Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, Little Brown Book Group, 2015)
“Hiding in plain sight. Hiding in plain sight”.
An amputated leg is delivered by motorcycle courier to private detective Cormoran Strike’s assistant, Robin. It’s no mistake, but a sadistic message to one legged war vet Strike that someone is out to destroy him, piece by piece. Robin and Strike are consequently catapulted into a race to derail a deranged serial killer with a penchant for keeping body parts as souvenirs before he claims another victim.
The reader capers around with the duo as they delve into the salubrious worlds of Strike’s (numerous) enemies in an endeavour to put a stop to the gruesome and disturbing killing and mutilation. A strong, satisfying and clever plot emerges from the maelstrom of characters, suspects, wannabes and decoys thrown up along the way.
Though several of the themes are uncomfortable and dark (paedophilia, sexual abuse, Body Integrity Identity Disorder – the mental disorder that makes sufferers want to amputate their healthy limbs – to name a few), it is the book’s characters which dominate and drive the story and as a consequence, Career of Evil manages simultaneously to be repugnant and thrilling, yet also engaging and droll. It would be difficult not to give in to the irresistible combination of a gripping murder mystery and the latent romance between the two principal characters. It’s sometimes a bit silly but mostly a very entertaining and diverting read – I felt resentful whenever I was forced to put it down.