D.G.’s Rating: 3.5 skulls = B
That ending, that ending. It wasn’t the reason why Career of Evil was just 3.5 stars for me but it didn’t help. Maybe because I figured out the killer by chapter 51, the other weaknesses of the book came flaring back to life. There was just too much meandering and Robin wedding drama for my taste.
(At this point, I figure I shouldn’t use my usual disclaimer when reviewing this series: this is not like Harry Potter, etc. etc. You should know by now.)
The book starts when Robin receives a package with a human leg (yikes!) No one is more surprised than Robin when Strike produces 4 suspects. Stubbornly, the police focuses on only one of the suspects and pretty much ignores the other three, which gives Strike the opportunity to investigate.
Career of Evil has many chapters from the killer’s POV. When this first happened, I was terrified for Strike and the people he loved. I thought this guy had a plan and he hated Strike with a passion so I feared for his sister, his nephews, his friends and Robin of course. But even though sending the leg was meticulously planned, the rest of the killer’s actions weren’t. He was described as an “opportunist” which seemed at odds with the leg sending. To me, it seems you are either a planner or an opportunist so the way he went about “making Strike pay” didn’t make much sense to me.
Strike’s investigation meandered somewhat – I imagine this is the way real investigations happen, where you don’t find anything for a while and have to just keep pushing. Although we learn a lot about the suspects and their heinous acts, nothing is discovered that tilts the investigation one way or the other. I figured out the identity of the killer because I went about it from another angle – if I had focused on what Strike was doing, I wouldn’t have had a clue what happened.
There’s a lot of focus on Robin in this book. We discovered the reason why she dropped out of University, why her job means so much to her and learn more about her relationship with Matthew. The book is set two months before her wedding and there’s a “will she marry Matthew” sub plot throughout the book. Matthew is not a fan of Strike and her working for him, so there are lot of fights between the two of them. One surprising development (for me at least) was the discovery that there are feelings between Strike and Robin. You may wonder…how didn’t you know? Because I never assume that a main character in a mystery series will automatically get a love interest. Maybe I should have realized there was something with the way they were so careful around each other, not getting too personal. Now, there’s nothing concrete going on but there was a definite a leap in their relationship both personal and professional (they had their first big fight and everything.) She’s not his secretary anymore but his partner.
Strike continues to be a compelling character, hairy belly and all, but if he doesn’t stop eating, smoking and drinking the way he did in this book, he won’t have to worry about the villains “doing him in” because a heart attack or a stroke will. I wonder what are the author’s plans about this because he can’t continue this way.
I didn’t like the end because I had hoped that plot point was going to be finished, but it’s clear that it will go on for at least a couple of more books. After thinking about it, I understood why the author went that way, but I still had a big WTF moment at the end. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
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