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Career of Evil is JK Rowling’s third outing as pseudonymous detective novelist Robert Galbraith, and it happily marks a return to form after what I felt was a bit of a sophomore slump. Curmudgeonly private investigator and Afghan war vet Cormoran Strike is back, along with his dutiful and dedicated assistant Robin. This time the unlikely pair find themselves embroiled in a murder case after a courier delivers a grisly package to their office: the severed leg of a young woman.

Strike knows of three men who may be sufficiently twisted—and disgruntled with him personally—to deliver to him part of a corpse. However, to find out which (if any) of them is the guilty party, he and Robin will have to delve into the lives of his enemies, men who for one reason or another viscerally hate him. This proves to be a risky proposition, especially since their target has an eye for victimizing Robin in an effort to get at Strike.

The murder mystery, while intricately constructed, isn’t the big-ticket draw here. What keeps me, a confirmed series-averse reader, coming back are the endearing and occasionally frustrating characters. Strike and Robin have undeniable chemistry, the question of whether that chemistry will eventually prove romantic or remain professional notwithstanding. This volume in the series offers more details of their respective pasts, with particular focus on why Robin wanted so badly to become an investigator, and why she’s stayed so long with whiny, insecure prettyboy Matthew. (Yes, I have many feelings when it comes to Robin’s romantic choices.) If you can’t resist will-they-won’t-they tension, this series won’t disappoint.

Well, “Mr. Galbraith,” I’m officially hooked. I’m already eagerly awaiting the fourth installment.

Other books in the series:

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Silkworm