Cormoran Strike’s detective business has picked up after the success of the Lula Landry case (learn more about the death of the popular socialite in Robert Galbraith’s debut novel The Cuckoo’s Calling). Eight months after he solved the case a plain woman in her fifties, Leonora Quine, seeks his detective services. Her husband has gone missing; in fact he’s been missing for quite some time. Leonora’s husband is a writer who is notorious for pitching fits followed by disappearing for a few days. However, Leonora is convinced that this disappearance is different. Moved by an unknown force, which Strike blatantly describes as “being knackered”, Strike agrees to take the case.
Owen Quine’s disappearance doesn’t rouse alarm in any of his literary coworkers, including his agent which he argued with publicly just days before disappearing. After learning about a house that Quine owned with another writer, his disappearance turns down a grisly path. Strike enters the shared home that had supposedly not been used for several years to find Owen Quine’s body horribly mutilated. This missing persons investigation quickly turns into a horrifying murder.
Strike must comb through the secret life of a man who not only enjoyed pushing the buttons of his fellow writers, but had a kinky sex life that ventured away from his plain wife. It doesn’t take long for him to discover that Quine’s newest, unpublished book shared the same grizzly ending as its author. With a plethora of eccentric suspects Strike must uncover the truth or prove that Quiene’s murder was a twisted form of publicity.
Throughout the novel, Strike’s relationship with his assistant, Robin, is severely tested. Even though the two of them have been working together for almost a year, they aren’t completely comfortable with each other. Moments of awkwardness flitter between Strike and Robin when their personal lives seep into the office. As the novel progresses, it’s plain that Robin and Strike need each other. Strike needs Robin to organize his life, both professionally and personally. She keeps his world running smoothly especially when his ex attempts to storm back into his life. On the other hand, Robin needs Strike in order to break her nature of second guessing her courage. Working alongside Strike, something that didn’t occur in the first novel, has shown her that plans can change drastically within a few short moments. The two of them do prove to make a good team.
As a whole, The Silkworm dives in a much darker world than The Cuckoo’s Calling. This macabre literary world is filled with betrayal, obsessions with death, and the calm nonchalance of a few major suspects. The novel whips readers around with enticing new directions to who killed Owen Quine and why.