The Silkworm (Robert Galbraith, 2014)

The Silkworm: rainy-day fiction.

The Silkworm: rainy-day fiction.

Time off from The Curing of a Bibliomaniac is allowed, because my friend Sturdy lent me this alluring paperback and anything by J. K . Rowling, that is, Robert Galbraith, is essential reading.

 

 

My history as a crime junkie dates back to a time after I finished my uni degree, filled with postmodern literature, ye olde English literature, film theory, poetry, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in film, Australian fiction, Australian fiction in film, etc, etc.

This stuff was wicked, but it bruised my brain so severely that by the time I graduated I shuddered at the very sight of a Thinky Book.

Enter crime. The compulsive nature of crime serials by excellent authors such as Val McDermid, Colin Dexter, Lee Child, Ian Rankin and Frances Fyfield, to name but a few, served as a panacea to my aching soul, serving up quality reading material in a structure I could rely upon to be relatively unchanging.

Not THAT proud of my matching Colin Dexter collection, jeez.

Not THAT proud of my matching Colin Dexter collection, jeez.

 

Like a fool, I kept buying all kinds of books as well as these, hence large, slightly bibliomaniacal (is this a word?) collection of the unread. And the need for a cure. Hehehe. Searching for a cure for the unread. Get it?

 

 

But I digress. Suffice it to say that when a friend delivers a succulent new morsel such as this, I drop everything and snuggle down and say goodbye to society for a couple of days.

Silkworm did not disappoint – Galbraith’s writing is so deft and perceptive you can’t help but break into delighted smiles as you read, nodding in recognition, and sometimes even a giggle at some particularly incisive phrase.

The evocation of London is such that it makes you long to see it in front of you as Strike (central character, ex-soldier-turned private detective) does. Well, at least it was raining in Perth.

This is the second novel in the series, the first being The Cuckoo’s Calling, and as Sturdy says, there is some excellent character development in this instalment, with the promise of more to come.

The same thing struck me about Silkworm as The Cuckoo’s Calling: Galbraith inhabits diverse worlds with remarkable comfort, moving from poverty to riches, and detailing industries from fashion to publishing as though born to them.

This is a joy to read, a traditional, engrossing detective novel with everything it needs to be among the best in the genre: depth of character, tight plot, mood and style, with some deliciously shivery moments. It deserves to have real money spent on a physical book that takes up real space in your house.

If you’ll indulge me in a cringey metaphor, it’s more satisfying than a good meal, because generally after good food you feel a bit overfull and regretful, whereas this is a perfect portion that leaves you wanting more.

After continuing with How to Cure a Bibliomaniac, of course.

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The Casual Vacancy (J. K. Rowling, 2012)

Obviously I very much wanted this book to be awesome, and I’m pleased to tell you that it WAS.

Rowling opens with a series of brief character snapshots, which get you completely hooked by the time she plunges into the sordid depths of a town and a council filled with people you mostly hate, but are fascinated by and perversely rooting for, all the same.

In this, it reminded me of Christos Tsolkias’ The Slap, which I must admit I didn’t get much more than a couple of chapters into; because that really was too ugly for me, though I’m prepared to concede that I might have felt differently had I pushed on with it.

There was never any question about pushing on with this novel. It is one compulsive read, and every bit as suspenseful as anything of hers I have ever read, despite its conspicuous lack of wizards.

She gives the most accurate representation of the machinations of an insular community that you could ever hope for – its government, its festering wounds and the age-old prejudices between its haves and have-nots. She articulates so perfectly the enraging, hackneyed arguments of the small-minded and privileged that I found myself getting worked up on many a character’s behalf.

She captures what can be the mad mental anguish of being a teenager, not to mention just being a person, or a part of a family, so well that I found it a little confronting, to be honest.

But at no point was there any danger of me putting the book down, no matter how close to home it sliced.

An extraordinarily intense reading experience, ideal book-club fare, and a satisfying kick in the pants for all who have ever tried to tell me she wasn’t a great writer.