“We don’t love each other; we love the idea we have of each other. Very few humans understand this or can bear to contemplate it. They have blind faith in their own powers of creation. All love, ultimately, is self-love.”
― Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm
The Silkworm is the 2014 follow-up to “The Cuckoo’s Calling” the debut novel of Robert Galbraith, a pen-name for J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. The Silkworm continues the story of one-legged Private Detective Cormoran Strike and his secretary Robin Ellacott as they investigate the disappearance of novelist Owen Quine. When Quine’s body shows up, left in a grotesque and gothic scene reminiscent of his latest and unpublished manuscript, the investigation takes a dark turn. The novel follows the tradition of its predecessor in being a character driven story, and delves deeper into the relationships and pasts of its main characters.
What I Loved
This book continues to excel in all the same ways that “The Cuckoo’s Calling” did. The characters continue to engross, and the developments in both their professional and personal lives are some of the highest points in this book. This book went a long way towards solidifying Cormoran Strike as my favorite literary detective. He is an incredibly complex and well realized character, at times I felt like I truly knew him in the same way I know my oldest friends. Getting to see all aspects of his life really helps you to understand and sympathize with him as the story progresses.
Robin again shines in this book. She is hyper-competent as Strikes assistant, to the point where at this series could almost be retitled to include her name alongside Strike’s. While certain decisions she makes in her personal life continue to frustrate, it is always easy to understand her thoughts and motivations.
The plot hook in this book is intriguing, as at first the story begins not as a murder but as a missing person’s case. The back of the book reveals that Quine was killed, but the discovery of the body was nonetheless surprising and shocking given the brutal fashion in which he was killed.
What I Didn’t Love
Even though the premise of the mystery in this book holds promise, I found that in the long run it was forgettable. I finished this book a couple of months ago, and I honestly can’t recall many details beyond the identity of the killer. I think this is due in a large part to the book focusing so heavily on author and editor culture. This is clearly and understandably something close to Rowling’s heart, and while interesting to read, it failed to resonate with me at any meaningful level. The result is that I had to spend more time rereading this book for review than I did either of the other two books in the series.
Secondly, can we please just get rid of Robin’s fiancé Matthew? I understand that life in the real world is full of many different personalities, many of them unlikeable, but I legitimately have no use for thim. I don’t feel like he adds anything new to Robin’s character, and instead serves as a reason to rehash elements of her motivations that we are already aware of. I have never disliked a non-villainous character as much as I dislike Matthew.
Final Thoughts Below
Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #2)
- Characters consistently excellent
- Plot Hook is intriguing
- Author and Editor plots don't have mass appeal
- Plot is a little forgettable