J.K. Rowling is releasing a new book today under her alter-ego Robert Galbraith: Career of Evil, the third novel in her Cormoran Strike murder mystery series, which is also being adapted into a TV show. If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a new Rowling book is An Event.
But since this is the third book, and many people are late to the Cormoran Strike bandwagon — since the information that Robert Galbraith is really J.K Rowling didn’t come out right away — you might need a brief refresher. We’ve got you covered.
Cormoran Strike, the protagonist, is a one-legged war veteran who is now a private detective. Rowling lingers on his appearance with her signature flair, but he’s no Cedric Diggory.
Strike had the high, bulging forehead, broad nose, and thick brows of a young Beethoven who had taken to boxing…his thick curly hair, springy as carpet, had ensured that his many youthful nicknames had included “pubehead.” He looked older than his thirty-five years.
He also happens to be the illegitimate son of a Mick-Jagger type of rock legend, but don’t ask him about it.
“Is it true? Are you really Johnny Rokeby’s son?”
“Fucked if I know,” he said. “Why don’t you call him and ask?”
Strike really isn’t the most cheerful guy in the world. He’s also highly suspicious of celebrities and celebrity culture.
Strike had always marvelled at the strange sanctity conferred upon celebrities by the public, even while the newspapers denigrated, hunted or hounded them. No matter how many famous people were convicted of rape or murder, still the belief persisted, almost pagan in its intensity: not him. It couldn’t be him. He’s famous.
He’s pretty cavalier about everything relating to murder, so he’s not the guy to work with if you’re sensitive.
“It’s a death threat,” she said. “Oh, yeah,” said Strike. “Nothing to worry about. They come in about once a week.”
“No milk,” the note said. “Gone out for breakfast, then to Hamleys, want to beat crowds. PS Know who killed Quine.”
Robin, his assistant, is the secondary protagonist. She progresses from secretary to private-detective in training over the course of the first two novels. She’s eager to prove herself, but since Strike is a grump and her fiance Matthew is a douche who doesn’t like her new line of work, her relationship with both of them can be rocky. And although she’s very much her own person — not a Hermione repeat — she’s plucky and resourceful and takes shit from nobody.
Strike has an ex-fiance named Charlotte who flits in and out of the story, but she’s not the nicest person in the world. Rowling writes of Charlotte:
Beautiful, dangerous as a cornered vixen, clever, sometimes funny, and, in the words of Strike’s very oldest friend, ‘fucked to the core.’ …He had never known anyone with such an appetite for revenge.
And of course, Rowling sprinkles her signature razor-sharp wit all over the place, whether it’s throwing shade at Franzen-esque writers:
‘Fancourt can’t write women,’ said Nina dismissively. ‘He tries but he can’t do it. His women are all temper, tits and tampons,”
Or shining her light on goldiggers:
“Couples tended to be of roughly equivalent personal attractiveness, though of course factors such as money often seemed to secure a partner of significantly better looks than oneself.”
Aside from the basic details about Strike and Robin, each volume is relatively standalone, with The Cuckoo’s Calling focusing on the modeling industry, The Silkworm set in the publishing world, and Career of Evil diving more into Strike’s military background.
So whether you’re checking it out in time for the TV series Rowling has tweeted about…
…or whether you’re simply a Rowling fan who is fully onboard with her dive into the macabre, get ready to jump back into Cormoran Strike’s misadventures. The chilling first chapter is already free online.