The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Series #2)

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Series #2)

4.1 244
by Robert Galbraith, J. K. Rowling

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Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and

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Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Galbraith's second novel, The Silkworm, arrives free of the sales-boosting intrigue that accompanied its predecessor, The Cuckoo's Calling. (Never mind that the mystery surrounding the author's identity was arguably more intriguing than the actual plot.) This time around, we all know that Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of J. K. Rowling. We also know who we are likely to meet in the second installment of Galbraith's Cormoran Strike series: the stoical hero, his loyal sidekick, assorted dull-witted cops, weird villains and at least one corpse. There is a scummy journalist too who provides the novel's delicious opening line. ''Someone bloody famous,' said the hoarse voice on the end of the line, 'better've died, Strike.' '' Not yet. In one of the novel's many sub-plots, Strike is simply peddling to the tabloid reporter a document that will ruin a crooked aristocrat.

Scandalmonger seems a tawdry occupation for Strike, a celebrity since he solved the Lula Landry case in The Cuckoo's Calling. But money is still tight and Strike is still a wounded man, in body and soul. Having lost a leg fighting in Afghanistan and his heart to the exquisite but self-destructive Charlotte Campbell (thankfully sidelined here), the hulking detective retains his grimy office on Denmark Street, his invaluable assistant, Robin, and his principles. ''Do the job and do it well'' is Strike's inflexible code. And Galbraith's novel too is dutiful in an oddly old-fashioned way. From the predawn opening in London's Smithfield Market, through showdowns and stakeouts, to the novel's melodramatic denouement on a city rooftop, stock scenes reminiscent of any number of murder mysteries are re-staged with mixed results.

Here is Strike, for example, irresistibly drawn to the client most likely to cause him trouble and lose him money. ''What exactly is it you were wanting me to do for you, Mrs. Quine,'' he asked the shabby woman on the sofa. ''Well, it's my husband?'' Owen Quine may be missing or he may simply have deserted his wife and daughter. ''She almost invited Strike to join her husband in laughing at her, proud, as mother sometimes pretend to be, of their child's insolence,'' Strike observes in one of the novel's best scenes.

Galbraith is most deft when capturing the speech and mannerisms of nondescript characters — Leonora Quine, for example, or the alcoholic Jerry Waldegrave, a pathetic fixture in the cutthroat world of agents, publishers and celebrity authors that Strike quickly penetrates. Here the detective learns that Quine's unpublished novel, Bombyx Mori (the Latin name for the silkworm) may hold vital clues to his disappearance. ''A perverse Pilgrim's Progress,'' as Quine's agent describes it, ''set in a folkloric no-man's-land?,'' the manuscript is crammed with outlandish sexual acts performed by gender-shifting loonies who are, in fact, grotesque caricatures of Quine's intimates and literary rivals. We are spared lengthy extracts.

Life trumps art, however, when Strike stumbles on Quine's disemboweled body, displayed as a centerpiece for what looks like a psychopath's picnic, complete with place settings. ''Strike felt that he stood retching in a temple, witness to sacrificial slaughter?.'' The reader, however, may be more bewildered than shocked by a ''display of sadistic showmanship'' that ruptures the humdrum atmosphere that Galbraith has artfully created. The novel's monochrome cityscape becomes suddenly garish and its details — of Leonora's threadbare existence, Strike's daily battle with his prosthetic leg, even Robin's silly rows with her ''heart- stoppingly handsome'' fiancé — seem to fade in the harsh light.

Disruption is the point, of course, in any crime novel. But Galbraith fails to inject this mayhem with any palpable dread or menace. A psychological portrait of the killer might have tethered the unevenly paced plot and darkened the mood, but a perfunctory version of this arrives too late, in an overwrought finale that reads like a parody of Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. ''The large, mannish hands had curled into claws?. 'You're insane,' she whispered, with a forced smile beneath the shark eyes, her big yellow teeth glinting.''

Goodness. Could the monster be female, ugly and sexually frustrated? We should hardly be surprised. Shifting gender identity may be a Galbraith/Rowling preoccupation — along with disguised authorship and celebrity ... but the women orbiting around the towering, heroic Cormoran Strike are easily categorized as troubled beauties or spiteful predators, good sports or twisted spinsters. ''Tea?'' curvy, golden-haired Robin asks when it's all over, ''She knew how he liked it: the color of creosote.'' Battered and heartbroken Strike may be, but should he stagger into action again he will doubtless still prefer his cuppa strong, his laddish friends steadfast and his women as adoring or dangerous as ever.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Cormoran Strike Series, #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

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The Silkworm 4.1 out of 5 based on 6 ratings. 244 reviews.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
A Bloody Good Read. 'Cuckoo's Calling' is a terrific book--which really needs to be read to thoroughly enjoy this follow up. However, I find 'Silkworm' improving upon the previous novel in several ways. This is a leaner, meaner, faster, and more carefully edited read than the first Strike book. 'Cuckoo' did, at times, drag with unnecessary repetition of events and too much pondering of circumstances. This does not. It starts off at a gallop and stays there until a rather breathtaking finish. Once again, there is a rather labyrinth plot and cast of characters--you have to give it awhile to keep everyone and everything straight--but it is absolutely worth the ride. Strike continues to be a compelling main character whose layers promise to be further revealed in future books--and his sidekick, Robin, is a delight just as she was in the first book. But here--we find out a lot more about her; she grows as a character and it is refreshing to see her start reconsidering and re-evaluating her choices and earlier desires. The last interaction between Robin and Strike in this book is especially charming. One note of caution: the crime in this is far bloodier and gorier than in the previous novel. There are graphic descriptions of violence here--and for the especially squeamish--well, be forewarned. And the conclusion of the mystery may take a second read to pull it all together. But overall, a wonderful addition from Rowling (and yes, once again, there are some fun shout outs to the world of Potter)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. The plot kept me hooked from start to finish. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
an EXCELLENT  follow up. Could not put it down. Intricate plot, interesting band of characters and a wonderful set up for a burgeoning partnership 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is superior to A Cuckoo's Calling, but you really need to read the earlier book to fully appreciate The Silkworm. What sparkles in both books are the two main characters, Cormoran and his assistant Robin. To fully appreciate the interplay between the two, you need to start with the earlier book. While the earlier book was fairly good (while not outstanding, still worth reading), there were times it dragged somewhat. With The Silkworm, Rowling has put together the full package: good writing featuring some excellent descriptive passages, a mystery that befuddles, interesting interplay between Cormoran and Robin, and a final solution to the mystery that both surprises and ties together the entire novel. Very satisfying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very Compelling Plot.
Charles_Wood More than 1 year ago
Again JK Rowling has done what she does best. A solid bestseller if there ever was one. The plot was great and the ending a real surprise.
clahain1 More than 1 year ago
In this second of Galbraith's Cormoran Strike books, the moody London detective is hired by the wife of an eccentric novelist known for theatrics and periodic disappearances. Owen Quine has vanished yet again, this time with his latest manuscript, a novel which has more than one member of London's publishing community outraged and threatening legal action. Cormoran isn't sure why he's bothering with the case since the guy is likely just hiding out with another woman and, anyway, the wife can't pay his bill. But Cormoran does take the case and soon discovers that his "missing person" is a murder victim.  This book is not for the squeamish. The murder of Owen Quine is vicious and messy, and Galbraith spares us none of the gory details. Balancing this violence is a cast of quirky, eccentric characters, each  with enough back story to fill his or her own novel. There are few if any true innocents in THE SILKWORM. At the same time, the author manages to allow even the most unlikable of his creations to reveal moments of pathos and humanity. Galbraith's London, in the grips of winter, is yet another strong character, hard and grimy, holding ugly secrets behind the doors of even its most esteemed addresses.  Over the course of the investigation, Galbraith continues to build the awkward, often uneasy relationship between Cormoran and Robin, his receptionist/apprentice/conscience started in THE CUCKOO'S CALLING. Cormoran sublimates his confused feelings for Robin in his pathological dedication to his  work--riling police officials and nearly everyone else he comes into contact with. For her part, Robin attempts to plan her wedding to a man she doesn't seem to like very much, while yearning to know what  her true role is in Cormoran's world, which holds a macabre fascination for her. Rather than running from the darkness and violence, she campaigns to get even more involved with it. We also get hints that, like Cormoran, she Robin a past that weighs on her.  One technical hiccup mars a generally excellent reading experience. The dialog. Galbraith can be miserly with speaker tags. And sometimes the tags are misleading, especially when the speeches extend, as they often do in this book, into multiple paragraphs. In spite of the periodic speaker confusion, THE SILKWORM is an enthralling read that left me even more addicted to the Cormoran Strike series, where singular characters and twisting plots transform murder into an immersion experience.
avidseniorreader01 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Galbraith's first book. The Silkworm, not so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Galbraith, AKA Rowling, has mastered this genre with a fascinating and fully human character, Cormoran Strike. I enjoyed her first book and eagerly anticipated this second, and was not disappointed. Strike promises to be a lasting detective character who will take his place among the greats, i.e., Sam Spade, Kurt Wallander and of course, Sherlock Holmes. Robin Ellacott, whom we met in the first book, is rapidly transcending her position as Strike's secretary to become his "Dr. Watson" despite fierce opposition from her fiance. Galbraith's Strike, an amputee, hobbles painfully through a British setting that comes to life with Rowling's sparing but vivid exposition. Though a loner, Strike is nonetheless surrounded by interesting and offbeat characters from the London literary scene, and who should know more about that than J. K. Rowling. Without getting into the plot details, it should be said that this literary mystery is intriguing and sure to hold your interest to the last line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific detective novel, with appealing protagonist, fascinating characters, strong plot, and excellent writing. A brilliant portrayal of the world of publishing, literary agents, and writers, with all their rivalries and neuroses on display. What more can one ask?
chm816 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Cuckoo's Calling but this book was horrible in comparison. Love the characters but the language and disgusting detailed descriptions were unnecessary. At times, I found myself wondering what kind of sick mind could orchestrate this kind of subject matter. Between being grossed out and a wordy tedious read, I contemplated not finishing. Because I'm now "caught up" in the characters, I would read follow-ups, but surely she can write a more enjoyable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot is convoluted and confusing, if not confused. The main character inflicts so much harm on myself, that I cannot be sympathetic. If the book were written by anyone else, it would sink to the bottom of the sales charts where it deserves. Rowling return to your magic!
Ravenclaw226 More than 1 year ago
Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) keeps getting better and better! Finished "Silkworm" in less than 2 days as I could not put it down! Just like the first novel in this series "Cuckoo's Calling" Rowling delivers a truly compelling mystery with very unexpected plot twists as the mystery starts to come to a close. I will make this simple, READ THIS BOOK! Mystery lovers, Rowling lovers, or those looking for the "next big thing" get your hands on this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read over 100 pages waiting for anything to happen. It was nothing but gross filth. I gave up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Strike, but have to wade through too much tedious info to get to the story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than the first! That said, you really have to pay attention in the beginning or you will have to go back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J.K. Rowling is truly the Queen of Literature
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the first one but this one is a total snoozefest. I could not even bring myself to finish it. I liked the characters in the first book but in this one they never do anything and if they do it just makes them unlikable. The author could have really used a good editor to trim this down into an engaging story. ?
Willis1052 More than 1 year ago
I read for the journey into the story and this series has me hooked. (She) writes in a manner that is not cumbersome with pages and pages of unnecessary descriptive. I keeps you wondering where it goes next and takes you there. I just had to read "one more chapter" every time I needed to stop reading. Thoroughly enjoyed both books and can't wait for #3.
Shilo2010 More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome read! Love the detective - Strike. J.K.Rowlings is so good with building characters. I am always interested in all of them! I really enjoy the build up and love that the main characters are rather human and not able to do it all! Worth reading, I was very sad to finish it! I wanted it to go on. Thank you again J.K.
kpet More than 1 year ago
Where is Owen Quine? That's what Mrs. Quine wants to know. So she hires Cormoran Strike to find him. What Strike finds out is that a number of people also want to find Quine, especially after the manuscript of Quine's latest novel has everyone up in arms. Good plotting and a cast of suspects to keep the reader guessing. Who knew the world of publishing has so many interesting people. Highly recommended. Check it out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well plotted and I enjoyed the developing relationship (not romantic) between Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin. Many flawed characters, which is how life is. I didn't figure the murderer until it was revealed. However, it was so grisly I almost retched at one point. I won't read the next one unless I can tell the gore factor is lower.
kgp916 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Cormoran Strike and the grittiness of his life. The development of Robin's character was well written and believable. A very gripping summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Already sad that this wonderfully rich, textured, compelling book is over.  Eagerly anticipating the next...  She's the best whether writing Potter or Strike!  So glad to keep reading JK Rowling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The noble Cormoran of the first book, 'Cucloo's Calling', loses his footing in this second of the series. Rowling's constant harping of Cormoran's metal anguish over his ex-lover, Charlotte became tiresome; especially since the relationship ended in the first book. The development of Robin's and Cormoran's relationship with his family seemed to help bring the book into focus and give Cormoran  the foothold he needed to solve the case.