Cormoran Strike: Silkworm Excerpts Available Online

J. K. Rowling’s detective series featuring private dick Cormoran Strike, a veteran of the Afghan waR and illegitimate son of aN aging rock star, has a new entry on 18 June, namely, The Silkworm. USA Today published an excerpt online this morning, what seems to be the first two chapters (expletives deleted), and I confess, it was good enough a tasting that I broke down and finally ordered an advance copy.

What’s it all about? From the book summary at Amazon:

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.

Three quick notes:

(1) My advance copy was ordered at my local bricks-and-mortar bookstore. No, I haven’t suddenly become righteous about online purchases and, no, my favorite store won’t be having a Midnight Madness celebration to hand out copies to the Rowling Faithful at the strike of the hour opening the day of publication. It’s just that Amazon and the publisher are having a little disagreement. Who would have ever thought that Ms Rowling and her publisher, given their egregious history of copyright protection heavy-handedness, could play the role of David in a ‘versus Online Goliath’ story? Having been roughed up by Amazon myself as an independent publisher, I can only wish Hachete Group the best in this struggle.

(2) The Silkworm is the second of what Ms Rowling promises will be a seven book series. When do we begin to chart the ring composition echoes? Each book or in the parallel books of the series? Rhetorical question, of course.

(3) Insert obligatory observation that I wouldn’t be interested in this title almost certainly if it I didn’t know it was written by the “world’s best selling author” (c).  The voice is hers, however, and it is a delight.

Links to online stories mentioned above can be found after the jump. Hat tip to James!

USA Today Silkworm Excerpt

Cormoran Strike Series to be Seven Books Long

Why Amazon isn’t Taking Advance Order for The Silkworm

Silkworm Amazon page

TIME: 3 Revelations From Excerpts


  1. Chris Calderon says

    Mr. Granger,

    (1) First, let me just say, as someone who’s kept tabs on the whole eBook debacle, that I hope you haven’t been hit too hard by these price games. One of the problems of this monopolizing of book publishers is that it threatens to pretty much ruin the whole fundamental structure of the industry. It’s so easy to turn this into a screed, and I hope I’m not ranting, however I wonder if anyone at amazon even knows that these business practices of theirs can actually wind up bankrupting not just them, but also the whole book industry.

    Whereas the pre-digital model of publishing left plenty of room for healthy competition between authors and booksellers, both chain stores and indies, this conglomeration of the practice runs the risk of trying to turn books into the market equivalent of happy meals, third-rate knock offs of works like Rowling, however with none of the skill and effort put into them. What worries me is that Amazon may try to force publishers into this route, focusing solely on Brand Names, while meanwhile other authors will have to struggle on an indie circuit that provides little recompense in terms of economic or creative incentive.

    An author may figure, if the publishing industry doesn’t even want people to write real books with actual stories in them, why bother to write at all. If people like Bezos and Amazon are allowed by the courts to breed that kind of mindset, it could cause problem further down the road. Bezos could easily bankrupt himself, and the publishing industry along with him. Sorry if that was a rant. It’s just something I’ve been concerned about for a while.

    (2) I can’t say I know whether Ms. Rowling will try the idea of introducing alchemical symbolism into the Detective/Mystery genre, and I don’t even know whether that’s a novel or original idea with just her, or whether writers like Conan Doyle and Chesterton attempted the same thing with their books. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if she does do just that.

    (3) I’m afraid there’s been no pseudonym unmasking that I know of, lately, the latest I know about is Ms. Rowling herself when she admitted there really is no Robert Galbraith. I don’t have much more of anything to add, really. Except that there is one quote from Raymond Chandler that I find intriguing in terms of what Ms. Rowling’s current work in noir fiction.

    Chandler once said, “In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption.” It’s from an essay “The Simple Art of Murder”, and Chandler’s main gist seems to be the artistic goal of bringing what might be called the “Moral Imagination” (the phrase is Edmund Burke’s) to the genre of Noir fiction; Chandler also admits it can be an uphill struggle in a genre primarily concerned with the seedier side of life. Yet even there, Chandler seemed determined to find something salvageable in the gutter.

    Chandler’s essay can be found here (he has some nice things to say about Jane Austen, and some trenchant comments about “Snob Appeal” in lit. crit. circles):

    It would be interesting to find out whether or not Ms. Rowling could re-introduce that Moral Imagination into modern Detective fiction.

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