Thursday, July 3, 2014

J.K.Rowling's The Silkworm

This is J.K.Rowling's second crime thriller in the Cormoran Strike, Private Detective, series.

The growing relationship between Strike and his admin assistant Robin is the heart of the book. It is very well done, particularly Robin's tense relationship with her fiancé Mathew and his distaste for her underpaid job. I was so hoping that she would dump this upper class witless prick and bed Strike, but, alas, it wasn't to be.

The central part of the book however - the crime thriller aspect - is pure unadulterated rubbish. A famous novelist is brutally murdered and everyone associated with him - his publisher, editor, agent, wife, lover, a fellow author - is in the frame. The victim had submitted a manuscript for his next book that lays into each of them. It's a savage, thinly disguised exposure of all their perversities and dark secrets. The manuscript is called 'Bombyx Mori' ( Latin for silkworm).

Strike's previous case, the murder of a young celebrity model, made him famous because he solved the crime and outsmarted the police. The media loved it.

So Rowling has him outsmarting the police again. Ho hum. All the suspects in this new case are hugely unlikable but, this being publishing, they all like to talk over lunch or drinks. They're a miserable bunch of sexual deviants, drunks and conceited bores. It's just horrible spending so much time with them, but Rowling's obviously got it in for all of these book industry types and we all have to suffer.

The denouement is rather absurd. Strike works out who the murderer is, but as readers we have to wait for dozens of pages before we're told. In the meantime the police, of course, have charged someone else. The murderer's identity is supposed to resolve all those unanswered questions and tie  all the loose ends up, but it's just a puzzle by now and the whole thing is pretty meaningless and uninteresting, and Rowling indulges in some awful sentimentality. I'd given up caring.

I doubt I'll be reading the third Strike novel. 

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