Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wowed Again by Cormoran Strike and JK Rowling

Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Narrated by Robert Glenister
Little Brown
June 19, 2014

When we first met Cormoran Strike in The Cuckoos's Calling he was down on his luck, having lost the lower part of his leg in Afghanistan and his career as an investigator with the British Army. He is having little success and has been reduced to sleeping in his office. A very big case comes his way though, that of the supposed suicide of a supermodel. When Cormoran proves that the death was a murder and one-ups the Metropolitan Police, he finds himself with more business than he can handle and is working every minute of the day and night. Thankfully he has his stalwart assistant/apprentice, Robin Ellacott, to keep the business on an even keel.

While Cormorant is glad to be working and digging himself out of a financial mess, he is really tired of dealing with the parade of rich, vengeful wives and entitled "City" types coming through his office. When the dowdy wife of missing novelist, Owen Quine, asks him to find her husband he takes on the case, even though he doubts he will ever be paid. Quine began as somewhat of a literary enfant terrible with his first novel but has written a series of scurrilous and distasteful books since. At this point in his career he is a parody of the "literary author" stereotype and barely surviving on his book sales. When Quine disappears and parts of the manuscript of his newest work are "leaked" people sit up and take notice. Quine has written a poisonous and probably legally actionable novel in which many leading lights of the publishing world are portrayed, barely disguised. Cormoran finds Owen's gruesomely slaughtered corpse and the wife is chief suspect; all  his other cases fall by the wayside. Cormoran is certain that she is not guilty. 

There is a panoply of richly realized characters in The Silkworm; the emotionally stunted novelist's wife, the gruff and mannish agent, the egotistical best-selling author, the repressed publishing house CEO, Quine's mentally handicapped daughter, and a host of others. The mystery is amazingly twisty and I admit that I did not have a clue who could be such a cold-blooded and crafty murderer. Cormoran is a character one has to like while simultaneously wishing to give him a good "head smack". His tenacity leads him into self-destructive behavior that places health and well-being into jeopardy. Robin is much more than an apprentice and loyal side-kick. Outside of the case, life goes on with what is hopefully the end of Cormoran's dysfunctional relationship with on and off girlfriend, Charlotte; and Robin has her own issues with her self- involved fiance, Matthew.

Robert Glenister is a masterly narrator. It seems to me that he has a command of both London and regional accents which make all the voices of The Silkworm both distinct and memorable.
Whether listening or reading, I highly recommend The Silkworm to all mystery fans. It is perhaps a bit long in getting to the solution but Rowling's style more than makes up for it.

RATING- 5 Stars

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