Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith. Mulholland Books (Little, Brown and Company), New York; 2015. Hardback. 497 pages. ISBN: 978-0-0316-349933-2.
I was reading and just finished Career of Evil, the third installment in Robert Galbraith’s* mystery series. Detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott receive a severed leg at the office and it soon becomes apparent that someone from Strike’s past is trying to destroy him through Ellacott. The plot twists several strands into the tale of a serial murderer and provides the reader with welcome information about the histories of the protagonists. We learn about some of the old SIB cases Strike believes have come to back to haunt him and find out the details behind Ellacott’s withdrawal from college. Interwoven into this tapestry are the impending nuptials of two couples: those of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the later ones of Ellacott and her fiancé, Matthew Cunliffe.
The complexities of the plot allow Galbraith to highlight various kinds of violence against women and the different ways women react to it. While none come away unscathed, it was a relief to see some of the women fight back. Ellacott particularly shows unexpected strength, extricating herself from an attack from which we at first expect Strike will have to rescue her.
The narrative suffers, though, from too many ostentatious lacunae, too many places where we are told someone will do something in a way that almost taunts us with the awareness that vital clues are being withheld. And in the end, the resolution rests on Strike failing to see something that turns out to have been too much right before his eyes for us easily to believe he could have missed it.
Despite these flaws, Career of Evil is still a good read and, as a part of the kind of longer story that unfolds in a series, provides another layer of foundational information on which to continue to build more exciting mysteries for Ellacott and Strike to solve.
*Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling