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…

Comments

  1. Thanks for the good news!!

  2. Louise M. Freeman says:

    Ah, but will the leg’s owner turn up at the end of the book, a la Peter Pettigrew? Perhaps as an apotemnophilia patient? (read here if you want to know what that is: http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2009/03/27/voluntary-amputation-extra-phantom-limbs/)
    Just wish it was a bit earlier so we could discuss at Chestnut Hill.

  3. Liz Chilcott says:

    I am midway through the first Cormoran Strike mystery and while not as much fun as the HP novels, I am getting into the spirit of the characters. I wish I had the time in the summer to curl up in a comfortable chair, turn off the cell phone and just read.

  4. If this book should result in “Midnight Madness”, I wonder what the difference will be.

    While Cormoran Strike may echo the Potter books in many way, that’s still leaves the question of genre open. By and large, from my own experience, fans of noir and mystery fiction are in fact different not just from fans of Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but especially from Potter fans in particular.

    I’m not saying we couldn’t be seeing a few people dressed up as wizards, yet on the whole I think they’ll be more of a sideline item with this series. That just leaves me wondering how the Strike fanbase may develop. We may conceivably see people not just past the big 3-0, but also 4-0. If Rowling still has the cultural clout leftover from her HP days, will we see tweed jackets with leather stitching on the shoulders come back into fashion?

    In a more serious vein, would the Baker Street Irregulars start to take her seriously as an author?

  5. “Cormoran’s Army”? Yes, please!

  6. Laurel Vine says:

    “Ditto”. Liz C. Just starting the adventure.
    Hoping to see at least one Wizard or Dementor 🙂
    Thanks for the insight, John.

  7. Thanks so much for the heads up! I will definitely be reading this new book, as I’ve read the first two in the series, and I do look forward to it. For me, what prevents this series from capturing my heart and imagination as the HP series did is that it’s simply too real-world, dark and gritty. The HP world is a place I long for and go to over and over to escape the cares of daily life. The world of Cormoron Strike is a place that is dark and that I somewhat wish to escape FROM. This may just be my own squeamishness, though, and may not at all affect the series’ reception for a wider audience.

  8. You have my attention. Looks like I need to pick up the Silkworm…

  9. Are there going to be seven books?

  10. Chris Gavaler says:

    Patti Smith wrote a song for BOC? And Rowling uses it for her detective novel?? What alternate reality is this!

  11. Gavaler,

    It gets even weirder.

    “Career of Evil” comes off a BOC album called “Secret Treaties”, and features a song called “Astronomy”. Written not by Smith but longtime BOC lyricist Sandy Pearlman, the song seems to feature references to Aclhemy and perhaps an allusion to John Dee in reference to a mirror, if I’m remembering correctly.

    Also, it’s possible that there is a reference to the planet “Sirius”. As far as the song itself is concerned, the biggest thought I have about it is that if any band was ever to make a Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner” into a kind of concept album, it wouldn’t surprise me if the song structure were similar to BOC’s “Astronomy”, as for some reason it just put me in mind of the rhyme scheme of Coleridge’s poem sped up slightly. As another famous lyricist wrote, “It’s alright…it’s life and life only!”

  12. There’s one element about this book that I think does stand out in comparison to the earlier Potter series. That is the fact that Mrs. Rowling seems to be inverting certain positive ideas or tropes from the earlier series and recasting them into their negative opposite.

    For instance, “Chamber of Secrets” involves a book that tells lies within its pages. In “The Silkworm”, this element is given a twist in the form of an unpublished manuscript that (spoilers) is more or less a total “tell-all” that just happens to have lies tacked onto it while the tome itself, despite massive amounts of bile manages to somehow remain neutral in some sense, at least. Hence we see the trope in Potter where a book itself is outright malevolent, whereas Bombix Mori is just more ambivalent than anything else.

    To give another example, “Prisoner of Azkaban” is about an innocent man framed for a crime he didn’t commit (which in itself is a set up for a Noir story) whereas the man accused in “Career” seems to be a long time Mafioso. Again, in Potter this character is innocent and good, whereas in Strike the as yet unnamed informant, while innocent of one crime is obviously guilty of a lot of others, and is probably not a good person at all.

    In and of itself, this inverting seems to mean little, although it is worth pointing for the scope it helps give Rowling’s strategy for this series. A good name for it might be called “The Strategy of Inverted Expectations”. On the one hand, that means she might (?) be inverting ideas from her previous books so as to clue in fans that this series, while echoing the Potter books, is nonetheless going to have a very different tone and feel to it from that of Hogwarts.

    Another reason for it may have to do with the workings of the Mystery genre itself. It is sometimes called the Noir genre, and the reason for that is because its subject matter inherently seems to focus in on what Rod Serling once called “Morality’s Shady Side of the Street”. Moral absolutes can exist in a universe of Noir, however that will still mean the genre’s main goal will be the exploration of the moral ambiguity of its characters. In this sense Noir may be said to share something with the Gothic genre in that the external actions and situations of the characters are often reflections of their inner states. Such seems to be the nature of the stories Rowling is currently turning out.

    It seems to be for these reasons that she would choose to invert certain tropes she’s spent the first half of her artistic career building. She does it in order to move on, though it’s not deconstruction so much as reconstruction in obedience to the genre she’s working in.

    Also, if you take the Potter and Strike series and pair them together, this may sound funny but it does seem to give an idea of the Coleridgian concept of Polarity, in which opposites (positive/negative, light/dark) somehow balance each other out.

    …I’ll go take my meds now.

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