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Posts Tagged ‘Private Detective’

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The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike detective series, by Robert Galbraith – who everybody and his wife knows is J K Rowling writing under a pseudonym.

I really enjoyed the first book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, despite having seen the excellent television adaptation, and therefore knowing ‘whodunnit’. I was determined to read the rest of the books available before watching their respective adaptations, and as the adaptation of this particular novel has been sitting in my recorded items for some time, I felt I should probably get around to reading it.

The plot here revolves around a writer named Owen Quine, who has written a provocative novel, which casts aspersions about many other people in the literary and wider world. It has given several people reason to detest Quine, so when he is found murdered in extraordinary circumstances, there is no shortage of suspects. With the police choosing the most convenient suspect, it is left to Strike and his assistant Robin to try to get to the truth.

If anything, I enjoyed this book much more that the first one in the series; the writing seemed much more pulled together somehow and the mystery was more satisfying. As I say, I did actually really enjoy The Cuckoo’s Calling, but it did have a convoluted plot, which meant that knowing the outcome from the start probably helped. With The Silkworm, I had no idea of the outcome, and while the plot was tightly woven, I was able to follow it and found myself getting pulled in. It’s wonderful when you find a book that you actually look forward to coming back to, as I did with this one. They mystery kept me guessing and there was a twist at the end, which I did not predict but which was not so out of left field as to be completely unbelievable.

Also the characters of Strike and his assistant Robin were much more fleshed out in this novel. I continue to adore Robin, who is intelligent, compassionate and a good foil for the gruff and imposing Strike.

All in all, I can’t find anything to complain about with this one, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

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There can’t be many people now who don’t know that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym of J K Rowling. Having never read any Harry Potter – or seen any of the films – I have the luxury of not being able to compare her books for adults to her books for children.

The main character is Cormoran Strike, ex-Army, having lost a leg in the Afghan War. He now works as a private investigator but is only just scraping by and is forced to live in his office, as he has just broken up with his fiancee. So he is not best pleased when a temping agency sends him a secretary named Robin, who he did not want and cannot really afford to employ. However on the same day that this happens, the brother of an old schoolfriend walks into his office wanting Strike to investigates the death of his sister, supermodel Lula Landry. The case had previously been ruled a suicide, but Lula’s brother John is convinced that someone murdered her. Strike reluctantly takes the case, and it becomes clear that there is a lot more to Lula’s death than it first appears.

I had actually already seen the TV adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling, so I already know who the guilty party was, so I guess it says something that this book still held my attention all the way through and I really enjoyed it. Galbraith (I’m still calling her that for the purpose of this review) pays attention to small details and has a descriptive style of writing which I liked a lot. I also really liked the characters of both Strike and Robin. Strike always seemed to be verging on shambolic in his appearance and style, but was obviously very astute and intuitive. And Robin – well…yay for a female character who is balanced, cheerful, intelligent and resourceful, and also one for whom romance is not her main storyline. Strike and Robin grow to like and respect one another but – minor spoiler – there is no romance there and no suggestion of it (although I haven’t read any of the subsequent books in the series, I hope their relationship remains this way).

The mystery itself is quite tangled and I felt that I did need to pay attention to the storyline, but my attention didn’t wander, and I thought the final reveal was done extremely well. Had I not already been aware of who the killer was, I don’t honestly think I would have guessed.

So all in all, this book gets a big thumbs up from me. I also highly recommend the TV adaptation, and intend on reading the other books before watching the adaptations of those.

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This is the first book in the Aberystwyth series, by Malcolm Pryce, and I really enjoyed it. The book is a pastiche of the pulp fiction books from the 50s, and while it should be silly and completely unbelievable, it is far better than that. Yes, the story is too incredible to be really taken seriously, but when I was reading it, I really found myself getting sucked in to it.

Louie Knight is a private detective in Aberystwyth, in the 1980s. The mysterious and beautiful singer Myfanwy Montez asks him to investigate the disappearance of her cousin Evans, and despite his initial reluctance, Louie finds himself getting drawn into the mystery. Evans is just one of a number of schoolboys who has disappeared recently, and Louie has to find the connection between all the missing boys, as well as finding out who might want to hurt them.

Louie is a likeable hero, and is the only character who really stood out for me – the others will probably fade fast once the book is finished.  But that doesn’t really matter – this is his show and he should be the star.  His character is clearly an homage to the likes of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and mixed in with the quirky settings and situations, this combination works well.  The Aberystwyth depicted in this book is a deliberately skewed version of the real place – it’s run by the crime lords (druids) and there are all sorts of unusual comings and goings.

The book is populated by unusual characters, and the incidents pile on top of one another at a furious pace. In fact, that is my only slight complaint. Because things happen at such a rapid rate of knots, I found myself getting a bit confused as to what was happening, and how it connected with what had already happened. But don’t let that put you off. Overall, this is a hugely enjoyable, amusing read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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