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Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

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Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Series: Cormoran Strike, #3
Published by Hachette Audio on October 20, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 18 hrs 3 mins
Format: Audiobook
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When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them....
Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

Career of Evil is good, let me say that first off. The mystery, even with its limited suspect pool is engrossing and the episodes from the killer’s point of view are disturbing. The characters are well-drawn and I am invested in their personal stories, in addition to the crime-solving aspect, thanks to having read the previous two in the series. And I do think this is a series where it helps to read them in order.

But I didn’t particularly enjoy Career of Evil. If it wasn’t a series I like, with people, fictional though they might be, who I care about it, I probably wouldn’t have read it, or at least not finished it.

First, I just don’t like serial killer books. I read a lot of mysteries, but I avoid that particular trope. I think it has something to do with motive. Revenge, anger, greed, jealousy, need to protect oneself or one’s secrets, are all understandable, their normal feelings taken to extreme. Serial killer, at least in most fiction, derive a sexual satisfaction from the killing/trophies that is just too twisted for me. Add in pieces from the killer’s point of view and you can usually count me out.

Most of the book centers around violence against women, both in the present day (2011) and in Robin’s past. I’m sorry, I know that talking about rape is important for many reasons, but I don’t like reading about it, and I don’t like when it’s used to explain someone’s actions. This installment features Robin prominently, which I would have thought would be a good thing, but she just annoyed me eventually. Yes, her past was horrible, no I don’t expect her to get over it, but this is a mystery- I didn’t need all the drama.

But, I kept listening. It’s kind of like that wreck you crane your neck to see even though you don’t really want to. The narrator did a good job. He told the story well, conveyed the dark humor that underlies a lot of Strike’s conversations and thoughts. He was just British enough for me and he distinguished all the characters well, without any of the women sounding too manly, something I’ve been running into lately.

About Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series and The Casual Vacancy.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

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The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Series: Cormoran Strike #2
Published by Hachette Audio on June 19, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 17 hrs 22 mins
Format: Audiobook
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When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

Now this was a good one. I already knew I liked Cormoran Strike, the detective, from his first outing, The Cuckoo’s Calling. He’s the same basic guy here. The publicity from that case has worn off a little, but business is going well, even if he’s working mostly divorce cases or for rich guys he doesn’t really respect. It’s money. And we do get to see a bit of him working on the other cases, not enough to distract from the plot, but enough to remind us that he doesn’t just have one case to focus on. Robin, his assistant, is starting to come into her own, we’re learning a bit more about her, what she wants and what she’s capable of.

Then a plain, poor-looking woman, asks him to find here missing husband, author Owen Quine. He’s gone missing after his latest, as yet unpublished, novel was leaked, a book that is going to make a lot of people bad. It’s a smear job of just about everyone who has ever crossed Quine’s path – wife, girlfriend, folks in the publishing business, other writers. It’s no surpise that Quine ends up dead, but the list of potential suspects is  l o n g.

Glenister again does the narration. He is just perfect for Cormoran, a bit gruff, with just the hint of his dark sense of humor. He does a good job distinguishing the characters too, not an easy task given the long list. He manages to keep even the most off-kilter characters under control, not letting the voices lead me into picturing them as simple stereotypes. Does that make sense?

I enjoyed this inside look at a fictional London publishing world, all the scheming and back-biting and jealousies. None of the secondary characters are really likeable and some are downright nasty, but that’s what makes them fun to read about. It is a booklover’s mystery, with it’s peak into the world behind the books. And I love the tour of London. Galbraith, not surprisingly, is good at descriptions, at showing us the setting, letting us see, hear, and smell it.

The “scene of the crime” was pretty gross. But the way Galbraith tied everything up at the end was really good. Not only were the clues that we had seen tied in, but also the bits and pieces that I didn’t realize were clues fit together impressively. And of course Cormoran figures it all out and then has to basically serve the solution up to the cops on a silver platter.

Can I have another Strike mystery soon please?

About Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series and The Casual Vacancy.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Hachette Audio on May 16, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 15 hrs 54 mins
Format: Audiobook
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After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

I wasn’t going to read The Cuckoo’s Calling, something about Rowling writing it under a secret pseudonym that just happens to leak out when the book doesn’t sell well rubbed me wrong. But the library had the audio available when I needed a book to quickly add to my player, so I decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised.

In a lot of ways it’s the standard detective story. Our detective, Cormoran Strike, is a big, tough guy with a gruff exterior. He’s definitely down on his luck, but his backstory is interesting. He’s a war hero and the son of a rock star father who he doesn’t have any contact with. I got a little tired of hearing about how uncomfortable his prosthesis was though. But at heart he’s a good guy who wants to help those who need him. His assistant Robin is competent and caring, but a little disappointing somehow. Maybe she just doesn’t get much of the lime-light. I’m hoping she dumps her fiancé in the next installment.

The mystery itself was good – several suspects, clues that the cops have overlooked, a couple good witnesses whose stories the cops discredited. I liked some of the secondary characters, they’re certainly an odd lot. One reviewer, Maureen Corrigan for NPR, used a term I was unfamiliar with when describing it – “mayhem parva”. Apparently, it’s a school of British detective fiction where “the story takes place in a circumscribed setting, it’s full of oddball suspects, and the killer is affably lurking in plain sight throughout much of the action.” Sounds like the type of mysteries I often enjoy, actually.

The characters were good, maybe not fully developed, but interesting. it is one of those mysteries though where you don’t know everything the detective’s thinking along the way and then at the end, he goes through paragraphs of you did this, then you did that, to prove how smart he is and explain how he solved the case. It didn’t bother me here, a lot of mysteries have that tendency, but sometimes it seems a little like taking the easy way out.

The narrator did a good job, especially as Cormoran. He made the story engrossing and I think parts of it would have been slow in print but weren’t as he told them. I’m actually already listening to the next, which is always a good sign.

About Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series and The Casual Vacancy.

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