I’ve been in the mood for mysteries lately so it seemed like the perfect time to tackle The Silkworm, the second in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym used by J.K. Rowling). As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. Now that the main characters are pretty well established, the reader gets to see a little bit more of their backstories as a high profile case unfolds.
Picking up several months after Strike’s success with the Lula Landry case, he and his assistant, Robin, are busy with a string of new lucrative clients, allowing him to almost completely pay off the debts he owes. But as much as he appreciates the long list of wealthy, cheated-on lovers and spouses, the routine surveillance is getting old. Then Leonora Quine appears asking him to find her eccentric writer husband who has a knack for disappearing and showing up days later in a hotel with some woman. As Strike begins interviewing Quine’s publishing acquaintances, he learns that the writer’s latest book, Bombyx Mori, has caused an uproar and there are an increasing number of people Quine could be intentionally (or unsuccessfully) avoiding.
I didn’t know going in, but there was very little chance that I wouldn’t enjoy this book. So much of the case revolves around not just the publishing industry, but literature. The epigraphs are largely taken from sixteenth and seventeenth century revenge plays, many of which I had to read in one of my graduate classes and the revenge genre features heavily in the works of the few writer characters (and the case at hand, as it turns out). As a book nerd, this kind of case in a mystery novel is my ultimate weakness. I can’t wait to see what will form the basis Strike’s next case (and I’m already keeping my eyes peeled to see when the next will be released; I’ll definitely be pre-ordering it).
As mentioned earlier, there are deeper looks into the main characters of Strike and Robin and their employer/employee relationship continues to evolve as they struggle with miscommunication regarding just what Robin’s role is and what it should be. The frustrating back and forth as each misreads the opinions of the other are incredibly relatable and entertaining. It is remarkable to see how much Robin has grown since we were introduced to her back in The Cuckoo’s Calling. Her desire to avoid conflict, especially with those she loves, is still there, but where before she would frequently back down on things she was passionate about, she’s beginning to take a stand, particularly with her fiancé, Matthew. But her tougher attitude has done nothing to dull her compassion, something that makes her even more of an asset to Strike.
As with all good mysteries, there is enough for the reader to guess the truth, but not necessarily for it to be guessed with any true certainty until the action plays out on the page. I had my suspicions and hunches, but the clever complexity of the case’s solution and the novel’s resolution still held enough surprise to satisfy. There’s nothing worse when reading a mystery than having it figured out less than halfway in and see the characters struggle miserably through. But Rowling Galbraith and Strike keep just far enough ahead for the ride to be thoroughly enjoyable.