The literary world under Sherlock’s magnifier
Author: Robert Galbraith/J.K.Rowling
Publisher: Sphere Books
„‘When he started the book we were still – in theory – friends’, said Fancourt, with a grim smile. ‘But writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long 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.’ ”
The image of a torn literary world, dominated by the shifting taste of a rather moody readership, is powerfully expressed in the second book of the Cormoran Strike sequel - „The Silkworm”. This time, the victim is not a beautiful woman, kidnapped from the spotlight, but a selfish writer, namely Owen Quine, fancying all sorts of sadomasochistic scenarios, making his best to catch again the eye of the public. Moreover, Silkworm also focuses on the relationship developed between Cormoran Strike and his secretary, Robin Ellacott, which actually proves to become a fruitful partnership shadowed by tensions (the most of the times, due to the clash between Robin’s passion towards the detective whatabouts and her couple life). Irrespective of the obstacles, Strike and Robin are struggling to find out relevant links between fiction and the cruel jungle of alliances between London publishing houses, all these in order to solve a bizarre murder, in which Owen Quine was killed according to a key-scene from his last unpublished mauscript.
Her intuition and his good sense
After reading this volume, I noticed that the literary plans of J.K.Rowling seem to have slightly changed – now she doesn’t want to impress by putting together a thorough social analysis , as it happened in Casual Vacancy, but, given the fact that she prepares for a new series of novels, she clearly wants to determine the reader to identify with her two heroes, Strike and Robin, this is why she wants to make them human first of all. Thus, we are offered scenes from Cormoran’s office, meetings with various clients, investigations on the spot and snapshots of Robin-Matthew couple relationship or fugitive images of Strike’s sentimental quarrels. More than these, the writer facilitates the access to the self-talk of these heroes always on the alert. He is a loner with a good sense of humour, a little grouchy, sensible from head to toes, sometimes overwhelmed by an injured leg and the fame of a careless father. She is only 25, is gifted with an inquiring curiosity, has a thing for tiny details, puts passion in everything she decides to involve in and may be the impersonation of English kindness.
His fiancé, Matthew, tries to point out that an unsatisfying salary can’t oblige her to be at Strike’s disposal anymore, but once the Sherlock fever has hit her, Robin is unable to let this financial trifle disturb the adventure of her life. Woman before everything else, she has a funny evolution during the novel: at times, obedient as a Victorian lady, putting the duty towards her to-be husband first rather than the fascination of a peculiar murder, but out of the blue Robin has the habit to break free, forgetting all about the humbleness of an ideal wife and setting out to find the guilty one. She searches for tracks, puts questions to the witnesses, suggests possible suspects, comes with solutions and feels more alive than ever; she and Strike are an excellent team, in the sense the traditional crime fiction literature accustomed us (Sherlock-Watson kind of vibe). She has a fabulous intuition and he scrupulously indexes all the pieces of evidence he could find… with such a method, the murderer can’t stay hidden for too long! (but the author often prefers to hide it from us more than from the protagonists, this is why she becomes redundant from time to time, avoiding the big moment of truth) When Robin and Strike find Owen Quine lying like a Thanksgiving-Day turkey on a table in a deserted house, split, cut, burnt with acid and disemboweled… they instantly know that what they see is the action of a sick imagination, fed by the desire to take revenge.
The inevitable parentheses
As they make a list of all the possible suspects, Robin and Strike wanders all over London, thus giving the author the chance to create lush descriptions. The English-like streets become soon deserted and this makes space for a different kind of digressions: J.K.Rowling doesn’t use the narrative pauses in order to make a show out of her style, she prefers to express her opinion in all sorts of matters, from couple relations, deceptions and the memories they derive from, the literary world, fame up to loneliness. When the story is again the focus of the book and the crazy rhythm of investigations dominates every and each word, the transition is possible by the means of some ironic observations and by some samples of dry humour in which the heroes soak their daily anguish. Up until the unveiling of the murderer, J.K.Rowling takes us on a wild ride through a deceiving labyrinth, jam-packed with plots, blame, envy, populated by mischievous characters led by a morbid melancholy after their first editorial success.
An energetic story, sprinkled with witty dialogue;
Repetitive passages, a book which unveiles its story in so much pages that ends up dissolving the suspense;
For all the J.K.Rowling fans, for those who love a good crime fiction story, for the admirers of the English novel, for those who want to test their intelligence by figuring out who is the murderer between the lines.