Book review: The Silkworm

When I wrote about The Cuckoo's Calling, the first detective novel by J K Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, I mentioned how it felt in some ways similar to reading Agatha Christie.

The Silkworm re-enforces that, in no uncertain measure.

Cormoran Strike, the one-legged retired army-man is doing well - digging dirt about infidel men and women.  He has profited by his success in solving the Lula Landry murder case.  Robin continues to work for him, despite her fiancee's misgivings.

In comes Leonora Quine to Strike's office, asking him to investigate the mystery of her missing husband, a writer.  It appears to be a simple case of a runaway writer, but it is not.

Quine has written a book Bombyx Mori, which no one wants to publish.  Bombyx Mari is Latin for Silkworm which explains the book title.  In the novel, he has made veiled references to many of his peers, which have antagonized them.

As usual there are a number of suspects, who may have a hand in what is going wrong - a fellow author, an agent, a publisher, a girl with whom Quine is having an affair... Through a series of conversations with each of them, Strike unravels the case.   There is murder of course and the murderer has to be one of the suspects.

The book is set in London winter, so there is a lot of reference to rain, snow and Christmas.  Strike and Robin barely escape an accident in the freeway.  The personal life of Robin is also explored in the book, including her interest in being a detective, as well as how she handles her fiancee's disinterest on the subject.

Strike needs to enlist the help of his half-brother, Al, to enter into certain clubs where the action is.  He also needs his friend to dive into freezing waters to unearth incriminating evidence.

While the plot seems more believable here, there are still coincidences which are hard to explain.   The book is faster-paced though.   At 464 pages, it is a little long, but a good weekend (or extended weekend) reading.

By the way, you can read the excerpts of the book here.