The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he 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 realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before.
Rowling nails it again. I imagine you all expected this opinion from fangirl numero uno, however I'll go on to tell you why this story was amazing.
I was fascinated by the plot. It was about writing. It was set in the busy and bitchy career lives of people in publishing. The bloody murder took place after Owen Quine writes a pretty scathing novel about his well-known colleagues in the literary circle. The book was never published, but everyone who was tarred within it managed to have a read of the manuscript - making them all suspects. Delicious.
The pace was close to perfect, with small deviations from the main case showing us some new sides to the static characters. Seeing Strike and Robin's relationship develop further was lovely, and it was great to see the minor character of Matthew get some more emotion behind him as well, even though I found him loathsome. These small strayings from the plot were timed well, and built good suspense before launching back into the murder case.
Cormoran Strike is a wonderful character, with thousands of layers. His military past, his lack of a limb, his complex relationship history, and his rise from the ashes, are all factors that make him a fascinating man. He's an excellent detective, with an almost Sherlock ability to read underneath the surface of other people's actions and words, to come to the right conclusion. Despite this, he seems to be very confused about his own reasoning and desires. He's incredibly flawed, fantastically interesting, and worryingly fanciable.
My only disappointment was that I knew who the killer was pretty early on. Having read The Cuckoo's Calling, I tried to talk myself out of this, thinking it was too obvious, and pinning my hopes on the killer being one of the characters who couldn't possibly have done it unless Galbraith had passed over into crazy land. There's a subtle(ish) hint early on the story which I picked up on. I'm not sure whether the hint was too obvious, or whether I'm some sort of Robin Ellacott in the making.
I'd love to read more Strike novels. This one was in the process of being edited before it's publication when Rowling was unmasked as Galbraith, so I really hope she has plans to further the story. Wonderfully executed, gripping, and entirely binding, I'd recommend this to anyone. The only prerequisite is to read A Cuckoo's Calling first to truly appreciate the development of Strike and Robin. Gorgeous.