And J.K. Rowling has done it to me yet again. It wasn’t enough to lure me on through year after year of eagerly anticipating the next Harry Potter novel. Oh no. That wasn’t enough. Now, she has to do the same to me, this time as Robert Galbraith, spinning the continuing adventures of her latest fictional heroes, Detective Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott.
This time, with Career of Evil, the primary case is far more personal than the previous two, which lends itself to much more personal revelations about and between our protagonist and deuteragonist. I’m not quite sure how I feel about a lot of the backstory we learn for Robin Ellacott, but it wasn’t really all that surprising. Rowling alluded to such revelations throughout the previous two Strike novels, particularly The Silkworm. I think I’m okay with it, simply by how beautifully Rowling handled it. Ultimately, it has made Robin Ellacott that much more multifaceted, that much stronger, that much more able to complement Cormoran Strike’s own complexities and strengths.
Strangely enough, I don’t even really care that these are detective/crime novels. I’m beginning to find that element of the tales secondary to what I believe has always been Rowling’s primary talent: building a compelling world into which her readers can enter and become blissfully, rapturously, exquisitely, holistically lost. Seriously, her books are so long for a few reasons, one of which is the care she gives to making the worlds she invites you to explore actually worth exploring. Also, her Cormoran Strike novels are unabashedly, unapologetically British to their very core, which I admit makes me love them that much more. Whereas I know that many British novels get rewrites for American audiences, if for nothing more than to keep American readers from having to ponder foreign locations or figure out foreign phrasing (because Murhka), I feel as though Rowling set about to root these novels so deeply into the soil of her homeland that no amount of rewriting could deracinate them.
Thank you for that, Ms. Rowling. I love the flavour and feel of Strike and Ellacott’s language and behaviour, their destinations, their locales, their foods, their drinks, and by all things holy under the British crown, I need to find some Doom Bar on this side of the pond soon, so that I can experience the beer that Rowling either must love herself or knows of someone who loves it deeply. Honestly, Cormoran must drink a bottle or pint of it every chapter!
Final Verdict: I love Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott immensely. I love their development, both singularly and together. I love their chemistry. I love their interactions. I love their existence. I even love their cases and the care in which Rowling leads them through investigations. I feel slightly guilty in revealing that I find the actual cases less compelling than the characters, but I also still find the cases at least interesting. And the reveals, while somewhat anticlimactic still, are well-considered and quite well-played. I would expect nothing less from Rowling. Or Galbraith. Or Strike and Ellacott. I can’t wait for the next novel. The question is, when will they release a set of novels so that I can buy them all together?