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


Jul 13, 2013

Posted by Melissa Anelli

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. :)

26 Responses to J.K. Rowling’s New Book: Crime Novel Pseudonym Revealed

Avatar ImageLunaLuver says: Well, well, well. This is rather interesting. I hope its better than A Casually Vacancy, which I didnt care for at all. Now watch book sales soar, poor Barnes & Noble wont know what hit them.Avatar Imagehermioneg288 says: Don't really have a desire to read it..I wish she would write a fanstasy or children's novel again...I don't like scary depressing stories about the real world. Avatar Imagehermioneg288 says: fantasy* oops typoAvatar ImageAtticus says: Great! I loved The Casual Vacancy. If JKR is good at anything it's writing about the real world and the people in it. The HP series had a lot of brilliant social commentary that is often overlooked. This is definitely on my "to read" list!Avatar Imageratorr2 says: I had no doubt she'd been writing under a pen name. She would be a fool not to. It was only a matter of time before the truth leaked out. The thing is that she doesn't do it for the money anymore since Harry Potter, she's doing for fun. We all heard years ago that she had plans to write a crime novel and a young kids novel. How else can she get an honest opinion of her book? We all saw what happened when she released a novel under her own name (The Casual Vacancy). Most people rushed out to read it because of who wrote it. Some liked it and many complained that it wasn't Harry Potter. Like The Casual Vacancy, I may look it over but crime fiction isn't really my kind of book.Avatar ImageLady Hawke says: I did not like A CASUAL VACANCY but I'm giving her another chance after reading the reviews on Amazon. My local independent bookstore had one copy and I've had them hold it for me.Avatar ImageMad But Happy says: I liked her last book, so I think I will go grab this one as well. :) It has a good rating on Amazon! Sadly, it's probably going to drop in the next few weeks once the general public finds out she wrote it, and they go leave 1 star reviews without having ever read it. Such is the internet.Avatar Imageakcorr says: Heading out tonight to grab a copy. Hope it's good. Been reading a bunch of Sherlock Holmes books lately so this is right up my alley!Avatar Imageakcorr says: Heading out tonight to grab a copy. Hope it's good. Been reading a bunch of Sherlock Holmes books lately so this is right up my alley!Avatar ImageCatherine says: OMG!!!!!!!!! WHYYYYYYYY!!????? Avatar ImageLa La Toadstone says: I Loved The Casual Vacancy. I'm sorry I don't like crime novels because I would love to read another JKR penned book. Sigh...Avatar ImageCatherine says: BOUGHT IT ASAP!Avatar Imagepotterball says: look she's an author, and you knew that once she moved on from harry potter and because casual vacancy got hammered she probably wanted to do it under a psudeynoum but hey she's not the first author who has done this many other big names also have done it stephen king anyoneAvatar ImageGraymayne says: That would be pseudonym. I have bought Jo's new book after reading the opening pages. I don't usually read crime novels but I do watch plenty of crime TV series. I'm glad that she has a book with unprejudiced reviews because I detest the jealousy that surrounds people who are successful.Avatar Imagelollifant says: This makes me extremely happy and a quick look on goodreads shows an overall praise for the book. I really liked The Casual Vacancy (although it took a long time to get into the book) and I already ordered this one, it's not my usual genre, but I'm very curious. It's nice that she's been able to do this and see some real reviews. And just the fact that she's been writing, yay!Avatar Imagekiwimci says: 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!Avatar ImageWeenyOwl says: 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.Avatar ImageNevilla says: 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.Avatar Imagekiwimci says: 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 adaptationAvatar Imagemuggle..andproudofit says: 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 itAvatar ImageGiant Fairy says: 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 secsAvatar ImageLady Hawke says: 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.Avatar Imagewandmastercalum says: 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...Avatar ImageLoader Lady says: 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.Avatar Imagegaryvc says: 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). Avatar ImageWON_TWO says: @ 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!!!

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