Yep, another JKR mystery novel, written under the nom de plume of Robert Galbraith. Her main character, Cormoran Strike, continues his work as a private detective around London. Though his usual cases involve the shady sides of the capital, he’s gained a bit of fame since the last book, following the Lulu Landry case. He also continues to work with Robin, his temporary-turned-permanent assistant, who is smart and very eager to learn about the business.
The Silkworm takes Strike and Robin into the publishing industry for a case, which is very interesting to me. And obviously it’s an industry of which JKR has a unique (not insider, not totally outsider) viewpoint.
Strike is approached by a woman whose unfaithful, egotistical, mediocre husband is missing. He’s just submitted his newest novel, and Strike soon learns that this novel contains enough that is slanderous and hideous to make almost all of his friends and associates want to hurt or kill him. It’s a long list of suspects.
And she takes us all through the publishing industry. From the old-school agents with smoker’s cough and very little profits, up to the slick publishing houses in Soho. Owen Quine, the missing man, showed promise early on, but hasn’t impressed anyone in the industry for a while. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Fancourt is a literary darling, akin to Will Self or Salman Rushdie. He is egotistical and pompous, as you might expect.
JKR’s tour of the publishing industry is not particularly flattering, but probably fairly accurate. Cormoran’s search for the killer (yeah, it turns into a murder investigation) is hindered by the fact that almost everyone seems to have a reason to have killed him. He was a pretty shit person, and nearly everyone hated him.
These books are not challenging to read, but they are fun. JKR has a good mix of the methodical approach to solving a mystery, and a leap of intuition that takes Strike to the solution. I like Strike and Robin, though I do find myself comparing them to Harry Potter characters. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same amount of affection for anyone in these books as I do for even minor characters in Harry Potter. But that’s true for almost every book that’s not Harry Potter.
My only real complaint about these books is that there were a few too many characters. I had a hard time keeping everyone straight, particularly when most of them are involved in the same industry. But, on the other hand, we learned more about Robin and Cormoran, and I continue to like them both and want to learn more about them. On the other hand, I really hope that they don’t end up together.
My other complaint isn’t a real complaint, just a …preference. I’d rather she as writing more in the Harry Potter universe. I like reading these books; I liked this one even more than the last one. But…it’s not Harry Potter. I believe I said the same thing when I reviewed The Cuckoo’s Calling. But if you’re looking for a light and quick read, this is a much better choice than Dan Brown or …whoever else people read when they want quick stuff.