I can quite happily confess to having loved Robert (or JK Rowling, I must admit I always think of the author as JK Rowling and can never remember to surname of her pseudonym off the top of my head) first novel, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’. I very sneakily convinced my mother that she would really enjoy ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ when it first came out, got her to buy it, and then proceeded to read it before she did. Luckily for me she did like it. Enough so that it was easy for me to convince her to buy ‘The Silkworm’ when it came out as well.
Real literary critics will probably tell me that these novels aren’t particularly unique, but to me it felt like a completely unique writing style, which is again very recognisable in this second novel.
Essentially I love the narrative voice in both these novels. In my mind they have been placed in the compartment in my head that also contains ‘Wuthering Heights’. Which may seem a strange compartment to put it in, but this is the compartment in my head where I don’t love the books because of their characters, or the scenery, or because it has a great plot. The first and foremost reason I love these books is because I fall head over heels in love with the narrative voice.
Both ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ and ‘The Silkworm’ did that for me. I adore the descriptions of people, places and emotions. Things like voices, or the shape of peoples mouths, their awkward mannerisms. And the characters are just so intensely imperfect. I don’t particularly love any of the characters, but I am completely in love with how JK Rowling describes them. Plus JK Rowling has somehow completely nailed how to have characters with backstories and weave those backstories into the narrative.
With some novels it so easily feel like characters have just sprung into being and their backstories only contain information very directly relevant to movement of the plot and little about what actually made the people the way they are. JK Rowling’s backstories are woven in so perfectly subtly and are so unbelievable human. I want to step out of the novel and meet these people at a fish and chip shop or at the pub. The writing is just so alive!
Completely apart from that, the polt-line for both ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ and ‘The Silkworm’ are rather genius and they are great crime novels, full of clues and questions and wondering ‘whodunnit’. So if you like a good crime novel, I strongly recommend this series. As I have pointed out to my mother, book number 3 comes out in October! It is going to be her Christmas present this year.