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Characters / Career of Evil

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This page is for character introduced in the novel Career of Evil. For characters who appear across the series, see here.

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     Shanker 

'Shanker'

An old friend from Strike's past with an entrepeneurial view of the law.


  • Chekhov's Gunman: It's J.K. Rowling, what were you expecting? Shanker is mentioned early on in The Cuckoo's Calling as someone Strike knows who works on the other side of the law. He's finally introduced in this book and his and Strike's backstory is more fleshed out.
  • Face of a Thug: Subverted. Shanker looks like a terrifying criminal, and he can be. However, he's quite civil to Robin, appears to respect women generally, and acts protectively towards a young child who's being sexually abused.
  • Genius Bruiser: While Shanker is not as big as Strike, he's a nasty fighter who doesn't hesitate to put suspects into headlocks, when he's not pulling knives on them. However, Strike describes him as sharper and more sober than many businessmen.
  • Knife Nut: His favourite means of dealing with problems.
  • Missing Mom: His mother disappeared when he was quite young and he clung to Leda as a result.
  • Morality Pet: Leda was one to him.
  • My Greatest Failure: He regrets buying drugs at a time when Leda was dying, and believes that his absence is what allowed Whittaker to murder her.
  • Restraining Bolt: He acts as a version for Whittaker. Whittaker is a violent man; so is Shanker. Shanker loves Leda, and sees Whittaker as a threat to her. However, he lacks the same self-restraint that's keeping Cormoran, Leda's son, from flat-out murdering Whittaker.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Explicitly identified as why Shanker has spent half his adult life in jail.
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The Suspects

The four men from Strike’s past that he suspects are capable of sending him a severed human leg.

     Terrence Malley 

Terrence ‘Digger’ Malley

A boss with the Harringay Crime Syndicate, who was sent to prison on account of Strike’s testimony.


  • The Dreaded: He has a fearsome reputation in the criminal underworld.
  • The Ghost: He is mentioned a lot early in the novel, but never makes an appearance in the flesh.
  • Finger in the Mail: He once sent a man’s severed penis to someone else as a message.

     Donald Laing 

Donald Laing

A former soldier who served in the King’s Own Royal Borderers. Strike got him convicted of the torture of his wife.


  • Abusive Parents: According to Donald, his mother was verbally abusive and emotionally unavailable. His stepfather was a physically abusive drunk, and to top it off, his biological father was never in the picture.
  • The Charmer: Laing has always had the ability to charm people and get them to trust him.
  • Evil Redhead: The man’s hair color is often compared to a fox’s, never as a complement.
  • Formerly Fit: When Strike first met him, Laing was lean and massively muscled, but by the time of the story, he has become fat.
  • Genius Bruiser: While nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is, Laing possesses vast amounts of low cunning that one wouldn’t expect from such a massive guy.
  • Obfuscating Disability: He is only pretending to still need crutches.
  • The Sociopath: Strike’s evaluation of the man is that he is a true sociopath, and his actions past and present amply demonstrate it.

     Noel Brockbank 

Noel Brockbank

A former soldier who served in the Seventh Armored Brigade. A vicious pedophile, he escaped conviction as a result of an incident when Strike tried to arrest him.


  • Abusive Parents: His father abused him and his sister when they were children.
  • Bouncer: Over the years, this is the only job that he has been able to get, but he never lasts long.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: He sexually molested his sister when they were both children.
  • Evil Cripple: An undiagnosed skull fracture sustained during a rugby match coupled with his physical confrontation with Strike (while trying to arrest him) left him with a form of epilepsy for the rest of his days.
  • Karma Houdini: As a result of his injuries during his arrest, he was able to escape the charges for raping his stepdaughter. Thanks to Robin, he is eventually caught for molesting the daughter of his latest girlfriend.
  • Pædo Hunt: He has a habit of molesting little girls.

     Jeff Whittaker 

Jeff Whittaker

Strike’s stepfather, who Strike believes was responsible for the death of Leda Strike.


  • The Charmer: Whittaker was always able to exert a great degree of control over women.
  • Driven by Envy: He deeply resents people who are more famous, believing himself entitled to fame and fortune.
  • Gold Digger: A male version. He married Leda Strike because he was convinced that all the children she had with famous musicians meant she had a ton of money hidden somewhere. He was wrong.
  • It's All About Me: He is supremely narcissistic and thinks the world revolves around him.
  • Karma Houdini: If Strike is right about him, he was able to get away with the murder of his wife. Twice. As of the end of the story, he still gets away with abusing Stephanie and dealing drugs.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: How he allegedly murdered Leda Strike, by making it look like a heroin overdose.
  • May–December Romance: When he married Leda, he was closer in age to her son than he was to her. By the time the story takes place, the situation is inverted, as he is involved with a girl barely out of her teens.
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