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The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike Novel) Hardcover – June 19, 2014
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"Strike shares a trait with many great fictional detectives: He is darn good company...The Silkworm is a very well-written, wonderfully entertaining take on the traditional British crime novel...Robert Galbraith may proudly join the ranks of English, Scottish and Irish crime writers such as Tana French, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, John Connolly, Kate Atkinson and Peter Robinson."―Harlan Coben, The New York Times Book Review
"Cormoran Strike is back, and so is his resourceful sidekick, Robin Ellacott, a gumshoe team that's on its way to becoming as celebrated for its mystery-solving skills as Nick and Nora Charles of "Thin Man" fame, and Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander (a.k.a. the girl with the dragon tattoo)."―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"The plot zings along...Swift and satisfying"―Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times
"'The last line of The Silkworm, which will lift the hearts of readers who have come to love its deeply sympathetic characters, offers the prospect of more of that joy both for her and for us."―Charles Finch, USA Today (3.5/4 stars)
"A compulsively entertaining yarn."―Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
"Robert Galbraith... has written a second absorbing whodunit starring detective Corcmoran Strike to follow last year's stealth hit, The Cuckoo's Calling.... Astutely observed, well-paced... The Silkworm thoroughly engages as a crime novel."―Sue Corbett, People
The Silkworm is fast-paced and entertaining... Strike is heroic without intending to be and has a great back story. He's the illegitimate son of a rock star whose half-siblings grew up in privilege... And he's brooding, but not annoyingly so. Strike has all kinds of potential. It'd be a crime not to keep up with him."―Sherryl Connelly, Daily News
"Why is "likable" the first word that comes to mind upon finishing The Silkworm? Surely, that has something to do with Rowling's palpable pleasure in her newly chosen genre (the jig may be up with her Robert Galbraith pseudonym, but the bloom is still on her homicidal rose) and even more to do with her detective hero, who, at the risk of offending, is the second husband of every author's dreams."―Louis Bayard, The Washington Post
"The story is enthralling, not only for its twists and turns, but for the fun of the teamwork.... [It's] a cast of characters who you'll want to meet again and again."―Ashley Ross, Time
"[The Silkworm is a] swift-paced, suspenseful mystery....Robert Galbraith has announced himself a fresh voice in mystery fiction: part hard-boiled, part satiric, part poignant, and part romantic."―Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy.
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This is always a dangerous endeavor, because if the book turns out to be less good than I hoped, I'm deeply disappointed.
As you can guess by the title of this review, quite the opposite occurred.
In my opinion, Galbraith's greatest strength is the ability to build believable, unique characters who are realistic and have distinct speaking styles. Well, that and stunningly good prose.
It isn't necessary to read The Cuckoo's Calling first, but I think it's a good idea. This book begins a few months after the last one left off, and the relationships have progressed accordingly. There aren't particular heroes or villains, just real people who are good and bad, kind and mean, ugly and pretty -- where none of those three things necessarily correspond to any of the others.
In any case, Strike and Robin are going about their normal business, with all the usual small misunderstandings and unexpected skills, etc. that go along with most working relationships. Then, when Strike is exhausted and not thinking clearly, he takes on a new client, a rather worn-looking middle-aged woman who wants him to find her husband and thinks it'll be a short, simple job, and she's sure someone else will pay his bill.
Ah hah. Sure that's how it's going to work.
And so our story kicks off.
Oh, I should add -- I am a professional editor and a very prolific reader. Of the dozens of new books I've read so far this year, this is the best.
By way of review I will only offer a couple of my observations:
* Great Britain has socialized medicine - Strike, go see a doctor about the pain in your leg.
* The average temperature in December is 38 degrees F. with 17 days of rain. Average means it often falls below this number to 32. It's winter. It snows. Often. Quit kvetching.
* Author loves the word Jacobean. Uses it often.
* The a pithy sayings meant to express an idea in a clever and amusing way that started each chapter didn't make a lick of sense.
* If protagonist has a "steel trap" memory why did he need his assistant to remind him of just about every appointment?
* The typewriter ribbon. Really? Did author go to the Murder Mystery School of Jessica Fletcher? Very Junior High School "Introduction to Journalism". And the laughable ending, a la Agatha Christie, let's gather all the suspects in one room and point out the culprit - NO!
* What's with the first wife? Why? What did that add to the story? Author must have reverted to her Pay-Per-Word novelist days.
This is an insignificant Book, sorry to all the Harry Potter fans out there (BTW - I really liked her Potter books). If you were to cut out all her highfalutin, two-dollar words no doubt garnered from a decent Thesaurus; do some pruning of the overabundance of words; present Strike as something other than a whiner you'd still have a second rate book worthy of nothing more than the bargain bin.
Strike takes the case and expects it to be an easy one. But as he investigates, it becomes more complicated. Quine has written a new novel, one in which he skewers many of the literary circle of England. He has a mistress who is sure he is leaving his wife and child to be with her, an agent who seems to despise him and a publishing house that would be more than glad to drop him. Every individual thinly disguised in the book would be glad to see him disappear for good. When Strike discovers Quine's body and realizes that he has been killed in a parody of the novel, the race is on to discover the murderer.
The reader also learns more about the personal lives of Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. Strike is a former soldier who has been left with an artificial leg and investigative skills from his time in the military. Huge and focused, he is considered without social skills yet has friends in every circle who would do anything for him. Robin, his assistant, is about to get married and starting to wonder if that is the right course for her, or if it would be more fulfilling to become an investigator herself. Together the two work through the lengthy suspect list to discover who killed Quine.
This is the second Comoran Strike book and it is equally as delightful as the first. In the worst-kept secret in the literary world, Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling, and she delivers the plotting and characterization that made her famous as an author. The reader finishes the book eager to read the next installment in the series. This book is recommended for mystery readers.