The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“[W]riters are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want lifelong friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.”
Bookshelves: brit-lit, mystery, detective, i-am-an-anglophile, whodunit
The silkworm here is Bombyx Mori, which is the title of pretentious writer Owen Quine’s tell-all masterpiece that gets him killed…or was that what did it?
Robert Galbraith (or J.K. Rowling, as everybody who hasn’t been living in North Korea knows by now) has another winner. Detective Cormoran Strike is back with all his skills, and his cool name, and his broken heart, and his boatloads of clients since he knocked it out of the park with the Lula Landry case. His assistant Robin is here too, still with her endless pots of tea, and her asshat fiance, and her longing to be something more than a secretary. It’s all good.
Argue if you like that these books are nothing special, and in the world of detective fiction they might not be. But it remains that Galbraith-aka-Rowling has a deft hand with plotting, pacing, and sense of place. It’s an admirable ability, to plunge us into a different world, whether it’s created out of whole cloth or a microsociety not readily accessible to most of us. In The Cuckoo’s Calling we traveled to the world of modeling and fashion; in The Silkworm we visit the land of literary writing and publishing, with all its pretensions and egos and backstabbing. I’ve never been as fond of books in which the detective solves the mystery using information only he had access to, so I appreciate Rowl-Galbra–oh the hell with it, everybody knows it’s Rowling so I’m just going to call her that–I appreciate that Rowling sprinkles the clues liberally about the book, there to pick up if the reader is able. I wasn’t able, but that’s all good too. The surprise is the best part of a whodunit.
I must say, this is the first murder mystery I can recall reading where the gory details actually had my stomach lurching a bit. I’m usually not squeamish. Perhaps that’s just me getting older.
Skads of new words:
Skint: British dialect; being broke. “I’m in a skint this week.” Considering I’ve lived most of my life this way, you’d think I’d have learned this word before now.
Gudgeon: small European freshwater fish, eaten by people or used as bait
Chrysostomatic: Golden-tongued, golden-mouthed. From John Chrisostom, an archbishop of Constantinople, in turn stemming from the Antioch-born Greek prelate who gave glorious sermons.
Mythomania: Abnormal or pathological tendency to tell lies. Most of us have dated one of those, and we just elected one as president, too. I have to get my digs in.
Recce: Recon, reconnaissance
Didicoy: Cornish word for gypsy
Amaneunsis: literary or artistic assistant
Etiolated: pale and drawn-out from lack of light
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