The Silkworm by Robert GalbraithThe Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm

byRobert Galbraith

Hardcover | June 18, 2014

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Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.
Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy.
Title:The SilkwormFormat:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.72 inPublished:June 18, 2014Publisher:Little, Brown And CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316206873

ISBN - 13:9780316206877

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! This book was FULL of surprises! every time I thought I had the plot figured out something was changed. I loved the story line between the main charters and it left me wanting more.
Date published: 2018-11-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but convoluted I am really enjoying this series of mysteries featuring private detective Cormoran Strike. This story features the same interesting characters and expands on the growing working relationship between strike and his assistant, Robin. The mystery at the heart of the story is highly original and also highly convoluted, which leads to a lot of ponderous exposition as well as highly detailed descriptions of London transit. I enjoyed it, but there was some deep wading at points.
Date published: 2018-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good follow up! I enjoyed reading this second book in the series but I found it dragged on a bit. I really liked the storyline but found too many descriptive details and pages and pages with no dialogue made it tough to get through. Absolutely worth getting through it though! Great novel just not a super easy peasy quick read.
Date published: 2018-07-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not as good as book 1 its always hard to have a strong book two follow-up in character series so wasn't suprised
Date published: 2018-04-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hard to start but worth it ! this book took me sometine to start i had to stop and come back to it often but in the middle of the story i was hooked and couldnt let it down until the end!!
Date published: 2018-04-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as book 1 or 3 I had a really tough time finishing this book. I found that the story line was good, but far too intricate to keep track of who was whom.
Date published: 2018-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I liked it even more than the first book in the series This is the second book in the series and I liked it even more than the first one. The story was interesting from the beginning and loved the writing style as well. I finished the book in a week and can hardly wait to read the 3rd one.
Date published: 2017-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love it!! I just finished this book and loved it! So twisted and the killer is in front of your face the entire time!
Date published: 2017-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good P.I. series I'm glad the J.K. Rowling continued the series even after being outed as the writer. It is a good series, with interesting, and diverse plots. Definitely a good read for all you sleuths out there
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finished it too quickly! Darker and more fast-paced than the first, which I also loved - I am really enjoying the series so far and hope for more books asap!
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good book It is better than the first book. While the plot and the whole "Bombyx mori" book is very psychedelic it is justified. Nice plot twists.
Date published: 2017-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good plot and characters - a nice read! Enjoyed it so much I bought The Cuckoo's Calling.
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it A very good novel which I think readers of mystery novels would really enjoy.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing story I had a hard time putting this book down I loved it!
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from page turner loved it... took a while to read it though, but still a page turner
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Excellent storyline, loved it!
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read This book is hard to put down. I loved the story and would definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read This book is well written and interesting to read. I would recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved these characters JK Rowling once again immerses you into her characters world
Date published: 2017-05-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a fan I been reading JK Rowling adults books and I found them very hard to get interested in them. I guess I'm so used her Harry Potter books. If your interested in mysterious books then I recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressive I really enjoyed this novel. Highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from alright wasn't really entertained. i find it hard to like jk rowling's adult novels.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well written! 3.5 stars. A good mystery.
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it This is just as good as her first detective novel. I liked it and recommend it
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! I really enjoyed reading the book
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just keeps getting better! The Silkworm is easier to get into than the first novel. J.K. Rowling does it again, she wrote another amazing detective story!
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Keeps getting better Cormoran Strike is certainly a flawed character, but as his background is slowly revealed, with more to come, in this second mystery, he becomes more likeable. A good mystery story and the slowly growing attraction to his secretary, have me looking forward to another book. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read Great mystery - will definitely be looking for the first title now. Very enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Mystery! Rowling can write! The Strike Series is a great mystery series. Can't wait for the next one.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The greatest!! This was just the greatest read ever, I loved it. It had me hooked from the first page and the characters are very interesting.
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not my cup of tea I did not enjoy this novel, found it difficult to complete
Date published: 2017-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great 2nd in the Series I really enjoyed the 2nd book in this series. I always can't wait to pick up the next.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A surprising disappointment I loved "the cuckoo's calling", and it was great to enjoy JK Rowling's writing in an entirely new form (not to mention I love the mystery genre). However, this follow-up came as a disappointment. Rowling's strong and unique writing style was still present, but the story was awful- it was so disgusting and explicit that I didn't even finish the book. It seems like she went too far with the "shock and awe" element, and for me, it was just too much.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't Wait to Read This Just bought this. Can't wait to starting reading this this weekend.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good not bad to read this book in this sale price!
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable Another great read; really loving this series. It's nice to see a good balance between the development of the main characters' storylines and the arc of each book's central mystery. I'm excited to see where the series goes.
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I loved this book and cannot wait to read the next one.I feel like I know the investigator and his assistant in the book,and I really like them, can't wait to see what they do next!
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different Wasn't really a fave of mine personally. Struggled to get through. Came highly recommended but wasn't for me.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love! Corman Strike is my new super hero! Attention grabbing!
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good Definitely recommended for fans of JK Rowling
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! This is an excellent book. I really enjoyed this book, along with the other two in the series. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a fave! Took awhile to get into but ended up being ok...not a favorite though
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Loved it The book does get better as you go into it, worth a read
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gets Better as it moves along This novel is fairly lengthy and starts slowly, BUT you find yourself with a compelling read as you finally get all the novelists, publishers, characters clear. The relationship between Strike and his assistant evolves and makes you want to read the next book to find out what happens to them.I like the notion that Strike is a wounded vet and not some glossy Hollywood PI.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book! I liked this series and the characters
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great characters Enjoyed the relationship between Robin and Strike. Looking forward to the next one
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love these books Cant get enough, feels like Im in the book living it as I read
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just as good as the first This was an engaging sequel that gave us greater character development and more of the fantastic relationship Robin and Strike have. I enjoyed this more than the third, as I found it to be less gruesome and more of an engaging mystery.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from No Sophomore Slump Couldn't stop reading this. Didn't know "whodunit" until the book revealed the culprit. Funny, disturbing at times and incredibly smart.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from not as good as the third read- just so you can read the amazing third book!
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Much better than the first I originally read the cucooks calling because it was written by JK Rowling. I didnt Love Cuckoos Calling but I think she really tried harder in this book and it showed. #plumreviews
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from .......Not sure I can't say that i hated, i enjoyed the main character, but i do think there more pages than needed. Took some effort to finish it
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read Wasn't sure what to think when the author was revealed to be JK Rowling, but completely forgot about Harry Potter when I was reading. A good read for a rainy day
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Slow and boring I've always enjoyed British literature, especially mysteries. This lengthy book is a failed attempt to entice the reader into a mysterious murder within the world of publishing.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good but not great a bit predictable, especially if you are really into the detective fiction genre but a fun read nevertheless.
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from liked it! Accidentally bought it from the Bargain books section! really liked it! #plumreview Looking forward to the fourth one!
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Galbraith does it again I know Galbraith is Rolwing, I don't live under a rock. I like how she's changed her writing style to fit her pseudonym. Loving the narrative flow, the story that dives into the workings of the literary world (in a way). Very interesting to read. Good mystery.
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loving the Character Development Galbraith adds depth to his characters that only makes us love then more all while offering a mystery that one cannot help being pulled into.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Such a great continuation to the series. Yet another one I couldn't put down. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing mystery series The main characters are great! Well-written.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you love mysteries You will love this book. Keeps you guessing til the very end
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing & Spell Binding I couldn't put it down. The exciting plot and character development kept me captivated. Great follow up to Cuckoo's Calling. Already looking forward to the next Cormoran Strike adventure.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love this series! The second book is not my favourite of the three (a bit drawn out at times), but don't let that stop you from reading! This series is incredible!
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! Great second book to the series! The relationship between Cormoran and Robin make the story better!
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another great Cormoran Strike In the 2nd Cormoran Strike novel, we find this detective working on the hunt for a missing person. The story is set amongst the literary world and it doesn't disappoint. I enjoyed Cormoran and Robin as their relationship working together in the detective agency strengthens. We are also brought deeper from the first book delving into their backgrounds and personal lives, all the while keeping up with the detecting and trying to solve the case. All the characters are very real and as the mysteries deepen there are many false starts and "red herrings" along the way. I found there were many characters to keep up with along with the stories they had told, and you have to pay attention and not put the book down for too long. This was another beautifully written book set in beautiful London with the weather adding depth into the mystery. Cant wait to read the next one.
Date published: 2016-08-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! I really enjoy the characters and where they go. Cant wait to read the next one.
Date published: 2016-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it. Very good book. Cormoran is a very exciting character to follow! Was very impressed with the detailing of what he was doing, who he was meeting, and how he was cracking the case. Excited to get reading the next in this series.
Date published: 2016-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clever A quck thrilling mystery read that keeps you guessing until the very end. Intriguing main character personality.
Date published: 2015-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Want more, more, more!! Didn't know what to expect with JK's first attempt at adult lit, but very happy with outcome! You either love or hate the character, and it is so easy to get into their world. Great story line and can't wait to read the next one.
Date published: 2015-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cormoran Strikes Again The 2nd book of this series is actually as good as, if not better, than the first. I love it when I actually feel stupid that I couldn't figure it out before the end. Because that means it was not obviously and amateurishly all laid out for us but made the reader think and actively try to keep track of details all along the way. Combine that with vivid charecters. Now you've got something worth your time to read, savour and enjoy. That's what taking the time out of our busy lives to relax and and read a book is supposed to be all about from my point of view.
Date published: 2015-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Oh so very different than writing under her own name, but different in a good way!!! A highly recommended read.
Date published: 2015-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Excellent book. Fast moving and keeps your attention. Can't wait for the next Cormoran Strike novel.
Date published: 2015-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Characters are real and R.G. keeps you turning the page to see how the story unfolds. Gripping, psychological guessing game up to the end.
Date published: 2015-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The silkworm Well woven but too gory at times. Sloppy detective with Charlotte true beauty.Hard to imagine. Same questions to too many people. Still recommand.
Date published: 2015-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silkworm This is JK Rowling every bit as enthralling as the Harry Potter books. I love both of the Robert Gailbraith novels and look forward to more of them as well as the BBC series. Jo Frodsham
Date published: 2015-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! This book was one of the best suspense/thriller/detective/murder books I've read in a long time. I can usually weed out the suspect list and narrow it down to the killer, but I didn't have a clue in this one. I love Cormoran Strike and his sidekick/detective in training, Robin. There is just enough romantic tension around these two to keep things interesting. The writing is so good and the visuals are amazing. This novel is about an author, who is vile and obnoxious and self absorbed. He writes a thinly veiled attack on other authors and publishers and agents, etc. and goes missing. Is it an elaborate publicity stunt or is he afraid of the fallout? It's his wife who hired Cormoran Strike to find him and from there the novel gets better and better. Robert Galbraith uses fictional characters to say a great deal about the publishing industry. I don't know if it's just me, but I thought this book said a lot about how the author feels about it. One passage that struck me was an interview being done with a popular author in the book, "I said that the greatest female writers, with almost no exceptions, have been childless. A fact. And I have said that women generally, by virtue of their desire to mother, are incapable of the necessarily single-minded focus anyone must bring to the creation of literature, true literature." This struck me because the author, Robert Galbraith is a male pseudonym for someone we all know by now is actually J.K. Rowling, a female author. I have to wonder if she has come up against such prejudice in her real life writing. Another quote "But authors are a savage breed, Mr. Strike... If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels." All in all, a great novel and I look forward to reading more of this series. I really hope there are more...
Date published: 2015-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Great read! Exciting, captured interest from the beginning. Love that the main character is not without his own personal challenges. Looking forward to the third book!
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Well known spoiler right off the top here; Robert Galbraith is really J.R Rowling of Harry Potter fame. In both this book and the previous Galbraith, The Cookoo's Calling, she proves that she can handle writing for adults as well as for younger readers. The mystery of the missing man takes place smack in the centre of the writing industry and I wondered how much Rowlings had been poking at some of the less attractive aspects of it. Cormoran and Robin are back again; two well-realized characters. This is good read. I recommend it,
Date published: 2014-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More please I tend to think Cuckoo's Calling might be better but this is no slouch. Quirky "mystery" but the characters are fantastic. Can't wait for more from, ahem, "Robert".
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Suspensful While I think I liked The Cuckoo's Calling better, The Silkworm is still an enjoyable mystery with a great pace, suspenseful plot and great characters. I liked the publishing-centred mystery and Robin's character development (although I find her relationships with Cormoran and Matthew a bit of a snooze - and I can't tell if JKR is aiming for a Robin-Cormoran pairing, which I'm not interested in). A great, fast-paced mystery!
Date published: 2014-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Great book! The ending kept me on the edge, typical JKR, with unexpected turns and twists.
Date published: 2014-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Good book...confusing at times, but kept you guessing to the identity of the killer to the very end
Date published: 2014-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silkworm Brilliantly written. Well defined, interesting characters. The plot has you wondering almost to the end. Could not put it down !
Date published: 2014-10-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A bit slow Overall not a bad book. Found it dragged on for a bit, but it held my attention.
Date published: 2014-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silkwom Great plot, character and scene development.
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Silkwom Great plot, character and scene development.
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silkworm Enjoyed the plot and all the characters and am looking forward to the next one.
Date published: 2014-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good job! Now that I'm used to this authors style of writing I enjoyed it more than the first book!
Date published: 2014-10-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Toooo long "To each his own". This was not my type of book. It was much too wordy an it took me a while to get all the characters straight. Mystery is not my favorite genre, but I've read better
Date published: 2014-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't wait until the next one! I love Robert Galbraith's, aka JK Rowling, writing style. Her character development is outstanding and always draws you in. I have never followed a writer like I do her. She doesn't disappoint!
Date published: 2014-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Didn't want to put it down! In the sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith doesn't disappoint! A real page turner from start to finish. Cormoran Strike is a great character.
Date published: 2014-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a great read I bought this book to read at the cottage. It is an intense read. I really recommend it.
Date published: 2014-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth a read When I heard JKR had been revealed to be writing under a pseudonym I was leery about reading the book since I didn't enjoy A Casual Vacancy. It took me until the release of The Silkworm to buy The Cuckoo's Calling. I was only through the first 1/4 of that before I went out and bought Silkworm. First, this is not a fantasy. Don't go looking for wands or quiddich. You will find an ex-British soldier with an amputation who runs a private investigation firm doing the usual spying on unfaithful lovers, etc. What the author does bring is her excellent ability to write, to get inside a character, to let characters interact realistically and all this in the real world of modern day London. Just because it isn't Harry and Hogwarts doesn't mean it isn't high quality writing. One of the things I especially enjoyed was her treatment of the main character, Strike, and the way he dealt with the everyday treatment of his prosthetic leg. He isn't anyone's superhero and he does a poor job of taking care of it but, knowing others who have daily physical issues, this is so realistic, I liked how she made you want to shake your head at him being such a twit at times yet you don't feel sappy sorry for him either. It is an excellent series so far, really worth picking up. I am glad it is JKR, in a way, because if it was just an unknown guy, we never would have gotten the book in so many formats. I bought the large print and now that I am finished, will donate them to my public library so others can enjoy them too.
Date published: 2014-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very character driven. Very character driven. J. K. Rowling just keeps getting better and better.
Date published: 2014-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Loved it from cover to cover!
Date published: 2014-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even better than The Cuckoo's Calling I read this book in day, and loved it. It's fast-paced, definitely a page-turner. Lots of characters, lots of intrigue, very well done. I enjoyed it even more than The Cuckoo's Calling. Last time, I knew who did it right away, but couldn't figure out how or why, this time, I had no idea. I was kept guessing until the end. The depth of the story, the rich characters and great storyline kept me going until well past my bedtime. Strike, and his assistant Robin, are great characters, very well developed and enjoyable to read. I hope there are more books coming in the series.
Date published: 2014-06-24

Read from the Book

questionWhat dost thou feed on?answerBroken sleep.Thomas Dekker, The Noble Spanish Soldier“Someone bloody famous,” said the hoarse voice on the end of the line, “better’ve died, Strike.”The large unshaven man tramping through the darkness of pre-dawn, with his telephone clamped to his ear, grinned.“It’s in that ballpark.”“It’s six o’clock in the fucking morning!”“It’s half past, but if you want what I’ve got, you’ll need to come and get it,” said Cormoran Strike. “I’m not far away from your place. There’s a—”“How d’you know where I live?” demanded the voice.“You told me,” said Strike, stifling a yawn. “You’re selling your flat.”“Oh,” said the other, mollified. “Good memory.”“There’s a twenty-four-hour caff—”“Fuck that. Come into the office later—”“Culpepper, I’ve got another client this morning, he pays better than you do and I’ve been up all night. You need this now if you’re going to use it.”A groan. Strike could hear the rustling of sheets.“It had better be shit-hot.”“Smithfield Café on Long Lane,” said Strike and rang off.The slight unevenness in his gait became more pronounced as he walked down the slope towards Smithfield Market, monolithic in the winter darkness, a vast rectangular Victorian temple to meat, where from four every weekday morning animal flesh was unloaded, as it had been for centuries past, cut, parceled and sold to butchers and restaurants across London. Strike could hear voices through the gloom, shouted instructions and the growl and beep of reversing lorries unloading the carcasses. As he entered Long Lane, he became merely one among many heavily muffled men moving purposefully about their Monday-morning business.A huddle of couriers in fluorescent jackets cupped mugs of tea in their gloved hands beneath a stone griffin standing sentinel on the corner of the market building. Across the road, glowing like an open fireplace against the surrounding darkness, was the Smithfield Café, open twenty-four hours a day, a cupboard-sized cache of warmth and greasy food.The café had no bathroom, but an arrangement with the bookies a few doors along. Ladbrokes would not open for another three hours, so Strike made a detour down a side alley and in a dark doorway relieved himself of a bladder bulging with weak coffee drunk in the course of a night’s work. Exhausted and hungry, he turned at last, with the pleasure that only a man who has pushed himself past his physical limits can ever experience, into the fat-laden atmosphere of frying eggs and bacon.Two men in fleeces and waterproofs had just vacated a table. Strike maneuvered his bulk into the small space and sank, with a grunt of satisfaction, onto the hard wood and steel chair. Almost before he asked, the Italian owner placed tea in front of him in a tall white mug, which came with triangles of white buttered bread. Within five minutes a full English breakfast lay before him on a large oval plate.Strike blended well with the strong men banging their way in and out of the café. He was large and dark, with dense, short, curly hair that had receded a little from the high, domed forehead that topped a boxer’s broad nose and thick, surly brows. His jaw was grimy with stubble and bruise-colored shadows enlarged his dark eyes. He ate gazing dreamily at the market building opposite. The nearest arched entrance, numbered two, was taking substance as the darkness thinned: a stern stone face, ancient and bearded, stared back at him from over the doorway. Had there ever been a god of carcasses?He had just started on his sausages when Dominic Culpepper arrived. The journalist was almost as tall as Strike but thin, with a choirboy’s complexion. A strange asymmetry, as though somebody had given his face a counterclockwise twist, stopped him being girlishly handsome.“This better be good,” Culpepper said as he sat down, pulled off his gloves and glanced almost suspiciously around the café.“Want some food?” asked Strike through a mouthful of sausage.“No,” said Culpepper.“Rather wait till you can get a croissant?” asked Strike, grinning.“Fuck off, Strike.”It was almost pathetically easy to wind up the ex–public schoolboy, who ordered tea with an air of defiance, calling the indifferent waiter (as Strike noted with amusement) “mate.”“Well?” demanded Culpepper, with the hot mug in his long pale hands.Strike fished in his overcoat pocket, brought out an envelope and slid it across the table. Culpepper pulled out the contents and began to read.“Fucking hell,” he said quietly, after a while. He shuffled feverishly through the bits of paper, some of which were covered in Strike’s own writing. “Where the hell did you get this?”Strike, whose mouth was full of sausage, jabbed a finger at one of the bits of paper, on which an office address was scribbled.“His very fucked-off PA,” he said, when he had finally swallowed. “He’s been shagging her, as well as the two you know about. She’s only just realized she’s not going to be the next Lady Parker.”“How the hell did you find that out?” asked Culpepper, staring up at Strike over the papers trembling in his excited hands.“Detective work,” said Strike thickly, through another bit of sausage. “Didn’t your lot used to do this, before you started outsourcing to the likes of me? But she’s got to think about her future employment prospects, Culpepper, so she doesn’t want to appear in the story, all right?”Culpepper snorted.“She should’ve thought about that before she nicked—”With a deft movement, Strike tweaked the papers out of the journalist’s fingers.“She didn’t nick them. He got her to print this lot off for him this afternoon. The only thing she’s done wrong is show it to me. But if you’re going to splash her private life all over the papers, Culpepper, I’ll take ’em back.”“Piss off,” said Culpepper, making a grab for the evidence of wholesale tax evasion clutched in Strike’s hairy hand. “All right, we’ll leave her out of it. But he’ll know where we got it. He’s not a complete tit.”“What’s he going to do, drag her into court where she can spill the beans about every other dodgy thing she’s witnessed over the last five years?”“Yeah, all right,” sighed Culpepper after a moment’s reflection. “Give ’em back. I’ll leave her out of the story, but I’ll need to speak to her, won’t I? Check she’s kosher.”“Those are kosher. You don’t need to speak to her,” said Strike firmly.The shaking, besotted, bitterly betrayed woman whom he had just left would not be safe left alone with Culpepper. In her savage desire for retribution against a man who had promised her marriage and children she would damage herself and her prospects beyond repair. It had not taken Strike long to gain her trust. She was nearly forty-two; she had thought that she was going to have Lord Parker’s children; now a kind of bloodlust had her in its grip. Strike had sat with her for several hours, listening to the story of her infatuation, watching her pace her sitting room in tears, rock backwards and forwards on her sofa, knuckles to her forehead. Finally she had agreed to this: a betrayal that represented the funeral of all her hopes.“You’re going to leave her out of it,” said Strike, holding the papers firmly in a fist that was nearly twice the size of Culpepper’s. “Right? This is still a fucking massive story without her.”After a moment’s hesitation and with a grimace, Culpepper caved in.“Yeah, all right. Give me them.”The journalist shoved the statements into an inside pocket and gulped his tea, and his momentary disgruntlement at Strike seemed to fade in the glorious prospect of dismantling the reputation of a British peer.“Lord Parker of Pennywell,” he said happily under his breath, “you are well and truly screwed, mate.”“I take it your proprietor’ll get this?” Strike asked, as the bill landed between them.“Yeah, yeah?…”Culpepper threw a ten-pound note down onto the table and the two men left the café together. Strike lit up a cigarette as soon as the door had swung closed behind them.“How did you get her to talk?” Culpepper asked as they set off together through the cold, past the motorbikes and lorries still arriving at and departing the market.“I listened,” said Strike.Culpepper shot him a sideways glance.“All the other private dicks I use spend their time hacking phone messages.”“Illegal,” said Strike, blowing smoke into the thinning darkness.“So how—?”“You protect your sources and I’ll protect mine.”They walked fifty yards in silence, Strike’s limp more marked with every step.“This is going to be massive. Massive,” said Culpepper gleefully. “That hypocritical old shit’s been bleating on about corporate greed and he’s had twenty mill stashed in the Cayman Islands?…?”“Glad to give satisfaction,” said Strike. “I’ll email you my invoice.”Culpepper threw him another sideways look.“See Tom Jones’s son in the paper last week?” he asked.“Tom Jones?”“Welsh singer,” said Culpepper.“Oh, him,” said Strike, without enthusiasm. “I knew a Tom Jones in the army.”“Did you see the story?”“No.”“Nice long interview he gave. He says he’s never met his father, never had a word from him. I bet he got more than your bill is going to be.”“You haven’t seen my invoice yet,” said Strike.“Just saying. One nice little interview and you could take a few nights off from interviewing secretaries.”“You’re going to have to stop suggesting this,” said Strike, “or I’m going to have to stop working for you, Culpepper.”“Course,” said Culpepper, “I could run the story anyway. Rock star’s estranged son is a war hero, never knew his father, working as a private—”“Instructing people to hack phones is illegal as well, I’ve heard.”At the top of Long Lane they slowed and turned to face each other. Culpepper’s laugh was uneasy.“I’ll wait for your invoice, then.”“Suits me.”They set off in different directions, Strike heading towards the Tube station.“Strike!” Culpepper’s voice echoed through the darkness behind him. “Did you fuck her?”“Looking forward to reading it, Culpepper,” Strike shouted wearily, without turning his head.He limped into the shadowy entrance of the station and was lost to Culpepper’s sight.  2How long must we fight? for I cannot stay,Nor will not stay! I have business.Francis Beaumont and Philip Massinger, The Little French LawyerThe Tube was filling up already. Monday-morning faces: sagging, gaunt, braced, resigned. Strike found a seat opposite a puffy-eyed young blonde whose head kept sinking sideways into sleep. Again and again she jerked herself back upright, scanning the blurred signs of the stations frantically in case she had missed her stop.The train rattled and clattered, speeding Strike back towards the meager two and a half rooms under a poorly insulated roof that he called home. In the depths of his tiredness, surrounded by these blank, sheep-like visages, he found himself pondering the accidents that had brought all of them into being. Every birth was, viewed properly, mere chance. With a hundred million sperm swimming blindly through the darkness, the odds against a person becoming themselves were staggering. How many of this Tube-full had been planned, he wondered, light-headed with tiredness. And how many, like him, were accidents?There had been a little girl in his primary school class who had a port-wine stain across her face and Strike had always felt a secret kinship with her, because both of them had carried something indelibly different with them since birth, something that was not their fault. They couldn’t see it, but everybody else could, and had the bad manners to keep mentioning it. The occasional fascination of total strangers, which at five years old he had thought had something to do with his own uniqueness, he eventually realized was because they saw him as no more than a famous singer’s zygote, the incidental evidence of a celebrity’s unfaithful fumble. Strike had only met his biological father twice. It had taken a DNA test to make Jonny Rokeby accept paternity.Dominic Culpepper was a walking distillation of the prurience and presumptions that Strike met on the very rare occasions these days that anybody connected the surly-looking ex-soldier with the aging rock star. Their thoughts leapt at once to trust funds and handsome handouts, to private flights and VIP lounges, to a multimillionaire’s largesse on tap. Agog at the modesty of Strike’s existence and the punishing hours he worked, they asked themselves: what must Strike have done to alienate his father? Was he faking penury to wheedle more money out of Rokeby? What had he done with the millions his mother had surely squeezed out of her rich paramour?And at such times, Strike would think nostalgically of the army, of the anonymity of a career in which your background and your parentage counted for almost nothing beside your ability to do the job. Back in the Special Investigation Branch, the most personal question he had faced on introduction was a request to repeat the odd pair of names with which his extravagantly unconventional mother had saddled him.Traffic was already rolling busily along Charing Cross Road by the time Strike emerged from the Tube. The November dawn was breaking now, gray and halfhearted, full of lingering shadows. He turned into Denmark Street feeling drained and sore, looking forward to the short sleep he might be able to squeeze in before his next client arrived at nine thirty. With a wave at the girl in the guitar shop, with whom he often took cigarette breaks on the street, Strike let himself in through the black outer door beside the 12 Bar Café and began to climb the metal staircase that curled around the broken birdcage lift inside. Up past the graphic designer on the first floor, past his own office with its engraved glass door on the second; up to the third and smallest landing where his home now lay.The previous occupant, manager of the bar downstairs, had moved on to more salubrious quarters and Strike, who had been sleeping in his office for a few months, had leapt at the chance to rent the place, grateful for such an easy solution to the problem of his homelessness. The space under the eaves was small by any standards, and especially for a man of six foot three. He scarcely had room to turn around in the shower; kitchen and living room were uneasily combined and the bedroom was almost entirely filled by the double bed. Some of Strike’s possessions remained boxed up on the landing, in spite of the landlord’s injunction against this.His small windows looked out across rooftops, with Denmark Street far below. The constant throb of the bass from the bar below was muffled to the point that Strike’s own music often obliterated it.Strike’s innate orderliness was manifest throughout: the bed was made, the crockery clean, everything in its place. He needed a shave and shower, but that could wait; after hanging up his overcoat, he set his alarm for nine twenty and stretched out on the bed fully clothed.He fell asleep within seconds and within a few more—or so it seemed—he was awake again. Somebody was knocking on his door.“I’m sorry, Cormoran, I’m really sorry—”His assistant, a tall young woman with long strawberry-blond hair, looked apologetic as he opened the door, but at the sight of him her expression became appalled.“Are you all right?”“Wuzassleep. Been ’wake all night—two nights.”“I’m really sorry,” Robin repeated, “but it’s nine forty and William Baker’s here and getting—”“Shit,” mumbled Strike. “Can’t’ve set the alarm right—gimme five min—”“That’s not all,” said Robin. “There’s a woman here. She hasn’t got an appointment. I’ve told her you haven’t got room for another client, but she’s refusing to leave.”Strike yawned, rubbing his eyes.“Five minutes. Make them tea or something.”Six minutes later, in a clean shirt, smelling of toothpaste and deodorant but still unshaven, Strike entered the outer office where Robin was sitting at her computer.“Well, better late than never,” said William Baker with a rigid smile. “Lucky you’ve got such a good-looking secretary, or I might have got bored and left.”Strike saw Robin flush angrily as she turned away, ostensibly organizing the post. There had been something inherently offensive in the way that Baker had said “secretary.” Immaculate in his pinstriped suit, the company director was employing Strike to investigate two of his fellow board members.“Morning, William,” said Strike.“No apology?” murmured Baker, his eyes on the ceiling.“Hello, who are you?” Strike asked, ignoring him and addressing instead the slight, middle-aged woman in an old brown overcoat who was perched on the sofa.“Leonora Quine,” she replied, in what sounded, to Strike’s practiced ear, like a West Country accent.“I’ve got a very busy morning ahead, Strike,” said Baker.He walked without invitation into the inner office. When Strike did not follow, he lost a little of his suavity.“I doubt you got away with shoddy time-keeping in the army, Mr. Strike. Come along, please.”Strike did not seem to hear him.“What exactly is it you were wanting me to do for you, Mrs. Quine?” he asked the shabby woman on the sofa.“Well, it’s my husband—”“Mr. Strike, I’ve got an appointment in just over an hour,” said William Baker, more loudly.“—your secretary said you didn’t have no appointments but I said I’d wait.”“Strike!” barked William Baker, calling his dog to heel.“Robin,” snarled the exhausted Strike, losing his temper at last. “Make up Mr. Baker’s bill and give him the file; it’s up to date.”“What?” said William Baker, thrown. He reemerged into the outer office.“He’s sacking you,” said Leonora Quine with satisfaction.“You haven’t finished the job,” Baker told Strike. “You said there was more—”“Someone else can finish the job for you. Someone who doesn’t mind tossers as clients.”The atmosphere in the office seemed to become petrified. Wooden-faced, Robin retrieved Baker’s file from the outer cabinet and handed it to Strike.“How dare—”“There’s a lot of good stuff in that file that’ll stand up in court,” said Strike, handing it to the director. “Well worth the money.”“You haven’t finished—”“He’s finished with you,” interjected Leonora Quine.“Will you shut up, you stupid wom—” William Baker began, then took a sudden step backwards as Strike took a half-step forwards. Nobody said anything. The ex-serviceman seemed suddenly to be filling twice as much space as he had just seconds before.“Take a seat in my office, Mrs. Quine,” said Strike quietly.She did as she was told.“You think she’ll be able to afford you?” sneered a retreating William Baker, his hand now on the door handle.“My fees are negotiable,” said Strike, “if I like the client.”He followed Leonora Quine into his office and closed the door behind him with a snap.

Editorial Reviews

"[Galbraith] weaves a pleasurably wicked literary murder mystery with all its attendant aspects of publishing politics, from the peevish to the pompous, into Strike's personal and professional lives....Only two books in, and Galbraith's characters already feel like familiar-and welcome-friends."-Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe