Book #74: The Silkworm (2014)

IMG_2557.JPGAuthor: J.K. Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith)
Language: English
Length: 1048 minutes (17 hours 28 minutes)
Finished listening on: 28 September 2014

Getting this book was a bit of a no-brainer, since the first book in the Cormoran Strike series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was easily the best audiobook I’ve listened to this year, and I’ve listened to quite a few. This one was just as easy to listen to.

The story concerned a missing author, whose wife contacts Strike in his capacity as a private detective to try and find him. It’s fairly obvious from early on that the guy was murdered (otherwise we wouldn’t have a story) but the degree of gruesomeness surrounding the circumstances of his death are the interesting part of this novel.

There is a book within a book as one of the central plot devices, and the murder is very closely based on a murder that occurs in the book. This leads the investigation to interesting places. However, a lot of the plot is still a series of conversations between Strike and the various characters that knew the dead man. In fact, for me the most interesting parts were the ones that developed Strike and Robyn as characters and introduces us to their families and such; although some of this reads like filler, it does tie into the main story most of the time quite seamlessly.

As the dead character of the novel is an author, a lot of knowing jibes at the publishing industry are included. Just as I will bemoan any film where the characters themselves are actors or worse, filmmakers, I find novels about authors inherently narcissistic and a little annoying. In many ways this novel is too knowing in the way it shows its themes and its relationships between characters. It’s exemplified by the literary quotes included at the beginning of each chapter. It comes across as showoffy.

That said, it’s nice to be reminded how good an author J.K. Rowling really is, how good she can take readers along for a ride, and generally the quality of her exposition and easy writing style. And there were some subtle digs that were more relatable, such as the main character’s name being constantly mistaken, a feeling which I know all too well and I’m sure she does too.

Names seem, indeed, to be very important to Rowling. Quite where she got a name like Cormoran Strike is a mystery to me, although with the amount of times she mentions in this book that it comes from a Cornish myth, I’m sure it was entirely intentional and meaningful in some way. It’s still not at the level of Harry Potter, with etymologically significant names like Remus Lupin and all the alliterative names that keep cropping up, and virtually no-one with a normal name in sight.

Anyway, I do recommend this book overall. The audiobook is also well-recommended if only for the quality of the voice acting, as I mentioned regarding the previous book. Just looking forward to the next instalment now.

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