"Career of Evil" is the third Cormoran Strike novel written by Robert Galbraith, an alias of JK Rowling. It was released in September of 2015, and like the previous books, follows the attempts of private investigator Cormoran Strike and assistant Robin Ellacot to catch a devious criminal. Unlike in the two previous books, where they are merely investigating a crime, in this book the criminal is specifically targeting them, which brings an additional air of suspense to the book.
Not wanting to discuss the plot of the book for fear of spoilers, I will instead talk a little about the mood and feeling of the book.
Detective novels are not necessarily crime novels. Indeed, especially with the tradition of the English detective novel, there is always a bit of the comedy of manners, even in what should be a grim situation. Murders occur through poison and trickery at country manors while seemingly blithe amateur sleuths move amongst the gentry, finally discovering via a dropped kercheif that the murder was actually Lord Smythington's brother, who had secretly come back from India and was impersonating him. It is meant as a type of escapist literature, and the reality of crime and abuse are rarely addressed.
In Rowling's previous novels, both under own name and as Galbraith, that was the case, with the mysteries often being outsized and improbable. This book, more than any of her earlier books, moves away from being a detective story to being a realistic look at crime and its aftermath. In what might have pushed the boundaries of good taste for another author, the book focuses on several sex criminals, and the trail of devastation, abuse and ruined lives that follow them. While the previous two novels followed the lives of celebrities, this book focuses on the poor and dispossessed, taking place in a series of taverns, massage parlors and grimy apartments over the whole of Britain. Which isn't to say that the book doesn't have its share of what we've come to expect in the genre: chases, fights, and a single mysterious clue that explains the entire thing.
As with the previous works, this book both encapsules its genre and transforms it. Each one of these books has subtly expanded on what a mystery novel can be, and it makes me eager to see where the series is going.