Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the number-one international best seller The Cuckoo's Calling.
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives - meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...
A compulsively listenable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.
©2014 Robert Galbraith (P)2014 Hachette Digital
"Combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime... A stellar debut." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"Plenty of twists... Totally engrossing... Galbraith's take on contemporary celebrity obsession makes for a grand beach read." (Library Journal, starred review [Mystery Debut of the Month])
"A remarkably assured debut. Robert Galbraith's portrayal of celebrity-obsessed modern London is at once beautifully written and utterly engrossing, his characters so real you could eat dinner with them, his ever-coiling plot guaranteed to keep you up past your bedtime. I couldn't put it down." (Owen Laukkanen, author of The Professionals)
contemplator of typography, mixology, and archivism
Even as it goes through the motions of standard detective fiction, this second Cormoran Strike novel admirably expands upon the well-rounded central characters established in The Cuckoo's Calling. As a former soldier and a natural detective, Strike lends himself to comparison with Lee Child's Jack Reacher, but where Reacher is personalized with a few token interests (notably coffee and mathematics), Strike is painted with softer strokes. He's introverted, yes, but his contact list defies the easy-to-apply label 'loner'. He is vexed by his family, but he embraces them with more than a mere sense of duty. He feels the desire to have a couple pints with lunch, but he recognizes the formation of bad habits and avoids them with some effort.
His receptionist-turned-protégée Robin proves to be equally well-rounded, particularly with respect to her fiancée. In a clumsier novel, her engagement to a side character would be nothing more than a burden for Robin to shed in the name of character growth. In Ms Rowling's nuanced world, however, the relationship is a genuine reflection of Robin's increasing confidence, and it bends and adjusts to her development with impressive realism. Whether or not the relationship will or should survive is far from a given.
Yes, the plot is fine too—it'll scratch the itch for those that crave a mystery to solve and concludes with reasonable coherence—but mystery plots are a dime a dozen. Characters like Cormoran and Robin are not.
Robert Glenister is well suited to this series, managing to narrate with both a seriousness and a lightness that matches Ms Rowling's remarkably well-balanced voice.
I am a voracious reader (average about 4-5 Audible books a week, in addition to those I "eyeball".) I have been hooked on recorded books since the time of cassettes/CDs and was thrilled when I became an Audible member in 2007. I find reader reviews good guides to spending my credits, so have finally decided to write a few (although, I would rather be reading!)
I started this book the day before a business trip to Florida and found it hard to put down outside of business hours. I was so happy to have this well-crafted mystery to help the miles melt beneath my wheels; otherwise the hours I spent on the road wouldn't have been so pleasant (although, I learned one needs cruise control with such an involving tome, otherwise the speedometer frequently tips 80.)
"The Silkworm" (Rowling's 2nd mystery under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith), continues with the character development begun in "Cuckoo's Calling" of Cormoran Strike (war hero, illegitimate son of a rock star and struggling PI with one prosthetic leg, courtesy of the Afghan theater) and Robin, Cormoran's temp secretary turned Girl Friday/Dr. Watson.
I love that Galbraith/Rowling makes Cormoran a bit misanthropic and surly and not some unrealistic, noble hero. His imperfections make him all the more likable.
And the icing on the cake -- a twisty mystery with multiple plot arcs, replete with engaging characters.
Rowling proved to the world that she can write YA fantasy -- well, she has proven to me she can write mysteries irrespective of which name appears on the cover.
And the narrator, Robert Glenister -- PERFECTION! His range is incredible despite is deep voice, he manages not to make the women sound campy (like some male narrators do.) I plan to search for books narrated by him so I do not have to wait until the next Robert Galbraith novel appears.
The worst part is I have started and stopped several books since I finished "The Silkworm" -- it is a tough act to follow.
In this second novel, Ms. Rowling sets her admirable and dogged detective loose into the cutthroat world of publishing. Cormoran Strike, aptly named after the Cornish giant of “beanstalk fame”, embodies the best traits of the archetypical detective: relentless, curious, and practical - without ever slipping into the dangerous territory of the stereotype. As a retired solider, amputee and keen observer of human nature, Cormoran Strike is a refreshing addition to an old and familiar genre.
The story begins a few months after the conclusion of the infamous Lula Landry murder, when a taciturn Leonora Quine arrives at Strike’s office demanding he find her vanished husband. Despite no reasonable assurance of payment, Strike takes her case (it is after all, an aberration among a workload of philandering spouses). Along with his assistant/protégée Robin Ellacott, Strike cuts a wide, weary swath through frigid London streets in pursuit of the missing author Owen Quine and answers to a bizarre and brutal mystery.
Rowling is a master of observation. Among references to Jacobean horror stories and nested narratives, she builds characters that are at once fantastical and unflinchingly revealed. From the raspy voiced, domineering book agent to the closeted and alcoholic publishers, from the self-pitying self-published to gratingly solipsistic established authors - she paints her cast in vivid colors and none is spared from Rowling’s incisive prose.
The mystery unfolds in a manner reminiscent of old fashion detective stories - Strike never actually whips out a hand lens, but it’s a close call. He and Ellacott take to the streets to interview suspects, dig for clues, turn up red herrings and into dead ends, until finally bringing the audience in for an eminently satisfying conclusion.
It seems that Ms. Rowling has seven books planned for the series (her lucky number perhaps?) and I for one am stoked. Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are unlikely partners and deeply sympathetic characters. I have no doubt that they will continue to delight audiences for years to come.
When I look back on the Harry Potter books it seems obvious to me now that Rowling (Galbraith) would move into mystery writing. The Potter books were all, at their heart, mystery novels.
This 2nd installment of the Cormoran Strike mystery series is even better than the first (which I also ranked as 5stars). The recurring characters continue to develop and become more complex and the scenes/imagery are rich and easy to become immersed in. I found this book difficult to put down.
I think that Galbraith (Rowling) is a great writer. Her characters come to life and in that way she reminds me of Charles Dickens.
So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
For me, one of the joys of a sequel, especially when it has been announced that there will be at least one other to follow, is the comfort I develop with the characters as they bloom. From their humble beginnings in Cuckoo's Calling, Cormoran Strike and his Watson-esque side-kick Robin Ellacot felt like people I wanted to spend more time with. Knowing Robert Galbraith's talent for character development (consistently captivating us through 7 volumes penned under Galbraith's nom de plume of J.K. Rowling), continuing on from Cuckoo was a given which paid off. The duo is back on the case looking for novelist Owen Quine who has gone missing since writing a scathing quasi-fictional manuscript that paints his associates in the publishing world in the darkest tones possible. When his body is found, elaborately murdered in a ritualistic play that mirrors Quine's manuscript, his colleagues are all suspect.
Here Galbraith shows her/his wonderfully inventive mind creating the eccentric characters and names as colorful as the residents that populated the Potter series. She also pokes some good-spirited fun at the publishing world that she reigned over in her rise to a billion dollar author. Even as *Galbraith* JK's talent is distinct, and a pleasure to read. It flows effortlessly, carrying the reader along through a world Rowling always seem to thoroughly inhabit in all of her writings and incarnations. This style is her strength. The plot of Silkworm is interesting and holds your attention, but it is theatrical more than plausible, with a bit of over achieving on the part of the murderer. Still, it makes for fun reading, as good as any in this genre.
A few must reads: Mr. Mercedes, Narrows Gate, Cop Town, Bomb Proof, Wayfaring Stranger, The Son (Nesbo), Dept Q series...
Like it's predecessor, The Silkworm features a remarkable synergy between ts two main characters. It's a romp through the London literary world, and if Gailbreth is at all accurate, Hollywood has nothing on this group of talented misfits.
Like others, I flew through this one. You can't go wrong with Silkroom.
It's not an easy listen. Because of the detail and the vast amount of secondary characters there was quite a bit of rewinding and even some rereading of chapters for me. At one point I even used a crib sheet. It was well worth the extra effort. A smooth clever plot that I was glued to till the bitter end. I sincerely was clueless to the outcome till it was revealed. For me, this book was 17 and a half hours well spent.
Cormoran Strike is my kind of hero. The compassionate private investigator without a quirk or an ex-wife that uses every day technology to his advantage. Thankfully his supporting staff is an educated woman with normal issues. I enjoyed their chemistry in both books but, it's as if the author was much more comfortable with her principals this time around. I would love to visit and grow with this entourage for years to come.
To not rave over Robert Glenister's brilliant narration would be sinful. Pure perfection how he melted into the background yet enhanced the author's work. Each character was spot on but, his handling of Elizabeth Tassel elevated this from a read to a performance.
Keep bringing this dynamic duo!
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
N/A as I am visually impaired and cannot read in print.
The detective and his assistant. The way they play off each other is masterful and classic of the great duo sleuths throughout time. There is always that tease of a developing romantic interest.
Difficult to say. One would be the birthday dinner party Strike's sister gives him when he shows up with an unexpected date.
The drive when a near accident is averted ...`
I listened over the course of two days. It was riveting, but then I am a fan and loved the first book in this series.
The descriptive and atmospheric prose is wonderful. The portrayals of the diverse cast of characters rings true. If I had one negative to make, it would be that I skipped over the graphic descriptions of the murdered body. That was a bit too much for me.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
In "The Silkworm," J.K. Rowling, aka Robert Galbraith, proves that she can write and develop characters in adult detective fiction just as magically as she did in YA fiction where the characters themselves were surrounded by magic. She captivated us through a 7-book series in Harry Potter. Now she/he has created detective Cormoran Strike and Robin, his assistant/protege wannabe. In this second book both Cormoran and Robin grow and become stronger, more mature, and more comfortable with themselves.
Along with the exceptional character development, "Galbraith" provides the reader with lots of characters who are quirky, to say the least, and a great plot which had me keeping up but not able to foresee the twists and turns.
Robert Glenister takes the story and adds even more magic with his narration. He has settled into these characters and, despite a deep voice, he creates believable female voices. All in all, this was a wonderful listening experience. I can't wait for the next book in the series!
After so many reviews, there is no need to summarize the plot. The premise of the going to seed, damaged detective or cop has been done and done. But, in Cuckoo's Calling, it didn't feel old. Strike is intelligent, clever, persistant and extremely likeable. That story is well constructed, the plot develops without contrivance, the author's famous sense of artiface and affinity for the grotesque are evident in the characters whose stage is an acerbic take-down of the world of high fashion, music and the attendant paparazzi. In The Silkworm, the world of literary publishing gets it turn at being skewered by the author (who, I assume knows it very well by now), but not nearly as cleverly as in Cuckoo's Calling--this book is caustic, but without the wit. And though the damaged detective theme is overwrought in this one, the book holds up, with some exceptions, until about two-thirds through.
While there was some development in the relationship (professional) between Strike and Robin, his assistant, we learn almost nothing new about Cormoran Strike--and we want to. (We do get to know Robin better). This time the issue with his leg gets burdensome and contrived. Why doesn't he see someone about the fit? It makes no sense, as much as it interferes with every aspect of his life that matters to him. I'd also like to stop hearing so much descriptive hyperbole regarding Strike. We have been given enough actual facts about him by now to know that he is exactly 6'3", and overweight by precisely two stone. Which means at that height, he comes in at about 230--maybe less. That is not "massive", nor "huge". Are men over 6' really that rare in London? With all those rugby players? I don't think so. The author often implies that the fear and awe Strike evokes in others is about not just his size, but his face. Considering the number of women angling to get him into bed, none of that really rings true. The author is the one who makes his physical appearance an issue in both these books; so the inconsistencies matter. I'm being drawn word-pictures here, after all. Another issue: the cast of characters in this book are not nearly as fascinating as those in the first book. Finally, the gore of the murder and the sexual perversion of the novel within the novel doesn't feel like a good fit with the particular suspects in this investigation--making the ending feel somewhat abrupt and grafted on.
The book loses steam around the time our detective needs to start closing in on the evildoer. Instead of continuing our access to all the clues laboriously dug up by Strike and Robin as in the first book, the author suddenly and regrettably resorts to secret plotting between the two of them along with a couple of oh-so-handy relatives and friends, who just happen to be in the right profession or social standing to be of particular use to Strike's investigation...and, information starts to be withheld from us. The author has shown an ability to write a tight mystery without resorting to such devices, so this is disappointing.
I'm not yet ready to give up on this series--not at all--but I'd like more of the clarity and cleverness of writing/plot, and character development found in The Cuckoo's Calling. I'd like to see Strike move on from the emotional sinkhole of Charlotte. I'd like him to get his prosthesis fixed.
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