Robin and Strike investigate a serial killer whose past is linked to Strike. Due to the fact that there are only four real suspects that provide by Strike and that the killer get his own point of view section in which you see some of the murders happen – this mystery isn't particular interesting nor fun to solve. The Strike/Robin relationship is further developed in this book, which is good because otherwise this would have been 400 pages of stakeouts interspersed with scenes of horrific assaults. In short, it's boring. J.K. Rowling can still propel me through a story, but I'm amazed that this particular story took so many pages to tell.
My least favorite part about this book was the use of rape as a back-story. When a female character needs a life-altering turning point in her past that explains her decisions and current trajectory, rape gets slotted in as the most traumatic event possible. [It really, really bothered me that Robin was saddled with this back-story. On one hand, this is a book about the prevalence of violent assault, but on the other hand, this gives a weird tinge to Robin's desire to become a detective. Rowling takes care to explicitly say that Robin wanted to be an investigator before the rape, but I wholeheartedly wish that that wasn't even in the mix.
It felt like a cheap way to explain why Robin and Matthew are still together. Relationship are complicated and messy. They don't always make logical sense to an external viewer, and they sometimes don't even make sense to the people in them. The rape back-story reduces Robin and Matthew to a comfort-level relationship where Robin holds on to him only because of her past. In a way, it would be more interesting for inertia to play a bigger role, without the linchpin of Robin's trauma. Matthew gets written as an even bigger asshole (excuse me, "wanker") in this book, which felt like an excuse for the Robin/Strike relationship to develop rather than a true picture of the nine-year Robin/Matthew relationship.
It's even harder to understand why Robin and Matthew get back together, outside of that inertia and nine years, when you don't see any of the good parts that must exist. And the fact that the book ends on Robin's "I do" felt cheap. On one hand, yes, the Robin/Strike relationship is what keeps me going through these books. On the other hand, are these mystery novels or not? Shouldn't the mysteries be good enough that I don't have to be distracted overly by the other drama?
After reading this, I can't see myself continue with this series. I adore The Cuckoo's Calling and eh The Silkworm was okay, I prefer Silkworm over Career of Evil. If you like this book, power to you.