Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'The Silkworm'

I hate J.K. Rowling.

There.  I said it, and I mean it.  But I don't hate her in a mean way.  No, no.  I hate her with a great amount of love.  Confusing?  Sure.  It's a loveish-hateish thing.

I envy her her writing talent.  I appreciate the fact that while she could easily rest on her laurels, she instead keeps plugging away, submitting to her creativity.  And she loves children.  So much, in fact, that her foundation helps children get books into their hands. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

But I think I hate her most of all because I can't stay away from her books. I've read her 'Harry Potter' series more times than I can count.  And then she gave us her 'Cormoran Strike' series, mystery stories that completely drew me in.  Couldn't put the damn things down.

As I read the 'Cormoran' books, I couldn't help but notice that a few of her 'Harry Potter' characters emerged.  If I had written a cast of incredible characters, much beloved by all readers, I wouldn't be able to abandon them after I moved on.  In Cormoran, I sensed the presence of Hagrid.  And in Robin, I sensed Hermoine.  Harry and Ron haven't emerged yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if they do in the near future. Sorry, Jo, but that's the way I see it.

'The Silkworm', her new book, once again written under the pseudonym 'Robert Galbraith', was just as interesting, if not more, than her previous book, 'The Cuckoo's Calling'. This one permeates evil, with scenes that are quite unsettling.  Full of envy, lies, and deceit, I wanted to race through the story just to find out 'who did it'.  Of course, that's the point, and some readers can't help but read ahead, but Rowling's writing demands that we keep with the program and respect the story. 

It centers around the publishing world, a place in which Rowling is very familiar.    

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife, Leonora, asks P.I. Cormoran Strike to find him.  As Quine usually takes off for days at a time, Leonora needs him to come back home.

But as Strike soon discovers, there's more to Quine's disappearance than the usual holiday from home and family.  Quine has just finished a new novel that features poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.  If the book is published, it will ruin lives, so there are many people who might want to silence him.

The characters are memorable, although their tangled relationships are a bit hard to sort out.  But it soon becomes clear just how they are tied together, and those relationships are at times bitter, and at times, sad.  Twists and turns abound, especially when you're sure you know 'who did it'.  

J.K. Rowling, a.k.a. 'Robert Galbraith'
But the relationship that I find most interesting is the one shared by Cormoran and his intrepid assistant, Robin.  We learn more about Robin's relationship with her fiance, Matthew, and how she finally stands up to him in support of her life choice.  She's a fierce one, our Robin, and I can't wait to see her grow into her chosen profession. Strike is still attracted to her, but realizes that he can't have her, nor does he even try. He respects and values her. And that is what really keeps me reading.  Sherlock and Watson.  Hagrid and Hermoine.

Yes, I hate J.K. Rowling.

But my love of her writing and respect for her passion for reading surpasses even that.  And she's continuing to give us gifts, even her short stories centered in the Harry Potter universe.  I appreciate the fact that she is growing and branching out into something new.

But sometimes, you can't abandon your previous work.  And I thank her for that.

'The Silkworm', published by Mulholland Books, a division of Little, Brown, is available at your local library and favorite independent bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-316-20687-7

1 comment:

Don Lentz said...

So how often do female authors write pseudonym with a male name? First time I've run across that....