Book Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Image Description: The book cover of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The cover is a picture of a red-brick alley-way with a red-tile flooring, at the end of the alley-way is the black silhouette of a tall man in trench over-coat with his back towards the viewer.
Image Description: The book cover of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The cover is a picture of a red-brick alley-way with a red-tile flooring, at the end of the alley-way is the black silhouette of a tall man in trench over-coat with his back towards the viewer.
Title: The Silkworm (Book 2 in The Cormoran Strike series)
Author: Robert Galbraith
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group. Imprint: Sphere
Format and Price: Audio-book at $30.73 (for non-members) or $14.95 (for members) – I got it as part of the free 30-day trial via Audible (although I do have the book in Ebook format as well)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About The Book:
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he 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 realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

General Observations:
~Read Diverse Books 2017: The Cormoran Strike series main character is Cormoran Strike, who was previously a soldier in the armed forces and eventually became an investigative officer within the army. During a tour of Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike was in the back of a jeep when the car he was traveling in hit a land-mine and blew up, the result was that Cormoran Strike lost half a leg and left the army shortly after. Readers might be thinking that a white British man missing half a leg might not count as a representation of Diversity, but I will argue that it’s a good depiction of a physical disability.

The disability is shown as having a realistic impact upon the character Cormoran Strike (how it affects him physically and mentally, such as the PTSD moment while he was being driven in the car) and upon the plot of the novel (Cormoran Strike is forced to acknowledge that because of his leg injury and prosthesis, there are just some tasks he can’t do and has to delegate them to Robin). The Cormoran Strike series acknowledges the difficulties and side-effects of having a physical disability, but it also acknowledges that it’s still possible to lead a relatively happy and successful life and I would consider Cormoran Strike successful.

~Door-stopper Material: The physical paperback is about 400 pages and the audio-book is 17 hrs and 16 mins, reading the Cormoran Strike series is a long-term investment of your time. Am I saying it’s an unworthy investment of your time? No. But the sheer size of the book was one of reasons I delayed reading this book and why I eventually decided to go the route of audio-book instead. The audio-book was enjoyable to listen to and I was able to listen to my book as well as perform other valuable tasks at the same time.

~Make or Break: There is a small flaw with the Cormoran Strike series, the characters withhold evidence or thoughts from the reader in order to build suspense for the main case and, while I know some readers of crime fiction who find this intolerable, I was willing to tolerate it, however, this might not be the case for everyone. The majority of the novel has a slow-build-up type of pace, which means all the pieces of the puzzle are slowly being put together and key information is being with-held for the final confrontation. I feel this results in the ending coming across as a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the narrative pace.

~The Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: In basic terms, some writers choose to focus more of the plot elements of a book (events that happen leading the character and the reader towards a narrative destination or journey) and the plot is what drives the book, while some authors choose to focus more on the character elements of the novel (how the character feels or reacts to an event), the character (how they think and feel) is what drives the novel, the event is secondary to the method in which the character acts or reacts to the event.

I would consider In the Woods by Tana French to be at the far end of the Character-Focus scale. How the officers felt, thought, and how they interacted with other characters in the novel was the focus of In the Woods and thus presented as more important than the crime itself. I don’t enjoy that kind of novel, I’m more of a plot-orientated reader and writer.

I feel that the Crime/Mystery/Thriller genre is more suited to plot-oriented focus, however, while Robert Galbraith’s writing style does sit slightly more towards the Character-Focus end of the scale, I feel that Robert Galbraith blends the elements of plot and character together in a better attempt at balance. The Cormoran Strike series does have more characterization than plot, but I feel that there is enough plot to keep the reader engaged and the characterization is interesting enough to persuade the reader to continue.

~Authentic Sources of Conflict: While there are slow moments in the books where the personal elements of the main characters Comoran Strike and Robyn’s lives, such as Cormoran Strike’s ex-girlfriend Charlotte getting married and how he feels about that, Robyn’s fiancé Mathew’s insecurities and dislike that Robyn’s job despite the fact that it is a high priority to her, and the personal conflict between Cormoran Strike and Robyn about where they stand professionally and whether or not Cormoran Strike will give Robyn Surveillance and Tracking training.

I think the Strike/Charlotte relationship was resolved as best the circumstances could allow and Robyn and Mathew (after having several arguments about the subject) were able to to come to an understanding about Robyn’s career choices. These conflicts were perhaps dwelt upon longer than they should have, but they were conflicts that needed to be acknowledged and addressed, I also felt they were resolved to a satisfying conclusion.

~Alternative Character Interpretation: While this could just be my personal interpretation, Leonora Quine (the murder victim’s wife) came across as someone with undiagnosed Autism, she was direct and perhaps a little too honest (or at least Cormoran Strike seemed to think so), her method of grieving (wanting to speak with the private detective she hired and making sure he was okay) is seen as odd to other people.

They were all expecting her to break down sobbing and when she didn’t perform to the police’s standards, she was considered suspicious. Leonora Quine did show outward signs of grief and distress, it was mostly centered around how she and her daughter had been forced out of their usual routine, which is very important to Autistic people. I’m not sure, perhaps it’s just me, I’d be happy to discuss it in the comments section.

In conclusion, an enjoyable suspenseful addition to the Cormoran Strike series with good character development, I’m looking forward to the third installment – Career of Evil (links below).

The Cormoran Strike Series:
01. The Cuckoo’s Calling
02. The Silkworm
03. Career of Evil

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.

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