When Leonara Quine approaches private detective Cormoran Strike to find her husband, he is quite glad to take it up. He is fed up with running surveillance operations involving wealthy embezzlers and cheating couples. And Owen Quine’s disappearance doesn’t seem too complex to solve. After all, Mrs. Quine is sure he is sulking in some writer’s retreat and just needs Strike to get him back home. But as Strike digs further, it becomes apparent that there is something murky about this disappearance. None of his colleagues or friends seem to know where he is. And no one is particularly fond of him either. And everyone is worried about whether he will go ahead with his threat of releasing his next book, with or without a publisher. Because that book is vile, libellous and macabre work of erotic fiction with thinly veiled references to real people – authors, publishers and editors. When Quine is finally found – badly mutilated, disemboweled and very much dead, Strike has to find out which one of them took the phrase “Life imitating art” to a whole new level.
Halfway through the book, I realised that I have to not just pay attention to the book but also the book within the book authored by Owen Quine: Bombyx Mori (aka the silkworm’s scientific name) so that I don’t feel lost when the mystery starts unravelling. Not to mention all the timelines and what happened on which day (which is important to keep track of in any well-plotted murder mystery). I spoke about paying close attention to Bombyx Mori because that holds the key to the entire plot – its characters and how Quine chose to reference and depict all the real people through them.
And damnnnn , the plotting.. Rowling is soo good at his. (Okay, so before I proceed further, I will call the author by Rowling in the review, and not Galbraith, because that just feels weird. I will index this review under Galbraith though) I don’t remember the finer details of Cuckoo’s Calling, but I do remember feeling underwhelmed by the book overall, and found it difficult to erm…. adjust to the idea that JKR has proceeded to writing something non-HP .. (haven’t read Casual Vacancy) .. But this time around, I am more .. uh.. prepared. And Silkworm is definitely a lot more cleverer, intricate and rounded. Almost every character introduced is somehow used to make the mystery knottier, and this makes it so much fun to take guesses!! There are some comments and observations made on publishing, indie works, e-books and the less than flattering opinions female authors have to face about their writing skills and commitment. Considering the well-known story behind why “J.K Rowling” is the name which finally appeared on the book covers, it does seem like something she quipped based on personal experiences. And the reference to struggling writers self-publishing semi-pornographic and fantasy-erotica fiction did make me chuckle a bit.
The running arc about Strike’s famous father, the reflected fame, his narcissistic ex-flame and his army background continued in this book. But what took more space were his secretary and unofficial partner in surveillance Robin and her fiancée Matthew’s tiffs regarding her work with Strike. A considerable amount of pages were about Robin trying to change Matthew’s opinion about her boss and her future career plans. If you aren’t really interested in what happens with Robin and Matthew, it is a bit distracting from the main plot. However, I guess Rowling is setting this up as a long term background arc, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here. I hope it doesn’t take the clichéd route of Strike and Robin getting together romantically… but it does seem to be on the anvil sometime in the later books. And may I add that I have warmed up to Strike in this book. Well, okay, a li’l bit more than from Cuckoo’s Calling. I have found him a bit impersonal and inaccessible otherwise. But I guess it is a “thing” about detective fiction in general. You can’t spend too many pages fleshing out and spotlighting people’s feelings and background stories. If I do think about it, Rowling has done a good job balancing things out by giving Strike opportunity to muse and vent about things in his past, even if privately.
As I have said earlier in my blog, I do love reading good old-fashioned and no-frills PI mysteries. So I would definitely recommend Silkworm!!
So with this review, I end my first year in blogging.. (technically less than six months though J ) .. I have had a wonderful time reading and writing about books, and discovered a whole new world of online world of book blogging and learnt quite a few “blogging lessons” along the way..
Looking forward to more reading and blogging next year. Wish you all an amazing 2016!!