I have a confession to make. I have NOT (never ever) read the HARRY POTTER series. Several factors contributed to that travesty:
1) It didn't even register on my TBR list until the first movie came out.
2) Children were too young when it started gaining popularity and no copies were found about the house.
3) Once I watched the movies, which I since watched countless times each, the books lost their appeal only because they'd lost the suspense.
And because I didn't read Harry Potter, I made it a point to read The Casual Vacancy when it came out. I liked it. A lot. I like Rowlings' writing style, like a slow chug up to the point of no return (the point where an avid reader, in all conscientiousness, cannot go back from or give up the climb) and then a steady race down to the finish. The Casual Vacancy is not fantastical, no swashbuckling Quidditch going on anywhere, no diabolic noseless robes or owls or magic wands swishing about...only Rowlings' magic quill calligraphing each page with care. It's a dark book about a small town reacting to the death of a popular citizen...a seemingly simple plot but by the end of the book, I didn't find my time wasted.
And that I think is the mark of a great writer.
Now, lets attend to the Cormoran Strike series. Written under the notorious pen name, Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm are detective/crime novels, simple and fantastic. I don't just like these books, I LOVE them. Again, both books are a slow build-up to a booming HE DID IT! The main characters are as likable and fleshed out as Potter and Hermoine and speak to me more as they are adults with plenty of muggle-world adult issues.
Which brings me to the Silkworm I recently read. This book not only takes you on a walk about London and its environs solving a crime, but into the bowels of the publishing world. My world, as it is. I love the concept of using a novel within a novel to unravel the plot...puts me in mind of An Imperial Affliction in the Fault In Our Stars.
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband 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 realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives-meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before... A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.
In The Silkworm publishers, editors, agents, writers and their aunts...all are suspect. Again, my world, as it is. :)
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book:
“The whole world's writing novels, but nobody's reading them.”
“We don’t love each other; we love the idea we have of each other. Very few humans understand this or can bear to contemplate it. They have blind faith in their own powers of creation. All love, ultimately, is self-love.”
“...writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.”
“Forever encased in the amber of a writer's prose.”
“Hard to remember these days that there was a time you had to wait for the ink and paper reviews to see your work excoriated. With the invention of the internet, any subliterate cretin can be Michiko Kakutani.”
Last but not least,
“... cheer the fuck up and eat your burger.” ~ Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm.