Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Silkworm

Posted by nliakos on January 2, 2016

by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) (Mulholland Books / Little, Brown and Co. 2014; ISBN 978-0-316-20687-7)

This is the second murder mystery featuring Cormoran Strike, private detective; I have not read the first one. I like murder mysteries and have read many; I count those of P. D. James and Ellis Peters among my favorites. Patricia Cornwell is too grisly for my taste, and this one by the author of Harry Potter is pretty grisly. Grisly, but not violent in the sense that Dick Francis’ novels are violent, where the protagonist always finds himself in near-fatal, extremely painful circumstances which he must endure in order to prevail. No, in The Silkworm, Cormoran Strike is never really in danger, and the most pain he suffers is when his prosthetic lower leg rubs his swollen stump. This is undoubtedly very painful, but not scary.

Anyway, Strike is a nice guy (like Francis’ protagonists, very likable), and his assistant Robin Ellacott is a nice person, in contrast to the majority of the characters in the novel. They are all part of the world of publishing: authors, editors, agents, publishers, and associated staff. In keeping with this theme, each chapter begins with a quotation from a 16th or 17th century British author, such as Ben Jonson, Thomas Kyd, John Webster, John Lyly, William Shakespeare and others. I wondered how the author selected them. Other than to show off her erudition, I don’t think they were necessary. I wonder if many readers actually notice them.

The book was long, about 450 pages. About 3/4 of the way through, it occurred to me that I was wasting my time. This is not to say the book didn’t hold my attention. It’s what I would classify as a “beach read”–literary fluff. There are so many more worthy things to read out there, including all seven Harry Potter booksI felt the same way about Rowling’s first adult novel. It was okay, even good, but not memorable in the way the Harry Potter books are. I hope that Rowling will keep writing until she finds that magical combination of character and plot that made Harry Potter so special.

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