The reviews are in for J.K. Rowling’s detective novel, The Silkworm, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and they’re pretty promising.
Most of the reviews we’ve seen have been positive, but there are a few that were less than favorable. Many of the reviews noted that the book is better than its predecessor, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and certainly better than J.K. Rowling’s 2012 novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy. Of course, as always, there are some exceptions.
Here are some excerpts from a selection of (mostly favorable) reviews:
What Galbraith does so convincingly with the crime novel is, in a sense, what Rowling did so well with the children’s book. She is a magpie, with an unerring eye for elements of the genre, both traditional and contemporary, that work well. Where her originality lies is in pulling them together into a synthesis that is entirely her own. She takes the existing strengths of the genre and uses them as the building blocks for her own considerable storytelling gift, crafting books crammed with memorable characters that make irresistible reading.
J.K. Rowling, under her Galbraith pseudonym, again demonstrates her adroitness at crafting a classic fair-play whodunit in a contemporary setting, peopled with fully realized primary and secondary characters.
The evolving relationship between Strike and Robin, whose fiancé objects to her choice of work, is realistically portrayed, and Golden Age fans will be delighted by passages that could have been written by John Dickson Carr.
Ms. Rowling’s Galbraith novels have little of the ambition or sweep of her Harry Potter novels, which not only created a wonderfully complex and fully imagined world but also grappled with the big themes of good and evil, free will and fate.
What keeps the suspense percolating along is Ms. Rowling’s instinctive sense of storytelling and her ability to make the reader sympathize with Strike and Robin, two middle-class strivers plugging along in a status and increasingly money-conscious London.
The result is an entertaining novel in which the most compelling characters are not the killer or the victim, but the detectives charged with solving the crime.
Has Rowling digested all her experiences in the literary world into something precious? It’s certainly a damn good read. The plot is much more smoothly constructed than in The Cuckoo’s Calling, with Rowling giving her characters room to breathe while still taking a Christie-like delight in the cunning sowing of clues.
It’s a book to gulp down, and although Rowling may now be a bona fide Olympic-opening-ceremony-level celeb, the skill with which this book is written tells you as much as its subject-matter does that writing is the core of her life.
Not so favorable reviews mostly noted Galbraith’s/Rowling’s over-descriptive text.
Filled with so many red herrings he/she must have breached an EU quota, The Silkworm is an uneven and rather cruel piece of work, an unsettling mix of the cosily old-fashioned and the morbid. Unable to allow the story to tell itself, Galbraith micromanages every step the characters take. No meal is omitted, no reminder of their appearance left unsaid
Meanwhile, the cityscape of London is offered up in A-Z manner, Galbraith indicating tube lines taken and taxi routes followed, and commenting on sites of interest as he/she goes.
Indeed, regarding that last sentence, at times the book seems like a “travelogue of London,” as Van McDermid noted in her review in The Guardian.
Besides this, there was a clear message in many of the reviews, both good and bad, that J.K. Rowling’s gift is in writing series, with a well thought out plot and beautiful character development. As TIME’s review said, The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults published in 2012, had both a developed plot and characters, but the book was simply overcrowded and became confusing. “If I had Hermione’s time turner, I’d urge Rowling to go back and split The Causal Vacancy into two or three books,” the reviewer wrote.
The Silkworm is published today, June 19. You can purchase the book here.