Series: Cormoran Strike
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: realistic investigation, alibi-breaking, literary mystery, enjoyable prose, grisly murder, some lighter moments
Quick Review: Great addition to a very promising series, this book and the characters feel familiar from the beginning. Strike and Robin are old friends to readers, and you should definitely pick this up to learn more about them as they solve another complex and engaging mystery.
Private detective Cormoran Strike is hired by the wife of missing novelist Owen Quine, who she believes has gone off by himself for a few days as he had done before, to locate him. But something about the case catches Strike’s attention, and the unflattering portraits of many of Quine’s literary contemporaries in his latest novel have made him a lot of enemies. Following a grisly discovery by Strike, he is once again at odds with the police in order to help clear up a seemingly unsolvable mystery in order to save an innocent person from prison.
THE SILKWORM is the second Cormoran Strike novel written by J.K. Rowling under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Once again, she brings the reader everything that they enjoyed about the first novel, but this time, we get a bit of a closer look into Strike’s history.
First of all, though, a note on how THE SILKWORM fits into the series. While this novel can be read as a stand-alone – that is, anything you need to know about the characters and their history can be picked up throughout the novel – I would recommend reading THE CUCKOO’S CALLING prior to this one. It will give you the fullest introduction to Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott, their relationship and skills. Plus, it’s fantastic.
Strike and Robin are such interesting characters, it’s great to see more of who they are, how they work together, and a bit of an evolution into their newfound notoriety after the events of the first novel. THE SILKWORM gives us more of Strike’s history – including introductions to more family, friends, childhood memories, and a better idea of what caused him to lose the lower portion of one leg in Afghanistan. We also get to see how Robin’s job causes some tension in her home life, and how she deals with it.
All of this new character information is intertwined with a grisly but fascinating murder case. This portion of the plot is the only point which – to me – was slightly inferior to the first novel. The motivations and characters involved were all very interesting, but the method of the murder itself seemed a little over the top. Although that was part of the point, it did not fit quite as well with the almost gritty realism of Strike’s dogged style of investigation as the previous novel.
Despite this, I would still wholeheartedly recommend picking up THE SILKWORM for a great read. Rowling’s exceptional writing talent makes reading this book feel like you are coming home to old friends.