Review | The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

A slight improvement on book 1: solid and entertaining but still overlong and overly complex. 3.5/5 stars.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith book cover

The blurb: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

My take:

I read and reviewed Book 1 in this series – The Cuckoo’s Calling – back at the start of December and gave it 3/5 stars. As you can see, I’ve rated this second installment slightly higher, mostly because it’s mercifully free of the over-blown language which featured in the first book and irritated me by no small measure. If you missed my slightly ranty review of Book 1, you can see it here.

Otherwise, I could pretty much copy what I said about Book 1 and paste it here. To be brief:

  • characterization very good (we like Robin and Strike but just about everyone else is loathsome)
  • descriptions of London excellent
  • far too long.

And this time I picked up on something else which could also be said of The Cuckoo’s Calling: the mystery is a little too impenetrable. There are so many characters with intertwining backstories, unless you keep your own notes as you’re reading you have little hope of guessing who did it. Every time Strike has a revelation I get the feeling we’re supposed to have an inkling of what he’s thinking. Sadly, I didn’t have a clue.

Keeping the reader so deeply in the dark means that when the murderer and their motive is finally revealed, it all happens in the last thirty pages, giving us little time to enjoy the revelations and how Strike worked it all out. I would have preferred it if we’d at least had enough access to Strike’s suspicions to be able to form our own! I don’t want to author to put up huge, obvious signposts, but some little, accessible hints wouldn’t go amiss. I want to feel like I’m on the detective’s team and privy to some of his secrets.

I’m going to take a moment to talk about the best thing about this series: Robin. Once again, I will be continuing with the series just to find out what happens to her. My hope? She gets all the detective training she can, dumps Matthew, quits her job and sets up her own detective agency which swiftly becomes fantastically lucrative. Then she can start to sub-contract to Strike when she and her staff have more work than they can handle in-house.

Overall: another entertaining mystery. I will continue with the series, but only when I can get it from the library.

Have you read The Silkworm? Have you already read Career of Evil? Is it the best in the series? Let me know! (but please no spoilers about Robin!)


Claire Huston / Art and Soul

20 thoughts on “Review | The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

    • The writing is good, but when she isn’t edited harshly she draws things out. Like with the Harry Potter series: the first few books were all short and then they got longer and longer… You get the impression that with success the editors aren’t as strict with the red pen because they know readers will trawl through longer books.
      I will read the next one in this series because I’ve been told it’s the best one…
      I haven’t (and won’t) read The Casual Vacancy though – people say that’s terrible! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually The Casual Vacancy was more in her usual style than this one. And she wrote excellent characters in that one. It is a downbeat read. In the Silkworm it felt like the characters were too stock if you get what I mean. For example Mathew feels really like how Snape was written out in Harry Potter really awful only to turn good later on.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! I’m glad The Silkworm was slightly better than the first book, although I still don’t think I will be getting a copy soon. There are a lot of other books I want to read first before I want to continue this series… Knowing that it is not mindblowingly good does help me feel less guilty. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      Definitely. There are lots of other things out there that are better, I’m sure. I’m such a series completist, now that I’ve started I’ll have to finish even if there are other things I’d rather be discovering 😦
      And this is why I think long and hard before starting a series!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish I could do the same! I have way too many series I still have to finish… Although I’ve made it easier for myself and I now abandon series I’m really not interested in. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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  5. I’ma big fan of Robert Galbraith…read all the Cormoron Strike books, but this was my least favourite. Too many characters, so I lost track a bit, and too grotesque. But the Robin/Strike relationship still had me hooked. And I am loving the adaptations on the TV, all the main characters are perfectly cast. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I’m so glad the TV adaptation is good and they didn’t make the mistake of casting anyone “too pretty” to be Strike – that would have ruined it. The third book is my favourite to date. I definitely think they’re getting better as she goes 🙂 And I love Robin!


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