The story depicts the highly complex and competitive world of publishing and the mysterious disappearance of a not so famous writer named Owen Quine. Detective Cormoran Strike is busier than ever. His services are in high demand due to the fact that he managed to solve the Lula Landry murder case when the police dismissed it as a simple suicide. He lives is a small and modest place just above his office. Robin Ellacott is still by his side and helping him despite her fiancees increasing nervousness about her state of employment.
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Almost overnight, Strike becomes the favorite detective of the rich and famous but he doesn't seem to enjoy the fame. One day he is presented with an unusual request from a somewhat eccentric woman named Leonora Quine. She tells Strike in not so many words that her husband is missing and that he should do his best at finding him because she and her daughter, Orlando, need him at home. She also tells him that her husband is a writer and that he has a habit of disappearing from time to time. Leonora also informs Strike that the expenses of finding Owen Quine will be supported by his publisher, Elizabeth Tassel. Leonora thinks that her husband might be in a writer's retreat but she also reports that some woman asked her about Owen's whereabouts and also filled her mailbox with dog poop.
Strike is very intrigued and he starts digging for information hoping to find Owen Quine alive and well. To his amazement, no one seems to know or care about Owen's disappearance. Elizabeth Tassel, Owen's old friend and publisher and Christian Fisher, a young man and also a publisher tell Strike that Owen wrote a very upsetting book in which he depicted in vivid colors and grotesques metaphors the secrets of his fellow colleagues, writers, publishers, lovers and that he even portrayed his own wife in the course of the book. The book is called Bombyx Mori which is the scientific name of the silkworm.
Strike meets Elizabeth Tassel and she tells him that Owen Quine and his former friend, Michel Fancourt, are the co-owners of a house located in Talgarth Road. The house belonged to their other friend, a writer named John North who died of AIDS when he was very young. The house is uninhabited because Owen and Michel hate each other.
Strike decides to visit the abandoned house in Talgarth Road and he finds Owen Quine's body in an advanced state of decay and disfigured by the acid that the killer poured over him and all over the house.
The gruesome scene doesn't seem to impress Strike very much as he starts connecting the dots in order to find Quine's killer and bring justice to his wife Leonora. She becomes immediately the main suspect in her husband's murder but she is much more concerned about her mentally retarded daughter, Orlando, who seems to take her father's disappearance very hard.
Strike focuses his attention on the Bombyx Mori manuscript. He is shocked to discover that Owen Quine's gruesome murder was attentively depicted in his own book. This puzzling detail alerts Strike and he understands that the killer must have read the well conceited manuscript and acted accordingly. He conducts extended interviews with Daniel Chard, the owner of the Ropert Chard publishing house, he meets Michel Fancourt, Owen's former friend and actual nemesis but he doesn't get to any useful conclusions.
One day, Strike notices that he is being followed by a tall woman in a dark cape. He stops and she attacks him with a knife. Strike immobilizes her and forces her to follow him to his office for questioning. He discovers that Owen Quine had a couple of unusual friends, an indie writer and a hermaphrodite. The two women are mad that Owen depicted them in the worst colors in his book.
Finally, Strike understands that Elizabeth Tassel wrote her own version of Bombyx Mori and blamed Owen for the tarnishing of his friends and colleagues. He also finds out that Owen was blackmailing Elizabeth and extorting money from her for a long time and that she decided to end it by killing him.
Elizabeth Tassel is taken in by the police and she admits the facts.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is a mystery novel and it is quite thrilling. The story is quite long but Cormoran Strike is a very enjoyable character. I liked walking along him, assisting to his interviews and trying to deduce his next move. The guessing game is interesting but the author gives away very little along the story.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is the one where Strike exposes Elizabeth Tassel for the killer that she is. She tries to deny everything but he keeps pouring out his conclusions. It's like releasing the pressure from a balloon and finally finding out who and why and for what purpose the killer committed such a gruesome act.
Opinion about the main character:
I like Cormoran Strike because he is relentless in his work, He can't stop until he discovers the killer. He traipses along London and you can't stop feeling sorry for him because he seems so tormented by his work.