Title: The Silkworm
Author: Robert Galbraith
Page Count/Review Word Count: 456
The first thing to mention is that Robert Galbraith is J. K. Rowling’s pseudonym, and so in many ways you know what you’re getting here. If you’ve read Rowling’s work before – and let’s face it, you should have – then you know that her name alone is a guarantee of a certain level of quality right from the get go. Unfortunately, in many ways, that acts against her – it sets expectations high, and it also biases the reader before they get started. I suspect that that’s why she started using her pseudonym in the first place.
With that out of the way, we can start to talk about the story line. This book is the second of three that follows the adventures of private detective Cormoran Strike, and while I managed to read the three of them out of order, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Sure, the story of Strike’s life follows from one book to another, but seeing as the man is pretty much consumed by his work, it’s only a minor detail.
In this book, Strike – and his assistant, Robin – are recruited to investigate the disappearance of a writer called Owen Quine, who’s managed to offend almost the entire literary world with his constant shenanigans. Quine was gearing up to release a new novel and disappeared just when he was due to release it, and his long-suffering wife asks Strike and Robin to investigate his disappearance.
And then Quine is found dead. Personally, I’d call that a spoiler because it doesn’t happen until about a third of the way through the book, but it’s revealed on the rear cover and so I guess I can say it. That annoyed me – it basically made me feel as though the first chunk of the novel was really just a long rehash of what was on the rear cover, and I was impatient for the body to be discovered so that I could find out what happened next.
It was also a little too meta for my preference – in writing about Quine, Rowling herself took the chance to take a few shots at the industry, and I’ve always felt a little bit weird about it when writers write about writers. Stephen King does it all of the time, to the point at which it starts to feel cliche or self-indulgent, but he also usually pulls it off and Rowling/Galbraith did it here, too.
Overall then, this is a very respectable crime novel and certainly worth a 4/5. However, I also thought it was the weakest in the trilogy, and not as good as some of the other books on the market.