17 January 2016

Books: Career of Evil By Robert Galbraith (2015)

“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 running out for the two of them.”

As I read Career of Evil, the latest thriller from Robert Galbraith –J.K. Rowling- I can further sense why fans of Harry Potter may not be interested in reading this series. The characters in these books are mean, including the heroes, and the tales are lurid and extremely unpleasant. Even though the Harry Potter books did show a dark part of life, that death was always just around the corner and people where ignorant, racist, and evil, but in the genre of fantasy, readers don’t notice the disquieting undercurrent so much. This can be why fantasy and science fiction work so well, insofar that while the writers do balance out their fantastical worlds with real human issues; the fantastical worlds are just that –a fantasy. 

But with these Cormoran Strike books (and even her Casual Vacancy novel), the author fully puts the mean streets of England on display, using course words and with darkness hiding very openly in the light. So, I could see why fans of Rowling, whom so adore her Hogwarts world, would see these books in conflict with how they perceive the magical world of Harry Potter

There is an interesting dichotomy here. I mean, one does not picture a person like Rowling (which maybe why she originally tried using the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith) associating or even knowing about the people she writes about in these thrillers. You sort of picture her as this high society woman who had nothing once and now is one of the richest people in England. And maybe that’s the point, that maybe before her huge success with those HP novels, she swam and spent time with folks whom have questionable morals. 

I do like that Robin and Cormoran continue to grown in their partnership. There are ups and downs to them (I’m still irritated by Robin’s fiancé, a character I don’t particularly like), and it’s interesting to note that while they genuinely like each other, they’ve not fully yet developed their whole Nick and Nora personas that readers may think they should’ve been by now. I think this slow relationship building feels more real and not designed to placate readers brought up on a diet of detective novels where everyone is getting along by the second book.

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