By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Robert Galbraith
Narration by: Robert Glenister
As follow-up to “The Cuckoo’s Calling” and “The Silkworm”, “Career of Evil “is a movie script more than bookish mystery thriller. Three villains have a lurking and evil presence that imprints itself on one’s mind. The villains are violent haters, misogynist, and/or child molesters. The life of private detective, Cormoran Strike, is a movie caricature of a hulking good guy with rough good looks, a tough outer shell, and inner charm. Strike scares bad guys and attracts beautiful women.
Pseudonymous Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) offers background on Cormoran Strike’s persona and introduces a new enigmatic character who grew up with Strike but is a polar opposite in morality and looks. A common characteristic for Strike and this new character is a penchant for violence.
A moderately interesting sidelight of “Career of Evil” is the dynamic of gender discrimination. Presumptions by both men and women of the opposite sex are exposed in the relationship between two heroes of the story, Strike and Robin Ellacott. On the one hand, Strike thinks Robin cannot take care of herself. On the other hand, Robin thinks Strike can only see her as a secretary. Robin seeks recognition and identity as an investigator. Strike sees Robin as an investigator but often treats her like a secretary.
One’s biggest criticism of Rowling’s “Career of Evil” is the oft scripted ineptitude of the police. The police are characterized as bumbling, inept and jealous investigators who cannot protect or serve the public because they are either ignorant or bound by rule of law; i.e. suggesting cops are too self-absorbed to listen or too bound by the bureaucracy of search warrants and arrest requirements to catch criminals. Reality is more complex. The police see the worst in society and are always expected to rise above it; always make the right decision, and always keep their cool. It is an expectation that cannot always be met by any human being.
“Career of Evil” is entertaining but it fails to reveal more of the greatest part of its author’s proven skill and ability; i.e. her remarkable imagination. The story is common. Character descriptions are banal. The heroes are caricatures of a culture that believes women are from Venus and men are from Mars. If one did not know “Career of Evil” is written by a woman, he/she would think it is written by a man. It seems women are as ignorant of men as men are of women.
“Career of Evil” could be a successful movie; it may be a best seller, but respectfully, it is hackneyed literature.