The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

the silkworm“Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.”

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

I realised that despite of my post about the furore around J.K. Rowling using a pseudonym to write The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in her Cormoran Strike series, I haven’t actually written a review of the book, for which I apologise. I read it on my way home from New York last October and enjoyed it, so I was quite excited that Robert Galbraith’s latest offering was available just in time for my holiday in Malta- after all, there’s nothing like a mysterious and gruesome to distract you from the fact that you’re dangerously high in the air in an aluminium can.

Cormoran Strike finds himself compelled to take on the apparently straightforward case of a pretentious author who has performed a melodramatic vanishing act when his agent and publisher refuse to touch his latest novel, but it quickly becomes clear that the case is more complex than it seems. The publishing world has closed ranks about the libellous manuscript filled with vicious portraits of key figures in the literary establishment, revealing their darkest secrets, so when Strike finds the missing author murdered in exactly the same way as the hero of the author’s manuscript it becomes clear that a very dangerous person is willing to go to any lengths to hide their role in his death.

Rowling is a fantastic writer and if you’re a fan of crime fiction I’ve no doubt that you’d enjoy this book. I get the feeling that she must have had enormous fun writing it, there are several references in the novel to the catharsis that comes with writing and I’d imagine that there’s a lot that she’d like to vent about in terms of literary snobbery, bitter rivals and online critics. Cormoran Strike is a bit of an enigma, there are vast aspects of his character that I get the feeling are going to be drawn out in later novels in the series, though that was a little frustrating when in the “here and now” of the story- the frequent references to his ex for example…I’m assuming that she’s going to play a bigger role in a future novel and that explains why the ghost of her needs to be kept alive for now but at times it felt a little like overkill.

On the whole, I didn’t think that the plotting was as neatly managed as the first manuscript in the series, but I did find it far more enjoyable for the characterisation and sense of mischief that was carried throughout. I hope a third addition to the series is already in the works.

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