Coming out on the 20th, Tuesday of next week, is a lovely little book called Career of Evil, the third what you can probably officially call a series, or maybe a trilogy of books called the Cormoran Strike books, written by Robert Galbraith. If you are thinking that name sounds familiar, you might be remembering the sensation created when it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was revealed to be a pen name for none other than J.K. Rowling. Her one book she’d written at the time as Robert Galbraith, Cuckoo’s Calling, got massively popular and they released additional books with this positive feed back, first Silkworm and now Career of Evil.
With this next book coming out this week, you may start to wonder, should I read this series? I know I will continue to read it come Tuesday, and I hope I can get a few more people to enjoy the series too, by telling people what to expect.
First, it’s not Harry Potter. You’d think such a statement would be fairly obvious, with these books clearly stating they follow a war vet Private Eye living in London and solving seriously violent crimes, about the furthest thing from a bunch of children/teenagers going to wizarding school, but this will always bear repeating. When a writer creates such an insanely popular work, their work afterword will be compared and linked to that famous work, for better or for worse. Part of the reason I think her first non-Harry Potter book, Casual Vacancy was not received better, was that people couldn’t help but grumble “This is not Harry Potter. There are absolutely no hippogriffs. Harumph.” under their breath. Basically, all her work after Harry Potter risks becoming a of literary step-dad, of sorts, resented for appearing to try and fill in a role we readers don’t want it too. Harry Potter’s my real dad!
By that train of logic, the Cormoran Strike novels may have been greeted with such fanfare after J.K. Rowling was revealed as the author because it was really trying not to act like it was our Harry Potter step dad. When everyone found out, it was like coming downstairs one morning and finding a really bad ass detective with an artificial leg was having coffee in our kitchen. Shocking, and he definitely wasn’t Harry Potter but hey, he never said he was. He’s pretty cool too.
Read the Cormoran Strike novels if you like a good detective story with compelling characters and great suspense. J.K. Rowling is extremely talented at writing well rounded characters and having complex dynamics between them. The relationship between Cormoran, the detective and his assistant Robin is very compelling, especially because they don’t speed full throttle towards a cliched steamy romance. They act like real people. In this next book, they’ll act like real people that get sent a severed leg in the mail by an anonymous enemy. Truly, its the sort of relationship spice you can only get from a detective story.
That said, the only caveat I would have for potential readers is that this is the type of series where people get sent severed legs in the mail, and other kind of graphic crimes and violent acts are committed. Don’t read these books if that’s not your bag. We’re talking True Detective level crimes here but with much less heinous sex acts, mostly just normal sex that makes people get all angry and motivated for murder, and/or targeted for murders, or at least tailed by Cormoran Strike on behalf of jealous spouses.
Detective stories are a dime a dozen. Really good detective stories are quite a bit rarer, so I for one am glad that the work of “Robert Galbraith” was allowed to flourish as much as it has without being utterly smothered by the Harry Potter brand related expectations. As much as it has the J.K. Rowling fame to thank for the popularity books, the series wouldn’t be so nearly well received if it didn’t have something special to give readers on its own. In this case, you get compelling characters ratcheting up edgy suspense and genuinely exciting mysteries.