CAREER OF EVIL is the third novel in J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike crime fiction novels which are published under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith. It is also the third instalment of BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of the novels, once again starring Tom Burke as cynical ex-army private detective Strike.

Operating out of a small office in London’s Denmark Street, his background as an SIB investigator comes in more than handy in the hunt for a killer who tries to frame him for a grisly murder… hoping to destroy Strike’s career in the process. Wounded both physically and psychologically during his army days, Strike nonetheless possesses a unique insight which helps him to remain afloat even in the most dangerous of situations. Holliday Grainger returns as Robin Ellacott, Strike’s previous temp secretary but now his business partner. Like Strike, she comes under threat in this story while her private life too turns out to be a rollercoaster ride - albeit not exactly an enjoyable one!

The first episode doesn’t faff around and before you know it we’re off to a gory start when a package is delivered to Strike’s office by a courier whose face remains hidden thanks to his helmet. Strangely enough the package is actually addressed to Strike’s assistant Robin while the self-styled private eye is busy on the phone. His conversation comes to an abrupt halt when he sees Robin stumbling backwards in shock: the delivered package contains a human leg! Things are about to get an awful lot worse when it transpires – after a joint search effort involving DI Eric Wardle (RIPPER STREET’S Killian Scott) and his colleague DS Ekwensi (Ann Akin) – that the severed leg presumably belongs to Kelsey Platt (Fern Deacon), a teenager reported missing days earlier and now found dead with her hands and legs chopped off. All we know about Kelsey is that prior to her violent death, she had entered a disused building in Whitechapel where she was attacked and suffocated though we never get to see the attacker… only the crime. Unfortunately for Strike, he too had entered said building about a quarter of an hour before Kelsey entered it and was caught on CCTV. Furthermore, the police find a photo which shows Strike in a café apparently meeting Kelsey. He quickly becomes a murder suspect despite his protests that the photo has got to be a cut and paste job because he never met Kelsey. Strike has a hard time to convince Wardle and Ekwensi of his innocence but eventually succeeds though not before the scandal has hit the newspaper headlines and reporters besiege Strike’s office.

Meanwhile, his loyal and witty assistant Robin has her own problems when she learns that her fiancé Matt (Kerr Logan) has cheated on her with a close friend while at the same time, Matt seems jealous of the fact that Robin and Strike get on extremely well as a team and, as Robin explains to Matt, that’s all there is to it. Well, you can’t blame the girl for packing her stuff and temporarily moving out of the flat but she doesn’t have much time to reflect on whether to call off her looming wedding or not because solving the Kelsey Platt murder case proves to be a particularly nasty undertaking which not only brings Robin and Strike all across London and beyond but in mortal danger – not to mention an entire array of suspects… take your pick: Scottish Donald Laing, an ex-soldier who was brought down by Strike on charges against domestic violence and other nasty habit. Having served several years in a Glasgow slammer thanks to Strike, Laing has every reason to be pissed at our detective! Then there’s paedophile Niall Brockbank who has ‘nasty’ written all over him but not quite as nasty as Jeff Whittaker – a vile and ageing heavy metal band rock star who the second husband of Strike’s deceased mother Leda and to top it all, Strike has always believed that Whittaker was somehow responsible for Leda’s death though he could never prove it. Out of all three suspects Whittaker appears to be the most obvious because with the severed leg came a note including lyrics from the song ‘Mistress of the Salmon Salt’ by Blue Oyster Cult, hint hint hint! But obvious conclusions can be deceptive and with the additional help of his old army chum Shanker (Ben Crompton) Strike and Robin try to uncover the ugly truth one and for all.

The performances are, quite frankly, terrific though Burke and Grainger excel as far as the dynamic duos on-screen presence is concerned. The location shots too are a treat for all who hold London dear to their heart though what’s really impressive is the digital wonder that is Strike’s amputated leg – Tom Burke even massages the remaining stump before he glides into the prosthetic leg again, no idea how the special effects wizards achieved such convincing results.
CAREER OF EVIL makes for intelligent viewing and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the original source material stems from one of the most gifted and prolific authors is recent years.