Three Is a Charm
After the quiet and unassuming debut of The Cuckoo's Calling in 2013 by a 'new' author Robert Galbraith, the world woke up to the fact that Mr Galbraith was indeed a pseudonym through a social media leak.
Robert Galbraith is none other than the moderately more famous JK Rowling, apparently an author of some wizarding novels. Even without the added gloss and fanfare, the Cuckoo's Calling was a solid debut establishing a new detective in the pantheon of greats.
An assured 2014 sequel The Silkworm followed and there was no doubt that Robert Galbraith was here to stay and we hoped that will be treated to many more satisfying mysteries for him to solve. Without too much of a wait, Rowling released the third serving of the Strike Mysteries on October 2015.
This, dear reader, is a Career of Evil. The Third Cormoran Strike Mystery.
Name: Cormoran Strike
Age: 35 years
Career: Military Police, injured in action, amputee with a prosthetic leg.
Brief Bio: Born out of an illicit liaison between a famous rock star and a 'super groupie'. An ex army officer, Cormoran loses his leg in a AED explosion in Afghanistan. Cormoran's personal life is complicated, having recently broken up with his girlfriend and living out of his office. His only link to his family is his sister Lucy and her family. Curmudgeonly Cormoran is tamed by his newly appointed secretary Robin Ellacott.
He has no contact with his father, but he is listed in his dad's Wikipedia page as his illegitimate son. He is kind and sensitive and has an uncanny ability to put people ease and open up. After the media storm that followed the Lulu Landry case ( The Cuckoo's Calling) Cormoran is now steadily attracting cases but is not popular with the authorities as he succeeded where the Police failed. We learn more about Cormoran in the second book, about his upbringing in Cornwall and his friends as well as his military background. After solving the disapperance of notorious author Owen Quine in The Silkworm Cormoran enrols Robin into an investigative course.
Address: Denmark Street, London
Favorite Beer: Doom Bar
Secretary/Sidekick: Robin Venetia Ellacott
Career of Evil
It a year after the events of Silkworm. Cormoran Strike's successes in the past two major cases are beginning to pay dividends. His practice is picking up and he has more cases to solve. Robin Ellacott who joined him as a temporary secretary in the Cuckoo's calling is now a steady sidekick.
At the end of The Silkworm, Strike gifted Robin for her efforts and her input by buying her a course in investigative techniques. Robin, meanwhile has been proposed by her long term boyfriend Matthew and wedding plans are afoot. Her growing closeness to Cormoran is a steady cause of annoyance to Matthew and is beginning to case rifts in their relationship.
Robin receives a rather gory package at Cormoran's office and is aghast to find a woman's severed right leg. The accompanying note is a quote from the Blue Oyster Cult song 'Mistress of the Salmon Salt' . Cormoran realises it's a reference to his deceased mother who was a well known groupie and a fan of the band. She also had the song tattooed on her leg.
Robin and Cormoran's quest to find the person who the leg belongs to and the possible killer who is sending him messages leads them to four suspects:
'Digger' Malley, a notorious gangster from Cormoran's past, against whom Cormoran had testified and had put away in prison; Noel Brockbank, a perverted soldier from Coromoran's military past, who was discharged after his investigations; An abusive squaddie Donald Laing, whose wife and child were rescued from domestic abuse by Cormoran; and finally his step father Jeff Whittaker who Cormoran suspects has murdered his mother.
While the police focus on the gangster, Cormoran and Robin locate the other three suspects and the investigation takes off. A body is discovered with a missing leg. The suspects all hold a grudge against Cormoran and slowly but surely the Detective pair edge towards the final denouement.
Meanwhile Robin's relationship with Matthew is under strain while Cormoran snags a new girlfriend, an attractive TV presenter.
The book is more gruesome than the previous outings, dealing with the dark corridors of the human mind. It piles a fair bit of suspense as we get to hear the thoughts of the mysterious killer, who starts to stalk Robin with evil intent.
The mystery is satisfying, the suspects evil incarnate and the puzzles are solved with tight rope tension. Galbraith delivers another stunning instalment with growing confidence. The characters own lives are intertwined with the puzzle giving it a meaty content and the loyal reader following the series is left wanting more.
The narrative is fast paced, racing up and down the country. The characters are rich and even the minor ones are well defined and memorable. The thrills are well executed and the tension ratchets up well. There is no doubt that under the Galbraith moniker, Rowling once again demonstrates what a consummate storyteller she is.
Blue Öyster Cult
Career of Evil has recurring quotes from Blue Öyster Cult songs starting with the 'Mistress of the Salmon Salt' from their album 'Tyranny and Mutation'. They are an American Rock Band hailing from Long Island, New York. They started perfroming in a band called Soft white Underbelly in the early sixties and became Blue Öyster Cult in 1971.
They went on to sell over 24 million records worldwide and were one of the early successes of the MTV era. Their unique hook and cross logo is featured in all their album covers.
The TV Series
Fans of the series will be delighted to know that a BBC series is under development. The Cormoran Strike mysteries are set to air sometime in 2017, with filming currently underway of the first three novels.
The Cuckoo's calling is going to be three hour long episodes and the Silkworm and Career of evil both receiving two hour long episodes in the forthcoming series. HBO have acquired the rights for the US broadcast.
JK Rowling will be an executive producer. Various writers will be adapting the source novels for Television.
More to Follow...
JK Rowling is a busy woman. She has just written the screenplay for the forthcoming Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. She has also coproduced and cowrote the record breaking Harry Potter stage debut at the London West End, The Cursed Child.
We have been delighted to receive the previous three Strike novels one year after another, but suffice to say the next one may be delayed. Even the highly industrious and supernaturally talented Rowling has her limits. She has tweeted to say she is hard at work on the next instalments, so fingers crossed for more 'Strike action'.
Meanwhwile if you haven't already, do go and read The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm.
Mystery author Val McDermid interviews JK Rowling at the Harrogate Crime festival
© 2016 Mohan Kumar
Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on November 16, 2016:
Thank you shauna - I have really enjoyed this series and do recommend them. Good to see you here and appreciate your comment.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 16, 2016:
What a wonderful review, Doc! I've not read any of the books in this series. You did a great job of describing the crime at hand without going into the gory details. I had no idea JK Rowling's "other" creative self is so wicked! That speaks volumes of her talent.