Prather’s Pick: A Cormoran Strike novel
“The Silkworm,” written by Robert Galbraith, is the second Cormoran Strike novel. The book, for adults, is published by Mulholland Books, Little, Brown, and Company (2014). Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. Her first Cormoran novel was “The Cuckoo’s Calling.”
Cormoran Strike, “Strike” for short, is a private investigator who lives in Great Britain. He’s a big man — 6 foot 3 inches — an ex-serviceman who had a career in the Special Investigation Branch, the plainclothes wing of the Royal Military Police. He was decorated for bravery after saving another man. He lost his lower right leg so he gets around with a prosthesis, which sometimes causes his leg to swell and cause pain.
Strike lives in a building on Denmark Street. His living quarters are on the third floor in a small space under the eaves, and he has only to walk down to the second floor to get to his office. His young assistant is Robin Ellacott, who is about to marry her fiance Matthew (a man who doesn’t like Strike).
Strike investigates all kinds of situations and is especially popular since he solved the Lula Landry case. So as the novel opens, Strike meets a new client. Lenora Quine wants Strike to find her missing husband and bring him home. Their daughter Orlando has special needs, and Lenora wants her husband home to help her. It’s not that Owen Quine has never left home before; that’s why Lenora hasn’t called the police. He is apt to return home after a while.
There are other strange things going on at the Quine home, too. First of all, someone has been putting dog excrement through their letter box, Then a weird woman has shown up, telling Lenora to let her husband know that “Angela died.” A tall, dark-haired woman has been following Lenora, too.
It seems that Owen Quine’s disappearance centers around Quine’s latest book, his third one. He had worked on it for two years and told his wife that his agent said it was the best book he’d written. The problem is that his agent, who was ill when she read the book, changed her mind and said that it is “unpublishable,” Quine came home, grabbed the book, the manuscript and notes and left. He will not answer the phone. Lenora thinks he’s at the writers’ retreat, but she doesn’t know where it’s located.
So the investigation begins. Strike manages to get a copy of “Bombyx Mori” and shares some of the book’s plot with the reader. Throughout the book, various characters describe it as “vile and malicious” with symbolism, perverse sex and, worse, there are recognizable characters in the book, opening up the possibility for libel cases.
The reader follows Strike as he travels around the city, visiting the book’s characters at their homes, at work and at cafes. Most of the characters are involved in the publishing world. The plot provides lots of detail. Then the novel takes a turn. Strike finds Quine, but he can’t take him home. The death scene is brutal and gory, and it seems to be tied to the book. Now the police are involved, and Strike has been warned to stay of the investigation. Besides that, the police think that Lenora is the chief suspect in her husband’s death.
There is so much detail that this novel has taken me a little longer than usual to finish. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot. You can find the novel at the Moffat County Library. If you would like to purchase a hardcover book, it will cost you about $28.