Culture Street


The unmasking of J.K. Rowling

On July 29, 2013

By Sophia Whitfield

Much has been made in the last few weeks of the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. J.K. Rowling was ‘angry’ at being outed by the wife of a former legal representative who commented on the pseudonym to friend on Twitter. The tweets have since been removed.

J.K. Rowling encouraged a generation of readers with her Harry Potter series. She is now writing for older readers, many of whom started out by reading her Harry Potter books. The Casual Vacancy, published in 2012, was her first foray into adult fiction, selling close to half a million copies.

Her writing is traditional beginning with the typical English boarding school theme in Harry Potter, moving on to the politics in a small town complete with parish council (The Casual Vacancy) and now to the classic crime novel. Her writing is quintessentially British. With her latest crime novel she joins the ranks of other female greats such as Agatha Christie and P.D. James.

According to publisher Scott Pack Neilsen Bookscan confirmed The Cuckoo’s Calling had sold 449 copies across UK retailers before J.K. Rowling was outed. Pack said these figures were indeed ‘pretty good’ for a hardback debut novel with no promotion. The book had also received two offers from television companies prior to the leak.

Within 24 hours of J.K. Rowling’s unmasking The Cuckoo’s Calling was number one on the Amazon bestseller list and quickly rose to number one in the UK book charts selling 17,662 copies in seven days. It is understood that several studios are now bidding for the film rights. Warner Bros already has an established relationship with J.K. Rowling through her Harry Potter films. As yet no direct comment has been made about the film rights.

Cormoran Strike is the private investigator at the centre of Rowling’s crime novel. A wounded war veteran he has returned home from Afghanistan to establish his own detective agency. Bills are mounting and with little work coming in his agency as well as his personal life is in disarray.

Strike is thrown a lifeline when Lula Landry, a glamorous model, falls to her death from a Mayfair balcony. Her brother, John Bristow, is not convinced it is suicide; fuelled by his own uncertainty he engages Strike to investigate his sister’s alleged suicide.

Unable to employ permanent staff Strike gets by with hiring temps to assist from time to time. His new temp Robin Ellacott arrives as Strike embarks on an investigation into Lula Landry’s death. The usually painstakingly drawn out office days quickly become full of activity. Robin’s steadiness and eagerness to please complements Strike’s haphazard approach to life. Together they must solve a crime.

It is the characters that are so well drawn in this novel. This is perhaps why two television production companies were already battling it out for rights before the author’s true identity was revealed.

With a complex plot and a bevy of interesting characters The Cuckoo’s Calling is a satisfying read that sets the scene for many more adventures with Cormoran Strike.


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