I recently got to get away from my real life and hide out at my in-laws’ place with a stack of books. The weather was iffy – sometimes it was sunny and I basked in it in all my SPF60 glory, other times it was raining and I hid on the covered porch. But we all know that weather doesn’t really matter when you’re reading.
Last week, Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling released his second book: The Silkworm. This follow up to The Cuckoo’s Calling, last year’s publishing surprise, reunites us with private detective Cormoran Strike and his insanely efficient and capable assistant Robin, as they try and figure out what happened to eccentric writer Owen Quine who has been gone for 10 days. His wife, Leonora, doesn’t want to involve the police because last time she did that and he was just with his girlfriend and he was really upset.
Here’s what we know in the beginning: Owen Quine’s been missing for 10 days after having a public row with his agent, Elizabeth, in a crowded fancy restaurant about his new manuscript. Elizabeth was sick when she skimmed it and had sent it out to various publishers to get Owen to leave her alone while she was recovering. It’s only when her assistant calls and asks her if she’s read the whole thing that she goes back and sees that it’s basically a thinly veiled, insanely slanderous attack on several prominent members of their community.
And so the witch hunt begins.
Strike isn’t having the same pecuniary difficulties that plagued him in The Cuckoo’s Calling, mainly because of all the publicity he got from solving that case. But we get to know him better as a person, see the relationship between him and Robin take shape, find out more about his past in Afghanistan and watch him struggle with his physical limitations more than we did in the other book.
This book is also way more gruesome than the first one. The whole book is ice and sleet and slush and misery. Leonora isn’t acting the way the wife of a missing author should; Quine’s contemporaries are far more interested in speaking with Strike than people involved in an investigation normally are; and Robin’s relationship with her fiance is hanging on by a thread.
I adore JK Rowling in all forms but I think as Robert Galbraith she might have finally found her new voice. It seems like she finally feels free to just write what she wants, without expectations or comparisons. Cormoran Strike is an excellent character and I love love love reading his stories.