‘The Silkworm’ is the second novel by Robert Galbraith featuring ex-military policeman turned private detective Cormoran Strike. In his latest case, Strike is hired by the wife of Owen Quine, a little-known author who has gone off by himself for a few days and is expected to return home once he has been found. However, Quine had recently completed a new novel entitled ‘Bombyx Mori’ featuring grotesque pen-portraits thinly disguised as various people he knows. The unpublished manuscript has already been circulating the literary world and having made a considerable number of enemies, Quine is later discovered brutally murdered.
It has now been just over a year since Robert Galbraith was revealed to be a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling three months after the first book in the Cormoran Strike series ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling‘ had been quietly published in April 2013. Even if a solicitor hadn’t told his wife’s friend who subsequently shared the secret with a journalist, I suspect that it would have been discovered through some other means by now. Either way, literary crime fiction is a genre which really suits Rowling and she deserves recognition for what is shaping up to be a consistently excellent series full of intriguing characters.
In the second outing for the formidable Cormoran Strike,
Rowling Galbraith turns to the publishing world. Set in late 2010, the story picks up eight months after the Lula Landry case was solved and unsurprisingly, Strike has now become something of a reluctant celebrity. ‘The Silkworm’ is more macabre than ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ with a denser plot and deepening character development. Robin is still running the administration of the business but is keen to branch out and develop her detective skills alongside Strike. However, her fiancé Matthew is much less approving of Robin’s preferred career which creates tension throughout and I am keen to see where this aspect of the story is taken in future volumes.
I correctly guessed the identity of the murderer based on a clue which proved they had been present at the scene of the crime. However, the more complex reasons behind why and how Owen was murdered were still intriguing to unravel. The book is heavily descriptive but the blending of the classic and contemporary aspects of crime fiction which made ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ so entertaining to read is equally successful in ‘The Silkworm’. Moreover, ‘The Silkworm’ reads like a book which its author genuinely enjoyed crafting, particularly the scenes featuring some of the more unsavoury characters which were clearly great fun to create.
Fans of Cormoran Strike will be pleased to hear that Rowling has hinted this week that there will be at least seven books in the series. She has also confirmed that the next instalment will explore what happens to those who leave the military in more depth. I, for one, can’t wait.