The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith: A Review

Date finished: June 17th 2016

I’ve come to realise that during the summer months, I have a far shorter attention span for books. I’m not sure if it’s the heat that makes my brain fuzzy, the fact that there’s more things to do outside in the summer, or just a congenital defect unique to me. Either way, non-fiction and dense literature risk being put down and never lifted again if I pick them up during the summer months.

As such, I’ve gone down the route of author’s I reliably love, and inherently gripping concepts. My latest read covers both bases, being the second in a series, the first installment of which I loved.


The Silkworm is the sophomore effort of the pseudonymic Robert Galbraith, who’s actually just J K Rowling using a different name for her crime writing. The second novel in the Cormoran Strike series follows the Private Detective and his assistant Robin Ellacott as they try to unravel the disappearance and death of novelist Owen Quine, whose latest macabre manuscript slated pretty much everyone who knew him: family, friends, publishers, writers… everyone has a motive, but only one person had the guts to carry out such a gruesome murder…

There’s nothing quite a novel that feels like an old friend. You know the characters; you know their tea, coffee and alcohol preferences (I’m not exaggerating: Strike’s tea is the colour of creosote, and his beer of choice is Doom Bar); they have the same old prejudices and morals – you pick up where you left off like no time ever passed. It’s testament to the level of detail Rowling packs into her stories, and it’s the key to her enduring success. Whether it’s under her Galbraith pseudonym or in Harry Potter, Rowling’s characters are tangibly alive thanks to her meticulous eye for the little details and quirks that define real people.

Of course, characters are all well and good, but what’s the plot like? Bloody brilliant, is the answer. The Silkworm, standing firmly on the foundations built in series debut, The Cuckoo’s Calling, sees Rowling’s imagination run riot, creating a riveting backstory to a crime that manages to be both shocking and original in today’s bloated crime-fiction market. The Silkworm is gruesome, cunning and deceptive, but it’s by no means bleak – it still retains all the warmth and charm present in its predecessor, notably through the thoroughly enjoyable relationship of Strike and Robin.

The Cuckoo’s Calling gave a tantalising glimpse of what Rowling could do with the crime genre. The Silkworm delivers on every one of those promises. I’m not one to sit and read a book in one sitting, but I read about 300 pages in five hours, only stopping to drink enough water to keep myself alive, and when people had the temerity to interrupt me. The Silkworm is quite simply one of the most marvelous crime books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.



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