It is being described as the best kept secret in literary history, the latest novel by esteemed author JK Rowling. But you wouldn’t have known it was written by the best-selling writer, as she penned The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.
The crime thriller has not achieved the major triumphs of her previous tomes, which include the amazingly successful Harry Potter novels, only selling an estimated 1,500 copies in hardback, since it was published in April, however, figures compiled by Neilsen Bookscan suggest that the actual number bought from UK retailers was 449.
Of course, once the real author of the book was revealed, the figures rose impressively and on Amazon the book shot up from 5,076th place straight to the top of the sales chart, but Rowling says that this was not the reason she took on the nom de plume in the first place.
The author spoke of the “liberating experience” of writing under an assumed name, and expressed her regret that the secret was now public knowledge: “I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience,” she added. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
The crime novel was supposed to be the debut writing from Galbraith, who had the background of a man who had previously been in the army and worked within the civilian security industry, but it soon provoked suspicion when the literary work proved to be too accomplished for a first novel. As such, the Sunday Times launched an investigation into who the writer really was, and found out that JK Rowling was indeed the author behind the work.
The book had already received much commendations within the literary industry, particularly from fellow crime writers, with well-known and talented authors such as Val McDermid praising the book, describing it as: “the best of traditional mystery fiction, private-eye pace and the kind of writing that reminds me why I love this genre”.
And experienced writer Mark Billingham commenting on detective Strike as “one of the most compelling detectives I’ve come across in years”.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is about a war veteran called Cormoran Strike, who happens to turn into a private detective and his story is described by the publisher as being based on his “own experiences and those of his military colleagues”.
This is Rowling’s second adult fictional novel after her hugely successful Harry Potter books, which earned her an estimated £237m. Her first book was The Casual Vacancy, which was published last October and received mixed reviews. It is thought that JK Rowling is already planning a second Cormoran Strike book, which is set to be released early next year, but as the identity of the author is now known, we expect there will be a lot more interest.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is available to buy at Sainsburys Entertainment for £16.99.