Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
7th Dec 2015
Its dramatic twists, worthy of a Victorian thriller, do nothing to hide its clunky plot and stilted dialogue.
Many contemporary crime novelists, like Paula Hawkins, draw on Scandinavian influences to produce characters with the right balance of inbuilt neuroses and trauma-related bullishness. But Rowling has chosen to use a cluster of familiar tropes to produce a caricature of a 21st Century gumshoe.
The macabre plot showcases imagination that harks back to the novel’s Harry Potter heritage. One example is a severed leg being delivered to Strike’s office which leads him, and his surprisingly relatable assistant Robin, on a dark, complicated journey towards the culprit.
The macabre plot showcases imagination that harks back to the novel’s Harry Potter heritage. With regards to the case, readers are left satisfied at the reinstating of the status quo, which Rowling delivers in a manner reminiscent of a pulp novel. And, at the same time, she gives her main characters, the one-dimensional, one-legged former soldier and his feisty sidekick, a messy, soap opera-esque disaster to deal with.
The constant references to the romantic interest between the two protagonists are skillfully interwoven with the plot do not detract from the main narrative. But their frequency does leave the reader questioning whether they are strictly necessary.
Ultimately, this is a standard, easy-to-read modern thriller. Cormoran Strike will never become a classic figure in this genre. But as an easy, post Potter read (in anticipation of the next instalment of that particular franchise), this is not a bad novel.
Although none of Rowling’s novels as Galbraith are anything spectacular, they do serve to bring crime fiction to the attention of a legion of fans of the boy wizard. And so, as a means of exposing them to a different genre, they do it no great disservice.