“Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith, Mulholland Books/Little, Brown & Company, 489 pages, $28, h ardcover

The Cormoran Strike series may need a new name — The Adventures of Cormoran and Robin, perhaps? Maybe not, as I feel both characters would probably hate that name. Nevertheless, J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, takes the third book in a slightly different direction by turning her focus to Cormoran Strike’s assistant, Robin Ellacott.

Robin is a main character in the previous novels, but those focused more on exploring Strike’s backstory and hinting at Robin’s mysterious past. “Career of Evil” delves into that past, and some of the events that are examined help to explain Robin’s present.

The book opens with a severed leg being delivered to Robin in the mail, and Strike immediately goes to work to find out who could have sent it.

He believes it is a person from his past trying to set him up, and he and Robin travel around the country tracking down these shadowy figures.

These travels put more strain on Robin’s relationship with her fiancé as their wedding approaches. And both Robin and Strike work to keep their conflicting feelings about one another under wraps.

Rowling does an excellent job keeping the mystery alive throughout the entire novel — at one point I thought I had it solved, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself very off base.

After writing in fantasy for so long, the author seems determined to ground herself in gritty reality, bringing scenes of violence and depravity to the pages. Despite this, the characters bring levity and good nature to the book and keep it from being too dark.