Just like everybody else, when it was leaked that Robert Galbraith was JK Rowling, I downloaded The Cuckoo’s Calling, I started it but abandoned it in favour of other books shortly afterwards, I did finish it in the end and I enjoyed it (although I was slightly disappointed by the reveal of the murderer), murder stories haven’t really been my ‘thing’ since my twenties (although I seem to be going through a phase at the moment where suddenly they are all that I want to read). Perhaps due to my current murder story thing, when I got my hands on The Silkworm, that was devoured from the word go and I absolutely relished it. I think it was easier to get into the story this time as the two main characters, Cormoran, the detective and Robin, his assistant, are more established, so there’s none of the setting up. Cormoran and Robin are both immensely likeable, if but in or recovering from, totally flawed relationships, which from the outsider’s / reader’s point of view, makes you wonder why they’re still there / still suffering , however Rowling establishes well, with believability why they still are.
In The Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling looks at the effects of the press on celebrities, in The Silkworm, Rowling looks at the sordid world of publishing, it makes me wonder, if Galbraith hadn’t been accidentally unmasked when he was, how much longer, just from the evidence of the books, the secret could have held. Galbraith was meant to have been a plain clothed military investigator, I don’t think plain clothed military investigators could write so well about the effects of fame or the elaborate courtship rituals of publishers to high profile authors, where as a billionaire writer of a hit children’s series, obviously could. I don’t think people would have necessarily have guessed it was Rowling, but I think it would have been pretty obvious that Galbraith was in fact a pseudonym for some very famous author or other.
Ironically just as you can see clues to Rowling’s life in The Silkworm, the book itself hinges largely on clues within a book written by the author Owen Quine, who has disappeared. Quine’s wife hires Cormoran Strike to drag, what she thinks as her errant husband, home. When Quine later turns up dead, it quickly becomes apparent that his last, very shocking manuscript, will be the key to solving the mystery.
Rowling / Galbraith uses the story to introduce several new, hopefully permanent minor characters to Cormoran and Robin’s lives; a half brother, a danger seeking friend, an old school friend lawyer, fleshing out the two main characters. Although both The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm could be read separately, it is obvious that Rowling is slowly weaving in a long running back story, separate from the crimes that Cormoran and Robin investigate, so, although I think The Silkworm is better than The Cuckoo’s Calling, both are good and I thoroughly recommend reading them in sequence. I can’t wait for the next one.
***** (out of 5) stars