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J.K. Rowling's New Book: Crime Novel Pseudonym Revealed

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Melissa
July 13, 2013, 06:43 PM

Like a book by a new crime writer named Robert Galbraith? Well, JK! It was Rowling!

Yep: J.K. Rowling has been publishing crime fiction under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

This is not a drill, guys: there is a new book written by J.K. Rowling available right now. You can have it on an e-reader, even, in a few seconds.

The J.K. Rowling crime novel is The Cuckoo's Calling, by "first-time" writer Robert Galbraith. (The Telegraph has a piece up about this here; The Sunday Times actually broke it.)

The book's true author was revealed by a couple of independent linguistic experts, Peter Millican from Oxford and Patrick Juola from Duquesne University, who were commissioned to JKR's published books as well as The Cuckoo's Calling and some other detective books through a program that could detect similarities.

"It was striking that the Cuckoo's Calling came out significantly closer [in text comparison] to A Casual Vacancy and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than the other [crime] books," Millican said to the Times.

I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer," JKR said, "because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."

If this while crime novel thing sounds familiar, cast your minds back to the 2007 rumor from Ian Rankin that J.K. Rowling was writing a crime novel set in Edinburgh. The author had said his wife had seen JKR "scribbling away in a cafe...writing her Edinburgh detective crime novel." 

At the time, the rumors were quickly dismissed by her entire team, and later Rankin called it a joke that had got out of hand.

The book was released in April and has sold 1500 copies.

It has garnered extremely high praise, with a klatch of favorable reviews, including a starred one from Publishers Weekly and a "Mystery Debut of the Month" from Library Journal. It shares the same agency and editor, the latter of which is odd for debut author. 

Robert Galbraith, says The Cuckoo's Calling's author profile, "was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plainclothes branch of the Royal Military Police. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike [the book's protagonist] grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym." The last line ignited a lot of curiosity about the hit book's real author.

"A remarkably assured debut," said Owen Laukkanen.

As of this writing the book's Amazon page has a scant 20 reviews (the last HP book has 7,463) while its Goodreads page has 80, one reader noting that the novel is a true genre-specific murder mystery, without "the misogynistic, machismo tendencies such novels traditionally have."

"Galbraith's take on contemporary celebrity obsession makes for a grand beach read," said Library Journal. 

The second book in the Galbraith series will be published next year.

Those who know what they're looking for will recognize Rowling's writing from the get go. And she hasn't lost her penchant for names with resonant and sometimes arch meanings: Landry, the victim in the book, who falls to her death on a paved street, means "master of land," while protagonist Cormoran, described as large and scary but tender with his loved ones, is the name of a sea giant from the fairy tale "Jack and the Giant Killer."

You can J.K. Rowling's new book right now! We'll keep updating this piece with info as it comes!



Leaky alert: webmistress Melissa Anelli will be doing a reddit iAMA Q&A session on Wednesday July 17, 5pm Eastern. Chat about this news, Harry Potter, LeakyCon and more. :)

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2408 Points

We don’t have to wait years for another Jo book? Best. News. Ever! My mum told me The Daily Mail said she had written a secret book and I took it with a pinch of salt (The Daily Mail after all). Yeah, yeah, yeah another ghost writer/pseudonym BS story. Then it was on BBC News and Jo had actually confirmed… obviously I didn’t dare believe it before visiting Leaky first. And lo behold… if Melissa says it’s true, it’s true! Now I’m going to have something to read in the queues at Comic-con!

Posted by KiwiMcI on July 14, 2013, 09:28 AM report to moderator
10268 Points

I’ve been thinking all along that JKR would be great at this genre, though it’s not one that I care for usually. Structurally, the HP books are really more detective stories than they are traditional fantasy. A large part of the fun of reading them is keeping an eye out for the tiny clues that she salted throughout the text and trying to piece them together. I well remember the rush of the moment when I figured out the Snape/Lily thing, and suddenly so much that had seemed obscure made perfect sense. I think that mystery fans are also looking for that ‘Aha!’ moment when they can (maybe) catch up with the author and figure out whodunit and why. It takes a certain kind of writing genius to drop the right number of tantalizing hints without making the puzzle too easy to figure out, and JKR definitely has that gift.

Posted by WeenyOwl {The Human Deluminator} on July 14, 2013, 10:40 AM report to moderator
73 Points

I downloaded it on my Kindle. I absolutely hated Casual Vacancy, but Cuckoo’s Calling so far is much much better. I was pretty doubtful about JKR’s non Potter writings after reading Casual Vacancy, but this restores my hope so far that there are a lot of entertaining Rowling offerings yet to come.

Posted by Nevilla on July 14, 2013, 11:57 AM report to moderator
2408 Points

I just want to state for the record, seeing as it is getting so much unnecessary bashing – I LOVED The Casual Vacancy. Krystal Weedon stayed with me long after reading, can’t wait for the adaptation

Posted by KiwiMcI on July 14, 2013, 12:55 PM report to moderator
3006 Points

I saw this on Twitter last night and I kinda screamed >.<
I love crime solve-y stuff, but I’m reluctant to read it because I did NOT like CV at all…
So, I’m going to have to look at reviews before I go out and buy it

Posted by muggle..andproudofit =:) on July 14, 2013, 10:57 PM report to moderator
156 Points

I loved Casual Vacancy, I also found it very “Potter without wand waving”, and when y read " Galbraith" and “Cormoran”, hm….I said yes, obvious, Rowling-style.As I read everything, even the “paper my fish is wrapped in”, i will kindle it in about…….10 secs

Posted by Giant Fairy on July 15, 2013, 05:10 AM report to moderator
245 Points

I’m about 100 pages in and I like it much more than CV. I don’t read crime/detective novels and I’m still enjoying it. The characters are interesting and fun and her descriptions of them and their quirks as they talk and move around remind me of HP.

Posted by Lady Hawke on July 15, 2013, 12:02 PM report to moderator
4138 Points

I have full faith in this book and can’t wait to buy it. Look guys, a lot of Harry Potter had mystery elements to it, which she pulled off very well with great twists. I’m pretty sure this crime novel will be no different. It does make me a little sad that she had to write under a pseudonym just to get real feedback because I’m such a big fan of her writing as well as Harry Potter), which she had shown in CV has greatly improved, and I’d love to know when her new books are released. But, as I can see from some of the comments too, many people can’t let Harry Potter go and so I guess she might have to continue writing under the pseudonym. Time has really moved on…

Posted by Calum Wilson (RuneDream54) on July 15, 2013, 05:43 PM report to moderator
163 Points

I’m hooked. Casual Vacancy was too stark for me. I stopped reading before the sample chapters ran out. I downloaded the sample chapters for The Cuckoo’s Calling, but didn’t start reading until I saw what the Leaky Poll Commentators said about the book. Cuckoo’s Calling drew me in from the first chapter. I’ve been slowing reading/rereading Agatha Christie’s books for the last several years and am enjoying this book just as much. Alas, I have to put the book down right now as I have other things to do.

Posted by Loader Lady on July 17, 2013, 07:30 AM report to moderator
44 Points

I bought the Kindle version of this book as soon as I heard it was by J.R. Rowling. While am a big Harry Potter fan (the only fantasy series I have read since I was a kid in the 1950s), this book was in my comfort zone as I have read at least 100 mysteries set in the UK in the last 18 months. I thought this was a well written book with the two main characters especially likeable (not that common in this genre). My only complaint is that this book is not especially exciting. I think that the author was trying to make the book as realistic as possible. I would not have suspected it was by Rowling had I not known she was the author, although I might have thought it was by a woman. It does have some of what I call “special moments” that were a feature of the Harry Potter books (and sadly lacking from the last 3 movies). Harry fixing his wand is probably the last one.

There were two things in this book that I thought might be references to the Harry Potter universe. One was a company called Albris. The other is a minor villain (who isn’t important and is only mentioned a couple of times) named Fearney. I think this name sounds a bit like Fenrir (Greyback).

Posted by garyvc on July 17, 2013, 12:01 PM report to moderator
80450 Points

@ Lady Hawke I saw elsewhere that you were offered $500 for your 1st edition hardcover copy by Aimee Carter when she saw you had it. It is getting hard to find hc 1st eds… I could not locate one copy anywhere in Maryland or DC… But a friend @ the Norfolk Va. Navy base found some and bought 5 copies for me. I will read a DL’d one on my Kindle & put those hc’s ‘on ice’… lool!!!

Posted by Won_Two on July 17, 2013, 06:02 PM report to moderator
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