Cormoran Strike in The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith

Mystery/thrillers tend to be my book equivalent of comfort food. I go to them when I want something quick and entertaining to read. I can’t imagine that ever changing, but I do occasionally find myself bored of the genre’s trappings. Hard-boiled male detectives or ladies with clumsy romantic comedy love lives try to solve a case that inevitably becomes a personal showdown between them and the twisted killer–with numerous twists and turns to shock the reader. It gets old. When everything is surprising, nothing is surprising anymore.

So the Cormoran Strike mysteries have been somewhat refreshing for me. Yes, there’s a hard-boiled male detective with a catchy name, and yes, he has a female assistant with a complicated love life, but the books spend a lot of time on character development. These aren’t necessarily token character attributes because the books take time to tease out details and reactions. And the Strike mysteries (so far, at least) don’t rely on twists and misdirections that end up feeling cheap or abusive. The plots are straightforward affairs with tight plotting and a considerable downsizing of twists that undermine the book’s credibility.

Is it perfect? No. But it feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s like having a reliable friend you can call when you just need a break from everything else. A friend who won’t throw unnecessary drama on you just because you reached out. And that’s quite enough for me.

Grade: B+

Related: The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Silkworm Robert Galbraith

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