Today I’m reviewing The Silkworm, the second book about private detective Cormoran Strike.
Let me start by saying that this book is really gay. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. Like the first novel, this follows private detective Cormoran Strike as he solves cases in London with his bad-ass assistant Robin. One day, a rather strange woman shows up and tells him that her husband, author Owen Quine, is missing. She doesn’t want to contact the police because they never take her seriously – her husband loves drama and likes to disappear every once in a while. So the case starts off as a simple, almost pathetic search for a pretentious writer – and ends in a gruesome murder investigation.
So, you’re probably wondering why this book is so gay. The missing writer loves playing with gender and sexuality in his novels, and everyone around him seems to be surrounded by rumours concerning their sexuality. This positively surprised me, because I didn’t think J. K. Rowling (the real person behind the name Robert Galbraith) would write a book like this – one that is extremely violent and quite sexual. I think she did a really good job; writing such a gruesome story and including so much play with gender and sexuality could go very wrong and potentially be offensive, but she handled it quite nicely. There is even a transgender character, who I think was portrayed alright (not the best representation in the world, but not terrible either).
The characters in this book are fantastic, and prove once more how talented J. K. Rowling is with subtle traits and character development. We get to see a lot of different people, who in one way or another work in the publishing industry, and as a reader you suspect all of them to be the murderer. They keep being suspicious, but you never know if their strange behaviour has anything to do with the case or with something completely different. We find out about the lives of these people throughout the novel, and my favourite thing about it is the unreliable information we get – one character might say something about someone, and then another one says something completely different, so it’s never quite clear what the truth is. You really have to pay attention to the little things, the small clues that are hidden in every conversation.
My favourite characters will always be Cormoran and Robin. Strike is like the real-life detective version of Mad-Eye Moody – he’s grumpy, he lost his leg, he’s tall … it’s all there. And of course Robin is just wonderful. She’s honestly the perfect female lead, with her own problems and her own thoughts, much more than just a side-kick. There’s nothing that bothers me as much as the typical female-assistant character who’s only there to help the guy (I’m looking at you, Dan Brown). J. K. Rowling does a fantastic job with Robin, making her an incredibly likable and memorable character.
The only thing that bothered me a bit is that I got confused over three of the minor characters: Daniel Chard, Christian Fisher and Michael Fancourt. They’re all middle-aged white guys who work with books, and I kept forgetting who was who. Michael Fancourt does stand out later, and it’s now perfectly clear to me who he is, and Daniel Chard also gets his own personality. But I’m still confused about Christian Fisher – I have no idea whatsoever who that guy is. Maybe I just missed something, but I can’t even remember why he was in the book in the first place.
With crime novels I always try to guess who did it, and I never get it right. I think what makes a book like this great is when you have no idea who the culprit is but then manage to see all the hidden clues when you re-read it. I can now definitely see how the murderer was presented to the reader from the start, with lots of subtle hints. The first book in this series is great, but with this one J. K. Rowling really proved that she’s a talented and imaginative writer beyond children’s books and fantasy. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series.
‘Till next time and happy reading!