When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days — as he has done before — and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel is published it will ruin lives — so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…
First published: 2014
The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series and I’d been wanting to read it since before it came out. It was kind of expensive though, but back in December I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to buy it anyway. I loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, so I had high hopes for this second novel. And it delivered!
The novel picks up a few months after The Cuckoo’s Calling and Strike is doing well. Because of his success with the Lula Landry case he now has a lot of work, and is very well on his way to paying of his debts. Robin is still working for him, even though her fiancé Matthew is less than happy with her choice to do so. What I really liked about the start of the novel is the sense of continuity — the explanation of what happened after the previous case. It’s not just a new book with a new story; the overarching story (of Strike and Robin’s lives) is still there.
Probably the best thing (together with the amazing plot — I’ll get to that) about The Silkworm is the character development. Both Strike and Robin are such round characters. They don’t have one defining characteristic, but have all these different traits, some of them quite surprising. Not only that, but these characters are flawed, and I love me some flawed characters! Strike is very obviously scarred (both physically and mentally), but besides the more obvious flaws, he also has these little things. For example, he is terrible with children. He has no idea how to behave around them, and I found that utterly amusing. He is also a brilliant detective, though, and I loved to “watch” him work.
And then there’s Robin, who is often described as a sort of angelic character, but can be so frustrating. She’s quick to jump to (often faulty) conclusions and can be childishly sulky, but also shows a fierce side to herself. I loved that! In this novel we got to know a little bit more about both of these two characters, and I’m very much looking forward to learning even more about them in the third book of the series.
A detective novel requires an intricate plot, and we all know Galbraith/Rowling is the master of intricate plots… The Cuckoo’s Calling had a great one, but I think Galbraith really outdid himself with The Silkworm. The murder that’s been committed seems to revolve around a book that Quine finished writing right before his death. I kept thinking (along with Strike) that the clue had to be in the book, and I was getting almost as obsessed with it as all of the characters in The Silkworm.
Besides this awesome murder plot, however, there are so many great subplots as well, most of them to do with Strike and Robin’s personal lives. I really came to care about these characters, and I got all wound up about a lot that happened. I’m finding it hard to write something substantial about the plot without giving too much away, though.
Funnily enough, this book wasn’t a pageturner for me up until the last 70 pages or so. That was the case with The Cuckoo’s Calling as well, and I can’t really put my finger on why. These books just take a little longer for me to read (this one took me ten days). I really love the story, but don’t mind putting it away for a bit either. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t become truly fast-paced until those final 50 to 70 pages. That doesn’t matter though, because once you get to that ending… Like I said at the start of this post — it really delivers.