Rowling scores again in new genre
IF you have an appetite for dark mystery, with sides of intrigue, then the latest offering by Robert Galbraith will leave you fully satiated and hoping for thirds. The Silkworm, the second book to feature London private investigator Cormoran Strike, is every bit as captivating as the first, The Cuckoo’s Calling.
Galbraith, whom everyone now knows as that scrappy young writer, J.K. Rowling, creates a cast of sympathetic characters that are extremely easy to identify and connect with. On the other side of the coin are a well-described posse of unsavoury personalities for Cormoran and his capable assistant, Robin, to go head-to-head with.
Rowling’s almost literary prose is descriptive and highly evocative, affording the reader the opportunity to place himself in the master investigator’s shoes. She uses her past experience with the Harry Potter series with consummate ease, wielding her literary capability with dexterity to keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride, serving up shocks after surprises.
The book begins with Cormoran taking on a new client for what seems to be a cut-and-dried investigation into her husband, Owen’s, disappearance. As Cormoran follows up leads, he and Robin come to realise that this case is more sinister than anyone suspects.
Owen, a narcissistic author with a penchant for writing bad Gothic yet surrealist erotica, has recently completed his self-described opus, a macabre, ghoulish book that openly insults and defames his contemporaries and peers. When Owen is found dead, his dead body arranged as described in one scene in his book, one has to wonder if bad literature is worth killing over.
As Cormoran and Robin race around London uncovering clues, the whole seething, vicious underbelly of the literary world is exposed, layer by layer. Writers, it appears, have fangs. Facing everything from eccentric editors to brutal agents, Cormoran is forced to enter a world he knows nothing about, rushing against time to crack the case and deliver justice.
The conclusion of the book is nail-bitingly good, and Rowling ties up all the loose ends with an ease that doesn’t feel rushed or trite at all. All the clues are there, you just need Cormoran Strike to put it all together.
I loved this book. I rarely get to say that about new books and I’m thrilled that Rowling and her new venture have obviously matured, bringing her characters with her. The Silkworm is, dare I say it, even better than the first book. Most of Rowling’s main cast are given a well-deserved rounding out, giving each character a depth and a humanity that engenders a true affinity between the reader and each character.
This is most evident in Rowling’s treatment of Robin Ellacott. Cormoran’s long-suffering assistant was one of my favourite characters in The Cuckoo’s Calling. I really appreciate the way Rowling has grown Robin as a character in this book, bringing her from extremely capable yet hidden-in-the-shadows assistant to the forefront and allowing her personality to shine, perfectly complementing Strike’s.
Rowling’s flair for dialogue is also present throughout the book, always hitting the right notes, never sounding forced. Writing teenage wizard dialogue must be good practice.
I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting. Rowling has a gift for prose that seems to grow each time she wakes up and feels like throwing words together. The Silkworm was an enthralling mystery, and to call it a simple whodunit seems like a slight injustice. I eagerly await the next book from Rowling, who has proven herself a true master of the genre. Bring on more Cormoran and Robin, the dynamic gumshoe duo of London!