One of the many books I got stuck into while spending 14 hours on public transport was The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.
Now, I didn’t hate it. Not by a long shot. And I’ve read a LOT worse. It also won’t stop me from acquiring Book #3, either. BUT what I have said before and I’ll say again – JK Rowling needs a decent editor. More on that later…
The Silkworm is set in the world of literary editors and small publishers and that sort of thing and involves the demise of a rather unpleasant chap who has written an equally unpleasant book about a whole heap of not particularly pleasant people, none of whom are particularly pleased.
Cormorant Strike is hired by said writer’s wife to find him when he goes missing, and the bulk of the story is Strike looking for Quine and dealing with the people in his life while trying to a) find out where he is and then b) find out who it was what dunnit. The police are exceedingly dim and frustrating in this book – I am used to my British bobbies being a bit more on the clued up side. American police, however – Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane I am looking at you. Actually, I suspect the policeman in this book was using the aforementioned Sheriff as a role model. Yes. That bumbling.
There’s a decent amount of tension between Strike and Robin, his secretary and the relationship between Robin and her fiance, Matthew (who is a bit of a dick, and reminds me vaguely of an ex boyfriend so I am inclined to dislike him on principal without his dislike of Robin’s job and employer.) is a bit fraught and full of “he doesn’t understand me” but I get the distinct impression Robin doesn’t talk to him about it, plus Matthew is a dick.
Now, there’s not really a lot I can say about the book without giving away the entire plot. So instead, I shall whinge a little about the padding. In A Cuckoo’s Calling, JK Rowling banged on and on and on about how damn HAIRY Cormorant Strike is. This time, not so much about the hair – but on and on and on about his leg and how damaged it was and how woe was him. Toughen up, princess. Get a cane and use it. No need to go on and on and on and on and on and on about it. Some of it was really good, really well written and really tight. Then there were bits that were so – I dunno.
Sometimes, when I was studying literature at school, I would think hey, maybe this part of the book is just there to move the plot along from one place to another and there’s really no deeper meaning. That’s sort of how I felt with this – that the writer was trying to impose meaning on something that really was just moving the plot along from one point to another. I found that a little frustrating (it’s like when people use words that don’t mean quite what they think they mean which makes them come across as a bit try hard and stupid.)
So yeah, didn’t hate it, didn’t love it either. Definitely will read the next one whenever it comes out. They don’t totally suck, but there is surely an editor out there who can trim between 50 and 100 pages from these books. With some of the fluff cleared out, I reckon they have the potential to be a cracking read. Just not yet.