The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (pen name for Harry Potter author JK Rowling). Hardened-vet turned detective returns in this book to solve an even grizzlier murder. Along to help him is assistant and wanna-be detective Robin Ellacott (I hope these 2 get together – no spoilers as I haven’t read the 3rd or 4th novels yet!)
This mystery surrounds the murder of novelist Owen Quine. When Owen goes missing, his wife hires Strike to investigate his disappearance. Owen has a habit of going off by himself for a few days—as he is an eccentric writer and has done this before—but his wife asks Strike to find him and bring him home. Soon it becomes clear that there is a lot more to this disappearance than anyone realizes. Owen has finished his latest manuscript which contains negative caricatures of people he knows and if published, could ruin many people’s lives. When Owen is found murdered in the same horrific way as the main character of his novel, Strike must deal with a wide array of shady people who could certainly want Owen dead.
In the first novel, a beautiful model breaks her neck after a fall from her apartment balcony. Not so gory. In THIS book, however, the victim is murdered in a very grotesque way, and therefore parts of this book aren’t for readers with weak stomachs.
I absolutely love the idea of a writer using his novel to seek revenge on those he felt wronged him. (I can’t say I haven’t played around with that idea myself! And I’m almost positive I’m not the only author who has wanted to, or actually done so!) This mystery was so well constructed that it was nearly impossible to guess who the murderer is. In fact, at several points in the story, I mistakenly thought it could be multiple people who were in it all together. My favorite mystery novels are those where I couldn’t guess who did it – or I was wrong altogether and the ending surprises me. This one had me guessing all the way through.
I am not a fan of gory books. Horror and gore do not interest me. If the writing wasn’t so good and the mystery not so tightly written, I would have had trouble finishing some parts detailing the murder scene (which is mentioned often). As stated above, I haven’t read the third or fourth Cormoran Strike novels, and I do hope they aren’t as “messy”.
I would also like to address some comments I have seen about this series of books regarding the foul language used by Strike. While this isn’t a fantasy novel aimed at teens and young adults (Hello Harry Potter fans), I think Ms. Rowling’s use of language for Strike is on character and totally believable. He’s a very rough guy who has lived a very rough life – he wouldn’t speak like a nun! Readers want authenticity, so you can’t complain when one of the most successful authors of our generation gives it to you. *Rant over*
I would absolutely recommend this book to any mystery/thriller fan (with an iron stomach).