I’ve just finished the second book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, aka J. K. Rowling. I read the first book a few weeks ago, and reviewed it here. And I almost immediately wanted to dive into the second book. They can be read completely separately and you don’t need to read both to understand the major storylines. Some background storylines are pulled through from the first to the second book, but they are lightly re-explained, so even without reading the book, you get the gist of it.
“The whole world’s writing novels, but nobody’s reading them.”
Anyway, time for the plot of The Silkworm! There’s no easy way to explain this complex and well-crafted story completely, so I’ll try to set it up. Cormoran gets called up by a woman whose husband has gone missing. The husband is novelist Owen Quine, who writes weird dark and sexual fiction (judging by the plot summaries we get to read). Her husband had been working on a new book and left in a huff as he tended to do regularly. However, it had been almost two weeks and he should have gotten back already. So she decides to hire the private detective to find her husband.
“Do the job and do it well.”
As Strike starts investigating, he realizes there is a lot more going on than just a missing person’s case. That is later on confirmed when he eventually finds the author, dead. Killed in a terribly gruesome way. The exact same way as he killed off his main character in his latest book. That book is actually a big focus of the case. Owen Quine made fun of a lot of people in it, implying the meanest and cruelest things and exposing secrets. A lot of people seem to have motive to want him dead. At first, Cormoran gets pulled in by the police to help, but they gradually start working against each other since the police are eager to arrest Quine’s wife for the murder. Not only is Cormoran convinced she didn’t do it, she is also the person who hired him to find out what happened so he is eager to protect his client and prove her innocence. Together with his trusty assistant/partner Robin, he manages to scrounge up a manuscript of the book, interview all of the parties involved and figure out who did it.
“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.”
I’m not going to go into more detail because frankly, I wouldn’t know how to delve into the story deeper without explaining the entire plot. And I don’t want to ruin your reading pleasure. It’s really a great book! If you liked the first one, I think this one is even better. Not only did I feel like the story pulled me in earlier, we also get a lot more juicy details about Cormoran and Robin’s private lives. I loved those details in the first book and here we can see what’s happening next. I really appreciate those light, overarching storylines. They add a little more flavour and detail to the series. But like I said earlier, not in detriment to both books still being separate stories. You don’t need to read both to understand what’s going on, even in the overarching storylines. And then again, the plot of the first book isn’t completely re-explained just to be able to understand the personal storylines in the second book. Just the right amount of cross-referencing.
“Strike had not been able to guard against warm feelings for Robin, who had stuck by him when he was at his lowest ebb and helped him turn his fortunes around; nor, having normal eyesight, could he escape the fact that she was a very good-looking woman.”
Now I have to admit, a big part of my liking this book was because it is set in the book industry. The main character, writer Owen Quine is quite an awful human being and writes horrible stuff. But I do love the peek into the publishing world. Agents, publishers, promoters, other writers, writing communities, fans, … Loved that! So if you’re an aspiring writer or an avid reader, this is sure to add an interesting facet to the book!