Sunday 14 July 2013
JK Rowling's secret bestseller: The Cuckoo’s Calling, by 'Robert Galbraith'
Crime novel won universal praise from critics when it came out in April
JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, secretly penned a crime novel which became a rave-review bestseller without readers realising she had written it.
The Cuckoo’s Calling, a story about the mysterious death of a model falling from a balcony which is probed by a war veteran turned private investigator, won universal praise from critics when it came out in April.
It was released by Sphere, part of the Little Brown publishing, and marked as a debut novel from ‘Robert Galbraith’.
Ms Rowling told the Sunday Times that she had hoped the true identity behind her pen name ‘Robert Galbraith’ would have been concealed for longer.
“Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience,” she said. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
The book’s listing on Little Brown’s website confirms that Galbraith is a pseudonym. The biographical details say the writer spent seven “several years with the Royal Military Police”.
The 450 page novel has been likened to the works of prolific crime fiction writers Ruth Rendell and PD James.
Ms Rowling was under pressure after the worldwide success of the seven Harry Potter stories when she published her novel for an adult audience, The Casual Vacancy, last year.
It received a mixed critical reception, but claimed good sales and has been chosen for a BBC adaptation.
Before Rowling's identity was revealed, 1500 copies of the book had been sold since its release in April 2013. According to the online outlet of New Statesman, the book surged from 4,709th to the 3rd best selling novel on Amazon after it was revealed on 14 July 2013 that the book was written by Rowling under the nom de plume of Robert Galbraith, rising from 30,486th on the Amazon best sellers ranking in general earlier that day to claim the #1 spot.
The book received almost universal critical acclaim despite not being a huge commercial event. The website of The Independent states that the book "became a rave-review bestseller without readers realising she had written it."
On the social reading website Goodreads, the novel has a rating of 4 out of 5, indicating almost completely favourable reviews for the book from a total of 82 votes and 36 reviews. The readers on the website call it "a mature, realistic take on an often-done genre" with "some of the most endearingly likeable characters in the genre."
Publishers Weekly said that the novel combined "a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime" to make a "stellar debut."