This fiendishly clever mystery, with unexpected twists around every corner, is also the gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

The last time I had forsaken sleep for a book was when I was reading Harry Potter. The Goblet of Fire came out on a Saturday, but I was only able to pick it up on Sunday–and I read it until the wee hours of Monday morning; thanking my lucky stars that the classes were suspended while I was about to get ready for school without sleep.

It’s been more than a decade since I found a book that I would forsake sleep for, and it had to be another one of J K Rowling’s.

Career of Evil is definitely a page-turner, with each new plot development pushing you to keep reading–to keep picking at the clues to find out who the murderer is. So engaging is the mystery that I kind of resented the parts that dealt more with Robin’s and Cormoran’s relationship.

Frankly, I don’t want Cormoran and Robin getting together. I don’t want any of the unnecessary drama that’s bound to bring. The Cormoran Strike series is my one escape where I don’t really have to deal with a romantic subplot between the leads. Not that it hasn’t been alluded to in the first two books, but I liked how Rowling– Excuse me, Galbraith– didn’t really dive into that unwanted detour.

Of course, I didn’t want Robin to end up with a wanker like Matthew Cunliffe either, but that’s drama I can do with. Because it presents a nice dilemma for a character to have her domestic life and career clash. Although… I do want to punch Matthew in the face every single time he appears on page.

But let’s not devote any more time to a love story that’s never going to happen (I hope). Let’s focus instead on the better plotting (and pacing) of the third Cormoran Strike novel:

Unlike with the cases of Lulu Landry and Owen Quine, the third mystery from the series is a bit more personal for our heroes. Which I really like. Mostly because we get to learn more about the mysterious Cormoran who hasn’t revealed much about his person in the first two books. We’ve always known more about Robin. Career of Evil changes that a bit–especially with the roster of suspects we are presented with, who all have connection to who Cormoran was and sort-of shaped who he became.

The best bit about Career of Evil though? Because the suspects are all people Cormoran have already dealt with before, we quickly get insights and assessments about each character–allowing us to play detective better alongside our heroes.

This is the most fun I’ve had reading a detective novel; actively guessing which of the suspects is the real culprit, using the clues and circumstances that Galbraith presents to allow the readers to solve the mystery with or without Cormoran’s or Robin’s help. And you will be able to guess who the culprit is before the book reveals his identity. Because Galbraith doesn’t hold back on the clues and the evidence. He puts them all down on paper.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a detective, or being an investigative reporter–but want none of the risks that go along with said professions? This is the book for you. It’s exhilarating, enthralling, and most importantly, entertaining.

And I can’t wait to see what Galbraith has in store for us in his next Cormoran Strike novel.

Book: The Silkworm

"The Silkworm"

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days–as he has done before–and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel is published, it will ruin lives–so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

If I were to sum up my reaction to J.K. Rowling’s first novel as Robert Galbraith in one sentence, it would go something like: “the mystery is simple, but the characters and how the author writes them make the book an enjoyable read.”

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was expecting a more elaborate mystery in the follow-up novel. But I didn’t want it to be at the expense of the characters we grew to love in the first novel.

Strike and Robin made a great partnership in The Cuckoo’s Calling. But the same cannot be said for The Silkworm because author Rowling decided to put an obstacle between them that readers are not privy to until halfway through the novel. And that’s when their partnership reboots to where it was at the end of the first novel.

Until you get to that point, you have to struggle through a number of chapters where it’s just Strike trying to make sense of things–and Robin being relegated to just a secretary. A set-up that doesn’t work for the budding detective. And it doesn’t work for me, as a reader, too.

This is not to say The Silkworm is bad. If we were to rate it by Harry Potter books, this would rank between Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince. It is a good enough book, but it’s not going to be a favorite.

Heck, the mystery itself is a lot like the aforementioned Harry Potter books. In which the author has already given the main clue that would unravel the story from the get go. And it’s up to the readers to catch up on the supporting clues before the grand reveal in the end.

Unlike Harry Potter though, or the first Cormoran Strike novel, this installment is devoid of characters you would want to root for. Cormoran is at his hard-headed best, and Robin is mostly in a snitch throughout the novel. And this saddens me because their non-romantic relationship in the first novel was what made me want to pick up a second book.

I’ll still be picking up a third book, I’m sure. I just hope that, with the Cormoran-Robin relationship back to what it was at the end of the first novel, their characters would be growing forward and not going back to what it was when they first met.

Now, these are just my thoughts. Let’s check out what other netizens are saying about the book:
Dark Readers
Mugglenet
London24