Published: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Read from June 13 to July 1, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.
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…
Career of Evil is the third in the series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A mystery and also a story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
Note: Despite how long it has taken to post, this review was originally written the day after I'd finished the book.
So far I've been impressed by the way each Cormoran Strike book feels unique. I don't read many mystery series, but one of the reasons I decided I wasn't interested in reading more Sherlock Holmes after the two I did read was because what I had read felt too similar to each other for me to care for the next one. I haven't felt the same about the Strike books, and I'm hoping that I won't in the future either.
This mystery is personal to Strike in a way the mysteries of the previous two books were, with the suspect targeting Strike and Robin directly. I think that worked to the story's benefit and helped with developing Robin and Strike as characters. We get to see both of them emotionally affected in ways we don't in the first two books, and we also learn more details about their pasts, especially Robin's. There had been hints about something making Robin drop out of university, and while the reveal wasn't shocking (as I had more or less figured it out before the reveal), I appreciated hearing her story and seeing how it was handled.
For two books, there has been something of a love triangle between Strike, Robin, and Matt, and that becomes a larger part of the story in this one. I think that's a good idea largely because I don't think the love triangle can be drawn out over too many books without getting old. Don't expect the triangle to completely resolve itself in this book, but it is a larger focus. After this one, I feel like it must have a conclusion of some kind in book four. And that's what I hope for since I don't think I want it to last longer than that. I'm not a big love triangle fan, and it's getting frustrating to read.
There isn't a scene featuring Matt where I'm not thinking, "Why do you want to marry him, Robin? That's a terrible idea." Honestly, all I want is for her to dump Matt. I don't care if she gets with Strike or not.
As for the mystery the book revolves around, it seemed really obvious to me that one of the three main suspects was guilty by the halfway point in the book. It was so obvious to me, in fact, that I knew I had to be wrong, and lo and behold, I was. The piece of evidence that made it feel obvious to me was never given an explanation, and I'll probably be frustrated by that forever. How could there be such a clear connection if it didn't mean anything? That was a small detail all things considered, but it was enough of one that it bothers me that it wasn't addressed.
Overall, I'd say that the mystery itself didn't feel as intricate as the mysteries of the last two books, and I wasn't as impressed with the reveal. This book seemed more focused on developing Robin and Strike as characters, though, and I can appreciate the book's value for that within the series. I appreciated them being developed into deeper characters.