New Cormoran Strike Novel Details: Plot, Publishing Dates for ‘Career of Evil’

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611The plot and publishing dates of J. K. Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike novel, Career of Evil,  were announced today at Robert Galbraith.com. As predicted in talks I gave at the Chestnut Hill and MISTI-Con gatherings, Career will almost certainly be the book that triggers the tsunami of readers to the series — as Prisoner of Azkaban did for the Hogwarts Saga. Read on for details!

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“Little, Brown Book Group today announced that the next Cormoran Strike crime novel by Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil, is to be published on 20th October in the US, and 22nd October 2015 in the UK. Little, Brown also revealed the cover for the third book in the series, and further details about the story.

 

“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.”

 

The title, Career of Evil, is from a Patti Smith song that Smith wrote for Blue Oyster Cult. You can listen to the song here, if you like. Scroll down past the anti-Semitism bit… Who knew Smith hated Jews? I knew Rowling was a big fan of The Smiths (even dressing up like them and wearing the heavy eye liner make-up) – but Patti Smith?

Anyway, because the Strike mysteries are written in parallel with their numeric counterpart in the Hogwarts novels — I kid you not — we can expect that Career of Evil will be about the mysterious underworld informant that has played significant parts in both Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. His role in the second book was to get Cormoran a job interview with a mobster as an enforcer. Cormoran accepts 500 Pounds from the Godfather to break a client’s son’s arm, i.e. to send a message, which, of course, Cormoran does not do. Unfortunately, he also spends the 500 pounds and doesn’t get around to repaying it.

Whoops.

I think we can be pretty sure that the bad guy takes this out on both Cormoran and his friend for having deceived him. The Doom Bar Detective has had his picture in the papers often enough that the tech mafioso realizes he was set up as well as short changed. Hence the severed leg — a pointer to Strike’s infirmity, to the horse’s head of The Godfather, and to violence against women, a Rowling thematic touchstone.

The mystery figure is an echo of Sirius Black in Prisoner of Azkaban and we should expect, as was the case of Harry’s third year adventures, a good deal of narrative release, back-story hinted at in the first two books that will be the substance of the drama in the next four mysteries. Which is to say, more on Rokeby, Lida Strike, Cormoran’s Army career and the accident that cost him a leg, and, hurrah, why Robin left University and is beholden to her tosser of a fiancee.

It promises to be great — and, yes, we’ll be discussing it here at Hogwarts Professor in great detail in the months between now and the October release. Can you say ‘Midnight Madness’? The mania returns…

Joanne Rowling’s Testimony About Intrusive Press (2011)

This is important background information for the treatment of reporters in both the Hogwarts Saga and the Cormoran Strike novels. Ms Rowling’s anger and sense of violation is right out there — and seeing this video of her testimony has made me take much more seriously the possibility that her story take-down of a cynical press corps will play a much larger role in her mysteries than Rita Strike and The Daily Prophet did in Harry’s adventures.

Hat tip to MuggleNet’s Keith Hawk for this find.

Guest Post: The Bloomsbury Group and ‘The Silkworm’

ChrisC is a regular guest writer at HogwartsProfessor. He responded with what follows to my request that he write up thoughts he shared in private correspondence about J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike detective novels for your comment and correction. Enjoy!

Rowling, the Bloomsbury Group, and the (Possible) Literary Allegory of Silkworm

Throughout The Silkworm, author J.K Rowling offers what is more or less a running commentary on the current state of the publishing industry, and the authors who make up the literary world.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Throughout his investigation, Cormoran Strike runs afoul of publishers consumed by greed (with an implied over-fixation on any and everything digital that that hurts sales more than it benefits), writer’s quarreling among themselves for various slights both real, imagined, major, and minor.  Throughout all this it soon becomes (or at least should be) evident that the great majority of Silk is taken up with a scathing critique or Allegorical Satire of the Literary Establishment.

It’s the nature of that Satire that I’m interested in.  It’s been suggested here already that the Strike books are Ms. Rowling’s smuggled literary Key to the Potter Books.  Whether or not that prediction will hold true is a matter of time and whatever is written in the final books.  In the meantime, there were two clues that may hint at the possibly bigger literary fish has in mind with her Satire. [Read more…]

The Silkworm 2: Shades of and Keys to The Hogwarts Saga?

Spoiler alert:  Don’t read this if you haven’t read The Silkworm and if you want to read it without having had key plot points revealed to you beforehand.

I’m guessing that it’s safe to assume that most readers of the Cormoran Strike mysteries are readers of the Harry Potter novels as well and that they chose to read these books because of their enjoyment of Ms Rowling’s previous work, to include Casual Vacancy. Or maybe despite Vacancy. Whatever.

Reading The Silkworm, consequently, it’s only natural that we serious readers of the Hogwarts Saga be sensitive to what we hear or experience in this detective novel that seem to be echoes from the Boy Who Lived’s magical adventures.  I want to make three observations for your comment and correction here, thoughts that will not include a list of fun correspondences (did you flinch when you read that you can “hear the rumbling of the traffic on Charing Cross Road’ from Strike’s flat? Me, too), but all of which, I think, put the Cormoran Strike novels in a new light.

[Read more…]

Silkworm 1: Kathryn Kent’s Plot/Narrative Distinction

Spoiler alert:  Don’t read this if you haven’t read The Silkworm and want to read it without having key points revealed to you before hand.

In chapter 10 of The Silkworm, Robin and Cormoran are in his office reading the weBlog of the red-headed writer-wanna-be named Kathryn Kent. Ms Kent is supposedly the mistress of Owen Quine, the famous author whose wife has hired private detective Strike to find. She refers to Quine as ‘TFW,’ The Famous Writer:

Great talk with TFW about Plot and Narrative tonight which are of course not the same thing. For those wondering:- Plot is what happens, Narrative is how much you show your readers and how you show it to them.

An example from my second novel “Melina’s Sacrifice.”

As they made their way towards the Forest of Harderell Lendor raised his handsome profile to see how near they were to it. His well-maintained body, honed by horseback riding and archery skills — [The Silkworm, ch 10, p 66]

There is more in this review of Kent’s weblog to which we will have to return, especially in discussing the choices of quotations for the chapter headings, but for starters I want to ask your thought on this passage with regard to two points.

First, this pedantic aside in a weblog is a piercing representation of the affected wisdom available online in personal weBlogs (and, yes, I recognize the face in the reflection, alas). The insecurity, the excitement with ideas, the eagerness to speak with authority — all there brilliantly encapsulated in three short paragraphs.

Showing-not-telling genius aside, at least for a moment, I think it likely that Ms Rowling here is also making a point that she wants to make with her readers and critics, many of whom praise her for the intricacy and cleverness of her plots. That’s not an empty bit of praise, of course, but it is not Rowling’s gift as an author. That would be her deft characterization — revelation of essence in short, quick descriptive strokes or conversation — and her ability to work the slow reveal in narrative exposition. The latter quality is exactly what Ms Kent spoke with her lover-mentor about and was sharing with her reader(s). Nice touch.

Next, I suspect that the red-headed Kathryn Kent is a snap shot of sorts of the nigh on desperate  J. Kathryn Rowling, then a red head, when she was writing Harry Potter (and other things?) before she was discovered. I suspect it might be a portrait of how she imagines what might have become of Jo Rowling if the remarkable series of chance events did not raise her out of obscurity (for conversation with that young writer, see the interviews posted here last week).

Or is that too far a stretch? I’ll be returning to this idea of embedded pictures from Ms Rowling’s autobiography in discussion of the title, which seems to be an argument that all fiction writing is author-distillation and, after a fashion, execution. For now, though, what do you make of this weBlog passage?