In this second Cormoran Strike novel, Strike takes on a case to find a missing husband. Owen Quine is an eccentric two-bit author whose latest work was rejected right before he disappeared. His wife believes he’s gone off in a huff – something not unusual for Quine – until Strike discovers his decaying, mutilated body. Now, he has to unravel the clues left in the unpublished novel to find Quine’s killer before the police charge his wife with the murder.
I enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first Cormoran Strike novel, when I read it last year. It was not a novel I would have picked up on its own, being as I’m not really a mystery reader. I only picked it up after discovering that Galbraith was JK Rowling’s pen name. Because I enjoyed the first novel so much, however, I’m happy to say that I picked up The Silkworm for itself, and not for its author. This is exactly the right time of year (RIP!) to read a mystery, and a macabre mystery at that.
Honestly, I can’t say I enjoyed The Silkworm quite as much as its predecessor. The Cuckoo’s Calling wasn’t perfect – I remember being annoyed by the extra-long explanation of hows, whens and whys at the end of the book, for example – but I enjoyed the story and characters a lot. The Silkworm felt, for me, a bit stilted for the first half of the novel. There were a lot of conversations that didn’t quite feel real, particularly when Strike tried to subtly interrogate potential suspects and witnesses. I felt like the people he spoke to gave far more away than they would have in reality, particularly those in the police force. In addition, the sudden point of view shifts within the narrative (sometimes within a single paragraph) were jarring, and I often found myself trying to figure out whose thoughts/feelings were being explored.
The second half of the book picked up quickly, however. The interrogations became more natural, and I got used to the point of view switches (mostly). The case itself was fascinating, and I never had any idea who would end up being the killer. I loved the shark motif, particularly the way it circled back at the end. The various relationships in the book (romantic and otherwise) developed nicely, and left me looking forward to spending more time with these characters in the future. Also, I was impressed by the solid, straightforward way that transgendered issues were handled both in the text, and by the characters themselves. Lastly, there was no long expository explanation at the end of the book this time (yay!).
In the end, despite a rocky start for me, I really enjoyed the novel. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for further Strike novels.
Reread via audio in May 2017: Robert Glenister makes this book excellent. It no longer felt stilted, and all POV shifts sounded natural.