Book review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Yes, Robert Galbraith is really JK Rowling. Yes, JK is unfeasibly wealthy and ridiculously successful. And, yes, as a much poorer and less successful writer, I ought to ameliorate my jealousy by writing an excoriating review scraping away her technique to reveal a writer buoyed up by an adoring, Hollywood-fed public and hard-working editors. Sadly, I can’t, because this is bloody good. Rats! Rats and double and triple rats. This is really unfair. At least with Dan Brown it is an easy matter to mock his success by citing his prose but, damnit, I can’t do that with JK; she can write.

All right, let’s abandon plan A. Here goes with Plan B: I am an early Rowling adopter. I read the second Harry Potter just after it came out, which puts me some way ahead of the fame bulldozer that began to shovel everything else out of the way once the film of the Philosopher’s Stone came out. I read each Potter thereafter as they came out, and loved them all (except number 5, of course, where all Harry does is SHOUT IN CAPITAL LETTERS). I admired how JK dealt with fame, vast amounts of money and the Scottish referendum, not to mention the efforts of some Christian apologists who really should have known better to paint her as the gateway to the occult and, in one dreadful case, imply that she is possessed by the devil (Michael O’Brien, what were you thinking?).

So, plan B: yay for JK! She writes, and well. She makes you (or at least me) want to keep turning the page well past my normal bedtime. Yes, the finger of writing fame seems to have got stuck at ROW for some reason that no one can really understand, but that is just the public appetite, no more explicable than the Marie Celeste or Kim Kardashian; it’s a phenomenon, as random and powerful as lightning and, for the recipient, possibly just as frightening. So all praise to JK for writing a riveting, pacy detective novel, with a wonderful sense of London (particularly for someone who lives in Edinburgh) and great characters.

Plan C: go out and read The Cuckoo’s Calling (but get it from the library – as a much less successful writer, I need the money more than JK does).


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