From 1997 to 2015.
From Harry Potter to Strike.
From children’s literature to PG-13 (or 18? All the same.)
From building a dream world of magic to tearing a world down to ugly pieces.
And yes. From J.K Rowling to Robert Galbraith.
And she has done it again. Haunting me for days without giving me a break for no reason. It’s the same sensation of when I read most of the Harry Potter series, and of course, the first two of Strike series, particularly Cuckoo’s Calling.
Personally I think “The Silkworm” (which I also gave 5 stars on Amazon) is not quite as good as “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” While the topics it has raised are significantly more sensational and daunting than Cuckoo, I always think that the storytelling part is not as compelling.
And then there begins the Career of Evil. Sort of a good combination of Cuckoo and Silkworm – while its plot is simpler than Cuckoo, its pieces, and even joints, do fit together firmly and contribute to the climax, in the way only the Harry Potters can do. Combined with its peculiarity and grisliness which makes Owen Quine’s death looks like a child’s game, it feeds you with drugs and strangles you with ropes and you experience this bizarre happiness of not able to breathe.
The story is straightforward enough. Someone hates Strike to guts and wants to revenge it on Robin. There are three and only three suspects. Donald Laing the domestic abuser. Noel Brockbank the pedophile. Jeff Whittaker who kills Cormoran Strike’s mother. Apart from them there are so many other psychopaths, including the victims. What strikes me the most is still the BIID disorder. I can’t imagine how it feels like to crave one of the body parts removed, yet I certainly have, in rare scenarios, daydreamed what it would feel like if I’m disabled. And the killer’s obsession with human body parts as tokens. It was hard to swallow when he took a victim’s ear with him… with the ice-cream cone earring still on it. It’s so grisly that it’s sort of decomposing the belief that the world has good things to offer. And this belief was mostly built on the Harry Potter series, which tries so hard to portray a world where love and courage always win the game.
In this book, the subtly developing relationship between Strike and Robin is finally admitted by Strike. He finally admits to himself that he fancies Robin in the romantic way – my applause here. Meanwhile both characters have been developed steadier on their own. Robin’s backstory sort of came to me as a shock, although when reading the first two books I actually had always suspected it. But while I have always loved her for her bravery and the ability of getting around with people, I always think that she is too perfect to be real. In this book, however, we finally identify with her for her fragility, and how much she tries to hide it by being the perfect girl I’ve seen in the first two books. All of us do that. It seems that Rowling (not quite Galbraith) is particularly good at portraying girls from a more inferior position, suffering every kind of prejudice and being sensitive about them, but still fighting her way through the stormy world with her head up high (the other example is obviously Hermione Granger.)
And what can I say about the staging of the plot, what Rowling, now Galbraith is best at? Just one example among many: in Strike’s brief interview with the culprit’s once-roommate, the roommate mentioned about a theft of “Mrs. Williams'” house, which she believed was not done by the culprit. And then we knew that the victim’s sister’s boyfriend was called “Ray Williams.” Both facts were mentioned very briefly, so I never bothered to put two and two together. So when they fit, I can only be amazed.
In all, Career of Evil is a great book. One of the most haunting I’ve ever read.
Yes it has been 15 years and Rowling becomes Galbraith and magic world becomes crime scenes but… she is still extremely capable of this. Crashing my mind like it’s a bug. And she’s done it again.