selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
Two filmed novels in, the tv version of JKR's written-as-Robert-Galbraith mystery novels called Strike comes across as very enjoyable. Holiday Grainger is a delight as Robin, Tom Burke still isn't how I imagined Cormoran Strike, but he's entertaining to watch, and they have good chemistry. Inevitably, characters and subplots were for the axe in both Cuckoo's Call and The Silkworm, but so far they've kept the important emotional beats. In the case of The Silkworm, I'm especially glad my favourite sentence of the entire novel gets to be used in dialogue, though a different character gets to say it on tv: Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."

Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.

In other news, [community profile] missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
Okay, I had (still have) my doubts about Athos as Cormoran Strike, but this casting is great news! I can definitely see Holiday Grainger as Robin, and since I've loved her as Lucrezia Borgia, I've missed having her on my tv screen in something I like.
selenak: (Branagh by Dear_Prudence)
The internet tells me that J.K. Rowling's novels written as Robert Galbraith are getting filmed, which I knew already.... and that they've cast Tom "Athos" Burke as Cormoran Strike, which I hadn't known.

Um. Err. Can't see it? I mean, yes, he can brood, but he's too thin and too good looking by far, and can he do matter of actly no nonsense? From the descriptions, I was imagining a slightly younger Phil Glenister. He'd have been perfect both physically and in terms of acting force and charisma. No news about who's going to play Robin that I've heard.

Secret hope for character who hasn't actually appeared in the novels yet but gets referenced lots: if Mick Jagger Strike's notorious glam rock star father with multiple offspring ever should show up in the tv series, can he be played by Bill Nighy? Alternatively, Dennis Waterman. And for the literary agent from the second novel, Lesley Sharpe.

Above all: dear scriptwriters, don't make the mistake Sarah Phelps did with The Casual Vacancy and take away any bite the novels have. It's not that I think JKR's writing is perfect, absolutely not, but the tv adaption of The Casual Vacancy threw away so much of what made the novel interesting in favor of bland jollinesss; do not want. still trying to get my head around the idea of Burke as Cormoran Strike. Ah well. Maybe he'll surprise me: it has happened before, with several actors.
selenak: (Branagh by Dear_Prudence)
Aka the one where JKR unleashes her fondness for 70s hard rock and distaste for serial killers and glamorized bad boys.

Career of Evil is an odd duck for me: on the one hand, it does several things better than in the second novel (imo, as always), on the other, it's missing some of the aspects which the missing made me realise I loved about the two previous ones. For example: on the plus side, whereas Robin isn't really present in the first third of The Silkworm and doesn't really come to the fore until the second half of the novel, here in Career of Evil she really gets the same narrative room as Cormoran Strike does; if anything, I suspect Robin gets more pages. And as I'd hoped, her development as a detective is a big issue.

On the minus side: Cuckoo's Call took on the fashion world, The Silkworm the publishing industry. This was the occasion for some great social comedy (and btw, the publishing industry was depicted as far more vicious than the fashion industry in terms of characters, which is, err, INTERESTING) and hilarious one liners. Career of Evil, otoh, doesn't tackle any industry, but it does tackle abusive relationships, big time. Which not so surprisingly means there isn't any satire or humor in the book, and only by its absence did I realise its presence contributed to the charm of the earlier two. I mean, I totally get why if all of your suspects are abusive, there isn't any opportunity for quips, but it contributes to the dark tone.

Some of the things I expected to happen after the last volume don't (though they still may), such as Cormoran Strike's ex fiancee Charlotte ending up as a victim or a murder suspect; instead, Charlotte isn't in the book at all. Nor is Strike's half brother who got introduced in the last volume. Otoh, we find out more about Strike's mother Leda, who gets fleshed out beyond "groupie, dead, death forming event of son's life" to a real character in retrospect. (And btw, only now it occurs to me that given JKR's penchant for using mythology-related names in a certain other book series, naming her hero's mother "Leda" and having her involved with rock gods probably makes him either Castor or Pollux.) Which is very welcome, and also fitting thematically because mothers are a big issue in the novel: both those of our detecting duo (Robin's mother Linda is great, striking just the perfect balance between being supportive while avoiding being intrusive) and mothers involved with the suspects.

Speaking of whom: at the start of the novel, Robin gets send a human leg to the office, and both Robin and reader learn to their amazement Strike doesn't just have one but FOUR men in his past who could have mailed him such a gruesome parcel. Which means the whodunit aspect of the book is figuring out which of the four it is. The one who never is a serious candidate (and never shows up on page, so to speak) is the one the police suspect most, naturally, a professional gangster. Two of the others are cases from Strike's time in the military police, and the fourth is his dastardly stepfather whom he suspects of having killed his mother. (Who officially died of an heroin overdose, but as Strike's sister Lucy told Robin in the last novel, young Cormoran never believed that.) This makes Strike less than objective when comes to Whittaker (the guy in question), as Robin points out, and of course made me as a reader suspect Whittaker was a red herring as well. Though he and the other two candidates are all equally vile. And all abusive, in various ways. One (Robin's favourite suspect for a while) is a pedophile, the other two are more into hurting women. Which brings me to mothers, the full variety: there's a mother who disowned her son in horror, a mother of one of the abused children who didn't want to know and looked a way, a mother who really didn't know and is behind her child 100% when she finds out in horror, a sister who got to raise her much younger sister (the first victim) as a mother, a mother had her parents raise her kid as her brother. And, like I said, Robin's living and Strike's dead mother, who turns out to have been the defiantly fierce earth mother type picking up strays which sometimes worked out well (one new character we meet is a cheerfull criminal with an undying loyalty to Strike because Leda saved his life when he was a kid on the streets) and sometimes not at all (Whittaker, who started out as Leda's much younger boy toy). She also had some of her favourite Blue Öyster Cult song lyrics tattooed - which provide the titel of the novel as well -, and the fact the limb sending killer quotes them is another reason why Strike suspects Whittaker. Who, two decades down the road, has lost some looks and still has the same lack of personal hygiene (complete with greasy hair, which is a phrase familiar to HP readers, but otoh he also kept his "heretic priest eyes"), which means no more adult women, but young girls, alas, still fall for his bad boy charisma (and the current one ended up pimped and regularly beaten up by him). Why yes, this novel is defnitely an issue fanfic, so to speak. Laing, the other wife abuser, also had his wife (before she got nearly killed by him) declaring he was just misunderstood to her appalled parents. In fairness, the pedophile, otoh, poses as a heroic good guy to the mothers of the children he's after, who definitely aren't drawn to bad boys, but the other two provide the novel with more than enough material for an exasparated venting of the "this is what happens when you go for charismatic jerks in real life" type, with a sideline of "serial killers aren't glamorous intellectuals, they're pathetic misogynistic creeps" .

So much for the criminal case(s) of the novel. On to emotional developments for Our Heroes which I shall hide beneath a spoiler cut. )

In conclusion, while I read this novel in two nights, I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the former two for the above named reasons. I also hope this excursion in to the serial killer genre remains the last, and the next case Strike and Robin will tackle will involve murder for financial greed or jealousy or whatever mundane reason again, complete with some social satire.

Trivia: Between Leda Strike being a big Blue Öyster Cult fan, her son still knowing those lyrics at heart and various complimentary descriptions of their music at various points of the novel, as well as their songs providing the lead quotes for every chapter (the way Jacobean revenge dramas did for the last novel), I suspect JKR likes that band as well...
selenak: (Claudius by Pixelbee)
The second detective novel J.K. Rowling wrote as Robert Galbraith; since she was outed as the author last time, it became known seven are planned all in all, as with the Harry Potter books. Since I like her main characters (Cormoran Strike, surly detective with a fondness for methodical record keeping, and his assistant Robin), I'm glad to hear that. All in all, I enjoyed their second outing, with some nitpicks.

Spoilers await, though not the identity of the killer )


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