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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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20981 Points

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.

Posted by LunaLuver on July 13, 2013, 07:02 PM report to moderator

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.

Posted by hermioneg288 on July 13, 2013, 07:21 PM report to moderator

fantasy* oops typo

Posted by hermioneg288 on July 13, 2013, 07:22 PM report to moderator
65 Points

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!

Posted by Atticus on July 13, 2013, 07:28 PM report to moderator
4967 Points

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.

Posted by Ratorr on July 13, 2013, 07:31 PM report to moderator
245 Points

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.

Posted by Lady Hawke on July 13, 2013, 08:06 PM report to moderator
452 Points

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.

Posted by Mad But Happy on July 13, 2013, 08:54 PM report to moderator
229 Points

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!

Posted by akcorr on July 13, 2013, 09:19 PM report to moderator
229 Points

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!

Posted by akcorr on July 13, 2013, 09:19 PM report to moderator
3455 Points

OMG!!!!!!!!! WHYYYYYYYY!!?

Posted by Catherine ( *SQUEE!*) on July 13, 2013, 10:33 PM report to moderator
5723 Points

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…

Posted by La La Toadstone =:) on July 13, 2013, 10:45 PM report to moderator
3455 Points


Posted by Catherine ( *SQUEE!*) on July 13, 2013, 10:47 PM report to moderator
107 Points

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 anyone

Posted by potterball on July 14, 2013, 02:13 AM report to moderator
925 Points

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.

Posted by Graymayne on July 14, 2013, 03:31 AM report to moderator
190 Points

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!

Posted by lollifant on July 14, 2013, 04:55 AM report to moderator
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