Most people know that Robert Galbraith is actually JK Rowling. Her latest series chronicles the misadventures of a burly, down-and-out private detective (once SIB in the British military) named Cormoran Strike and his bold red-haired sidekick, Robin Ellacott.
I read the first two Strike books: The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, and decided to try Career of Evil as it was recommended by a librarian who said it was “good, yet rather disturbing”. (And it jumped off the shelf behind me in the library with a huge thwack!. You cannot ignore things like that.)
Disturbing it is, with its glimpse into the world of wannabe amputees and a serial killer who gets turned on by slashing bits off his female victims for titillating keepsakes. Strike, himself, is an amputee, having lost his leg in a bombing in Afghanistan. He’s a sympathetic character: a veteran who tromps through London, with an aching stump and a prosthesis, trying to solve murders while keeping his brassy sidekick safe–because, of course, they are secretly in love and can’t admit it– and his business afloat. By the end of the book, he is virtually jobless and penniless (and he could use a shower). Both Strike and Robin spend hours and hours hanging around a sick grimy landscape of poverty, addicts, and prostitutes, a place where he can blend, but she cannot. Perhaps we all need a shower.
I made the mistake of borrowing a large print hardcover thinking it would be easier on the eyes; it was, but what a nightmare to read in bed. At 752 pages, it was close to the weight of my laptop and tough on the wrists. I almost gave up part-way through. I had difficulty following the stories of the three men Strike was convinced could be responsible for the heinous hacking because they all hated him for ruining their lives. Complicated by backstory, and my late night reading habits, I’d forget who did what to who. In fact, after the big reveal, I had to leaf backwards to the pages that connected Strike to the killer in order to make sense of it.
Have you read the Strike novels? What was your experience?