The third Cormoran Strike novel is satisfying and engaging

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a real supporter of J.K. Rowling’s foray into the world of crime writing through the Robert Galbraith series of books. After all, publishing of The Casual Vacancy wasn’t a huge success under her own name purely because people couldn’t separate the author from her most famous character, Harry Potter.

Book 3 in the series, Career of Evil was one that got out of the starting gate very quickly. Within a few pages, we’ve had our first introduction to the murderer and his plans and have had him deliver an amputated leg to Robin, the partner and Secretary of our hero Cormoran Strike.

From there we are led into a story where someone is trying to destroy Cormoran Strike by targeting his reputation and plotting to abduct and hurt his partner Robin. Strike and Robin are unaware of his precise plans but simply know he is attacking young women, stealing body parts from his victims and is following Robin. There are several suspects from Strike’s past, some from cases he investigated from his Special Branch of the army career and one who is connected to his mother’s suspicious death.

It was at this point I felt the story could have used a little clarity. Strike and Robin spend much of the book tracking down these 3 individuals, recounting their back stories with Strike and following up on where they were when certain crimes took place. Unfortunately, their backstories were at times quite similar and sometimes I had to stop and remind myself of which one linked to which tale we’d had recounted. Just as we seemed to be gaining clarity on one we would be off on another’s trail and you had to be alert to keep track of each story and possible Villain we were tailing now.

In this book we spend a lot more time with Robin, learning more about her life before she met Strike, her desires to become a detective and her relationship with her fiance Matthew. Rowling takes time to really round out the character giving us a real modern day Watson to Strikes at sometimes bumbling Holmes.

It is a book that goes through some high points, I found the interviews conducted to establish back stories and information about their suspects to be the high points of the book. The dialogue in these chapters is inspired, it was at these points I truly wanted to keep reading and perhaps contributes to my disappointment when we’d leave that behind and go chasing down another lead, leaving the suspense and real character based detective work behind. There are also some great characters in this story who added much to the story and who I’d love to see in future books, Shanker is a stand out for me. This shady thug from Strike’s early life comes bursting to life in this book and leaves you rooting for him, he is clearly a thug with a heart of gold and was a high point for me.

Low points were that the book kept building towards a storyline that didn’t actually materialise. Instead, we got a few pages of it potentially happening then nothing. All that tension as a reader was left a little unfulfilled. Also, our dynamic duo ended this case pretty fractured and with their own agendas. They didn’t catch their guy together but instead kind of caught him separately and didn’t share that success, which was a shame.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than book 2, The Silkworm. This was based on the chapters that were dedicated to Strike and Robin really outlining and defining who their potential suspects were and the lives they had already affected. For me, this was a real return to the brilliance of The Cuckoos Calling.

Strike remains one of my favourite series characters and I always look forward to reading the next instalment and this time is no different. I’ll be excited to see his next adventure and how his relationship with Robin continues to grow, very much in the way I wait patiently to see what modern-day Holmes and Watson will do next.

A promising start to the Three Dark Crowns series and a new author for me to try


Three Dark Crowns
 (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the recent release of the second book in this series I decided that I really needed to get myself organised and delve into Three Dark Crowns before I started hearing too many spoilers about the series online. I haven’t read any books by Kendare Blake before but reviews about Three Dark Crowns seem to be generally good and the plot sounded really intriguing so I was happy to give it a go.

This is a dark, fairytale in atmosphere story about 3 sisters, triplets, who are born Queens then separated and fostered to different homes based on their special talent. When they turn 16 they will each have the chance to fight for the throne, whoever wins will reign until their own triplets are born. The two losers will be killed at the hand of the victor.

The first chapters of the book are quite lengthy as we are introduced to each of the triplets in turn. Firstly we meet Queen Katherine, a poisoner, who is able to withstand any venom and can create deadly potions of her own. We meet the people raising her after 3 generations of poisoner Queens they have grown powerful and will do anything to put a 4th poisoner Queen on the throne. Katherine is not as strong as she looks though and is struggling to survive the demands placed upon her.

We then meet naturalist Queen Arisone, wild and carefree she has grown up surrounded by friends who have protected her and now she turns 16 she needs to face up to the fact that her gifts have not arrived as yet, she should be able to make flowers grow and fields bloom and animals do her bidding but she cannot and soon everyone will learn the truth.

Finally, we meet Queen Mirabella, the Elementalist who can command the elements, the wind, fire, water and the earth. Mirabella is strong and word has spread of her strength. The priestesses of the temples have led her tuition and they will stop at nothing to oust the poisoners from the throne and see the true Queen ascend to her rightful place, even if they need to rig the outcome.

This book was wonderful, it is full of really great characters in the lives of each of the Queens who we come to love. Particularly wonderful is the world of Arisone and her best friend Jules, the strongest naturalist in the community who will do anything to protect her friend and help her to become the new Queen. The characters in the story are really well crafted and it is so easy to become invested in them all and they are all quite distinct so although there are lots of them across each of the three queens courts you don’t get confused.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the book, the question of whether the sisters will come to fulfil the prophecy and kill each other or who is the rightful queen. The book asks you to question which one is your favourite but as the book goes on you find each girl has her own attributes that would make her a good Queen but if I had to say which one I was rooting for secretly I’d have to say Arisone but then the cliff-hanger at the end of this book was wonderful and left me quite shocked and desperate to see how this will progress as we move into book 2. It helped to make sense of some of the story in Three Dark Crowns but sets up wonderfully for us to continue the story.

I loved my first experience of Kendare Blake’s writing, I really enjoyed the style in which the book was written. The narrative was exicting and the plot moved along nicely with plenty of action without skimping on the relationships within. I would highly recommend this book and I know I won’t be able to hold off long before picking up the sequel, One Dark Throne.