“The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland Books, 2014)

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While the cat is long out of the bag that the secret identity behind Robert Galbraith is none other than Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, it seems that the Cormoran Strike mysteries are books that Rowling has wanted to write for some time. She doesn’t hold back with the characters or the story or the language, and in this second installment, The Silkworm, Rowling goes all out with a twisted gory murder of a lesser known author.

Owen Quine is a novelist who has achieved some notoriety with his books but not of the bestselling caliber he would perhaps like. Now Quine is missing and his wife needs private detective Cormoran Strike to see if he can find Quine or at least find out what has happened. Strike is now doing pretty well for himself after the success of his solving the Landry case in Cuckoo’s Calling and takes the high-profile case, which he thinks is about a missing person.

After tracking down a piece of property co-owned by Quine, inside Strike finds the brutally murdered and destroyed body of the author and it now becomes a murder investigation. The police don’t think too highly of Strike after he showed them up last time and don’t give him much help, but he’s still able to talk with the right people and work on putting the pieces together, though there are a lot of pieces.

The entire publishing world is angry at Owen Quine for attempting to publish a work of satire that ridicules the entire literary crowd, including Quine’s own editor and agent to an embarrassing degree. While the book hasn’t been published yet, titled Bombyx Mori (Latin for silkworm), a few copies have been made that end up in the wrong hands and pretty soon more copies are made and everyone is reading it. So Quine’s list of potential murderers is considerable.

Rowling clearly had fun writing a dark murder mystery set within the heart of the publishing world, as well as not holding back with the grisly details and unlikeable characters. Like Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm is a fun mystery that keeps the reader going until the resolution and the murderer is found. One hopes Rowling will continue to write more of these great mysteries that she clearly has a talent for.

Originally written on September 24, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Silkworm from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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