That Robert Galbraith! Already has a second book out! It’s like magic!
Okay, so now that I have the really obvious joke out of the way, I can now go on about Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, and her second crime thriller novel, the voluminous The Silkworm.
J.K. Rowling by the way, for those clueless Muggles, is the author of the mega classic Harry Potter series of books. She decided to go deep undercover with these dark novels, all with an alias, that was unfortunately blown shortly after publication of the first book The Cuckoo’s Calling.
Cormoran Strike is the star of the series, a down and out private eye who is slowly crawling out of much self inflicted muck both financially and personally, and in this one is very annoyed at all the publicity the case from The Cuckoo’s Calling has generated. The only good thing Cormoran sees is the higher paying clientele who have him following errant spouses.
He is very ably assisted by Robin Ellacott, his accidental receptionist and quite often investigative partner. She is computer savvy, which he is most certainly not, and as we discover a most excellent and skilled driver.
In The Silkworm, Cormoran is hired by an eccentric woman whose husband, an egotistical and barely quasi successful author named Owen Quine, has gone missing. Reluctant at first, he starts to track down where this obnoxious man might be. And eventually finds him. Dead. In a very gross way.
Now Cormoran and Robin must navigate the weird personalities and quirky lives of all sorts of publishing people, some with years and years of emotional baggage and age old grudges. This is all made worse for the investigation as Owen Quine’s final manuscript, the Bombyx Mori, is making its way through the literati and is full of extremely unflattering portrayals of many many people.
Complicating matters of course is the dual personal problems of Cormoran and Robin. His ex is getting married and pouring salt on that wound. Her fiance can’t stand Strike and makes that very clear.
One of the things I liked about the fist volume was the developing professional relationship between Cormoran and Robin. Their rapport and almost complete no nonsense dealing with each other gave me a partial Doctor Who and Companion vibe. But for some reason in this one, J.K. decides to upend this a bit by having Cormoran notice how attractive Robin is. My headcannon could not accept this and kept trying to forget those little bits. Thankfully J.K. seems to as well, since this gets mentioned less and less as the story progresses.
Which is not the only subplot that dangles in the beginning and dissipates halfway through. The long continuing arguing between Robin and her fiance Matthew over Strike and her pay and all sorts of other issues just kinda peters out also at the halfway point. I have a theory The Silkworm, which is already over 450 pages in hardcover, was originally even longer, so these subplots had to be cut short and shuffled off to the sequeal.
As for the mystery, it is twisty and turny and makes sense at the end. So yes, I was completely wrong 100 percent as to the culprit and why. But a word of warning. The descriptions of the murder and murder scene is fairly graphic. As is the parts mentioning the contents of Bombyx Mori. Not for the faint of heart.
I cannot help believe J.K. based the reaction to Quine’s book, along with its potentially libelous writings, on the before publication possible swirling about The Casual Vacancy. That was her first post Harry Potter book, a very decided adult in nature story about small town politics. That one just felt so much like J.K. painting veiled portraits of people she knew growing up. Art imitating life imitating life I guess?
The Silkworm is a great book and solid second part of J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike first trilogy. It will be interesting to see how far the evil goes in her next one, and where Cormoran and Robin end up as they face another test of their partnership.
…is currently reading Star Trek Prime Directive by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. The first Star Trek novel I have read in almost twenty years.