Television: Strike three – tale of the missing parts

Written By: Les Hull
Published: March 9, 2018 Last modified: March 9, 2018

Television: Strike three – tale of the missing parts

 

Strike: Career of Evil,

BBC1.

 

The third Cormoran Strike mystery, based on the novel by JK Rowling under the name of Robert Galbraith, has finally aired. Like the previous Strike outings, it ticks the three important boxes to make a good detective story: characterisation, atmospheric sense of place and a clever puzzle to unravel.

Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger have absolutely consolidated their performances as Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott; the latest male/female double act of crime solvers – perhaps set to become the Paul Temple and Steve, or Nick and Nora Charles (from The Thin Man series) of their day. The difference with this partnership is that Cormoran and Robin are not romantically involved – although there is a constant suggestion that they might become so.

Rowling’s third Strike tale, adapted by Tom Edge, is probably the grimmest to date – concerning a serial killer who likes to cut up his victims and send pieces to Robin. Such tales have become somewhat controversial, with some feminist critics saying there are many where women are being killed because of their gender. But the more traditional story in which a woman (or man) bis dispatched so that someone can benefit from a will is not necessarily a more wholesome reason for committing a murder.

Be that as it may, this TV drama does not seem to have attracted these negative comments –  possibly because it features strong elements of women fighting back. Robin, in particular, refuses to be a “victim”,  and we celebrate her refusal to let herself be intimidated.

Edge has scripted a fast-paced pair of instalments, capturing some of the best moments from Rowling’s long novel in two hours. But the book would have been even better served with three hours of television. Two hours felt slightly rushed.  Those familiar with the book may think that too much had to be cut out. That said, director Charles Sturridge succeeded in bringing off some compelling moments – two of the killer’s attacks prompted quite a jolt.

Now the wait is on for the fourth Strike novel.  Let’s hope the screen dramatisation of it is in three part rather than two.