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No.9 of #52Stories: Career of Evil — finish or abandon?

15 August 2017
Posted in: 52 stories, Books | Be the first to comment

52 Stories 2017Should you review a book you’re not sure you’ll finish? Don’t know the answer to that one, so I just won’t call this a review.

To be fair, I wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to read Robert Galbraith’s Career of Evil so I can’t exactly moan about feeling let down. It sort dropped into my lap when a friend procured it and asked if I wanted to read it before she got around to it. I wanted a break from bingeing on Frances Hardinge, so I said yes. Verdict so far: bordering on the tedious.

Career of Evil is the third in the Cormoran Strike series. I’m not going to rehash the story, so suffice it to say that this is a different mystery for Strike and Robin Ellacot—instead of being hired by clients, they investigate a problem of their own, which is, to find out who has sent a severed leg to Ellacot and why. The investigation takes them deep into Strike’s past, and so far (about half way into the book) we are none the wiser what the answers might be.

I love reading crime, but somehow have never warmed to this series. There is no doubt that J.K. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller, but the Strike series has always seemed to many notches below the quality of work that the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and the late Reginald Hill, to name a few, have produced. Moreover, irrespective of media, I have grown tired of casual sexism in the stories I want to read and see. This, I am sorry to say, makes the Cormoran Strike novels somewhat difficult to plough through.

Rowling-as-Galbraith has the same lucidity to her writing that made Harry Potter such a joy. But while in the Potter books the sheer brilliance of the story and world building allowed you to ignore all else, in the Strike series this is not so. I’m referring mostly to the paternalistic treatment of Robin Ellacot, and I find it hard to reconcile the sorted and articulate Rowling on social media with the benevolent sexism and misogyny of Galbraith. In particular, I did not appreciate the back story suddenly thrust upon Robin.

I may finish this book, mostly because I have nothing else to read right now. (I hear the books are going to be made into a TV series. Hoping it’ll be better than the books.)

~PD

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