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.
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.
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.
Say something about yourself!
The eagerness to anoint this series as brilliant is fascinating to me. Clearly Rowling, writing as Galbraith, is a well-schooled, highly intelligent person. Even so, the story is boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. Galbraith's (Rowling's) extraordinary imagination is tuned toward shock for shock's sake. Galbraith appears to want to make a mark in writing for an adult market through vulgarity, rather than through creative and inviting story-telling. I do like both Strike and Robin as characters. Indeed, all of the characters of The Silkworm are well-developed and interesting. There are no layers to the story, however. As readers, we are introduced to the main character and subsequently shocked by his selfish depravity, all through multiple self-indulgent perspectives. The book is 40+ chapters of, "Are we there yet?" J.K. Rowling is one of my favorite authors. Robert Gailbraith is not fit to shine Rowling's Louboutins. This is not a matter of inability to accept Rowling's new direction. It is, instead, disappointment with the execution of finely honed imagination. Hopefully, with the next book, the two individual authors will begin to mesh, and Rowling will stop feeling the need to turn Galbraith into some kind of bottom-feeding, shock-fest author whose only claim to fame is that he inhabits the lowest depths of Rowling's mind space.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
I don't know why, but I kept listening over and over to various passages as my attention kept wandering. The subject matter was disturbing, but that aside, I felt I just couldn't stay glued to this book. Too bad.. it sounded great from the description.
What a disappointment. This very long book was painful to get through. There are no likeable characters beyond Strike and Robin, and they weren't particularly appealing in this book. There's very little action other than Strike re-injuring himself time and again, and the bulk of the book is Strike talking to one weird book person after another. Dark and depressing--not the book to hear when stuck in rush-hour traffic! Glenister's gruff voicing for Strike may make him less appealing than Rowling had in mind; as it is, I can't believe Robin has hung in there this long. What else. . .why doesn't Strike have an income from the military? Surely he was medically retired and receives roughly half-pay plus all sorts of benefits and allowances? But I digress. I've been a big fan of Rowling's writing but this book was no pleasure to read. I bought it as soon as it was available--I won't rush to buy her next.
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.
The story is compelling enough, the performance is excellent, characters are well developed, but why this author feels he had to add a great deal of unnecessary, truly disgusting gore to a good story is beyond me. It's as if he is competing to dream up the goriest most disgusting murder details from 1000 other stories in a contest for the most shock and disgust value. A good detective story can stand nicely on its own without the juvenile shock value overkill, not to mention bad language. So sorry but this one is a bit over the top for my taste.
Robert Glenister is excellent though and it would be a pleasure to hear him perform other books...I plan to find something else more worthy of his talents to listen to.
The reader is very entertaining, with perfect pitch -except when quoting Latin verses- but Mr.Galbraith is too cautious with her story. She sticks to writing about what she knows, taking few risks, peppering the tale with a fair amount of predictable red herrings, chastising the literary world, and revealing nothing new in the process.
Contrived is the word, I think. I was hoping for more thrills.
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