The Silkworm: A Cormoran Strike Novel
In THE CUCKOO’S CALLING, the first in a new crime series by Robert Galbraith --- J.K. Rowling’s pen name --- we met Cormoran Strike, an ex-military man who is tall, a touch overweight (likely due to a foot that was blown off in Afghanistan) and quietly brilliant in his recently chosen civilian career as a private investigator. Last year, he proved that a supermodel’s death was not a suicide as the police had ruled it, winning him few friends at Scotland Yard but helping his bottom line with an upsurge in clients.
Now he has been hired by a (not-so) famous novelist’s wife to find her runaway husband. She says that hubby Owen Quine has been gone for 10 days. Enough’s enough; he’s needed at home. Owen has done this kind of thing before. He’s a writer, after all, and writers are, well, emotional. Sometimes he turns up at a girlfriend’s, but he always comes home. It’s just been too long this time. Rashly, Strike turns away more lucrative work in order to take on this case, but there’s something about Leonora Quine that cries out to him for help.
"Rowling’s irrepressible style surfaces in myriad ways. She can’t keep her whimsical side under total control, and it comes out notably in the creation of her characters’ names and in dramatic reactions to situations."
Along with his undeniably attractive assistant, Robin, Strike chases clues for a few days before Owen’s body is discovered in a brutal and bloody murder scene. There’s no shortage of suspects, for Owen had, only days before his disappearance, submitted a manuscript for his new book, which included a host of London literary personalities depicted in a variety of depraved and often pornographic ways. Besides showing himself to be a cheating husband, a boyfriend handing out empty promises, and a writer of little talent and great expectations, Owen also furnished plenty of people a motive with his characterizations of them, his old cronies, one-time friends and, yes, even lifelong enemies.
In the midst of one of the fiercest snowstorms London has seen in years, Strike launches himself into a frenzy of activity in an attempt to keep his mind from the fast-approaching wedding of Charlotte, his off-and-on girlfriend of 16 years. He would love to bounce ideas off Robin more and more, but she’s busy with her own wedding plans and her fiancé seems determined to hate Strike. Maneuvering around in ice with a prosthesis intent on causing him more agony with each succeeding day leaves him exhausted, cranky and prone to letting his guard down. These are the times when accidents happen. He will need to be more clever than ever to catch this killer.
Detective Cormoran Strike is no Harry Potter, the likes of whom comes along only once in a lifetime. But there’s no denying his inimitable approach to the world of sleuthing, with a personality combining a bit of Sam Spade with Sherlock Holmes. And Robin Ellacott, his secretary or whatever he’s defining her as, is about half Miss Wonderly and half Dr. Watson. And they’re both a hundred percent unique.
Rowling’s irrepressible style surfaces in myriad ways. She can’t keep her whimsical side under total control, and it comes out notably in the creation of her characters’ names and in dramatic reactions to situations. As with her smashing Harry Potter series, THE SILKWORM is full of great plot, twists and turns, and cheeky dialogue.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on July 2, 2014