Review of Silkworm by Robert Galbraith AKA J K Rowling (Obligatory SPOILER KLAXON)

silkwormSo this is the second book of the Cormoran Strike detective novels written by J K Rowling under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan and I really enjoyed the first book Cuckoo’s Calling. I like to think that had I read Cuckoo’s Calling before Galbraith was unmasked I would have suspected something because, Rowling’s distinctive writing style is very evident throughout both books.

On to the book then. Silkworm picks up some months after the events of Cuckoo’s Calling. Strike’s financial pressures have lessened somewhat and Robin is now working full time as his secretary/detective.

Strike however is unfulfilled at spending his time trailing philanderers and divorcees and finds himself compelled to dive into the search for missing writer Owen Quine. To no reader’s surprise Quine turns up brutally murdered and now Strike is investigating a murder.

Overall, I have conflicted feelings about the mystery hook in Silkworm.

On the one hand I don’t think it is as good as the locked room mystery in the first book. The murder takes a long time to occur and a lot of the intrigue centers on who had access to the manuscript and when. This just isn’t as tense and gripping as the events of book one and without a single scene to keep track of the list of suspects seems rather diffuse.

It is possible that some of the reason why I think this though is because, Rowling pulled her favourite trick of hiding a crucial detail in plain sight early on and I missed it.

So what I’m saying is my opinion might have been swayed by the annoyance of falling for the same thing that Rowling has done numerous times in her other books (believe it or not but as a child reading Potter I tended to pick up on these things so I guess I’m getting dumber).

If the murder mystery is solid but unspectacular however this is more than made up for by the characters.

The character’s relationship troubles, friendships, likes and dislikes are realistic and each character in the book from a put upon waitress to the murder suspects feels like a real person.  When you compare this to the cut and paste 2D characters in the critically lauded “The Shadow of the Wind” you really get a sense of why Rowling/Galbraith’s books are so good and enjoyable.

Silkworm isn’t a classic but it is a very readable novel. Furthermore, the slow reveal of character back story offers some truly great possibilities for murder and mayhem in later books. I would recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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