“When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he 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 is published, it will ruin lives–so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…”
If I were to sum up my reaction to J.K. Rowling’s first novel as Robert Galbraith in one sentence, it would go something like: “the mystery is simple, but the characters and how the author writes them make the book an enjoyable read.”
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was expecting a more elaborate mystery in the follow-up novel. But I didn’t want it to be at the expense of the characters we grew to love in the first novel.
Strike and Robin made a great partnership in The Cuckoo’s Calling. But the same cannot be said for The Silkworm because author Rowling decided to put an obstacle between them that readers are not privy to until halfway through the novel. And that’s when their partnership reboots to where it was at the end of the first novel.
Until you get to that point, you have to struggle through a number of chapters where it’s just Strike trying to make sense of things–and Robin being relegated to just a secretary. A set-up that doesn’t work for the budding detective. And it doesn’t work for me, as a reader, too.
This is not to say The Silkworm is bad. If we were to rate it by Harry Potter books, this would rank between Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince. It is a good enough book, but it’s not going to be a favorite.
Heck, the mystery itself is a lot like the aforementioned Harry Potter books. In which the author has already given the main clue that would unravel the story from the get go. And it’s up to the readers to catch up on the supporting clues before the grand reveal in the end.
Unlike Harry Potter though, or the first Cormoran Strike novel, this installment is devoid of characters you would want to root for. Cormoran is at his hard-headed best, and Robin is mostly in a snitch throughout the novel. And this saddens me because their non-romantic relationship in the first novel was what made me want to pick up a second book.
I’ll still be picking up a third book, I’m sure. I just hope that, with the Cormoran-Robin relationship back to what it was at the end of the first novel, their characters would be growing forward and not going back to what it was when they first met.