Who is Robert Galbraith? The Mystery is Solved!

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

the cuckoos callingThe Daily Telegraph reports that J.K. Rowling has written a crime novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The book was published in April by Sphere in the UK (the same imprint at Little, Brown as her first post-Harry Potter work of fiction, The Casual Vacancy) and by Mulholland Books in the United States. Set in London, the story features a one-legged detective named Cormoran Strike, hired to investigate a supermodel called Lula Landry.

The book received strong reviews, with Booklist calling it “instantly absorbing,” and noting that “Strike bears little resemblance to Jackson Brodie, but Kate Atkinson’s fans will appreciate his reliance on deduction and observation along with Galbraith’s skilled storytelling.” Publishers Weekly raved that “In a rare feat, the pseudonymous Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in his stellar review.”

According to Newsday, “The Sunday Times claimed it was investigating ‘how a first-time author with a background in the army and the civilian security industry could write such an assured debut novel’ when it connected the dots. The paper said clues included the fact that Rowling and Galbraith shared the same agent and editor, and that Little, Brown published Rowling’s novel for adults, “The Casual Vacancy.” It also said the book’s style and subject matter resembled Rowling’s work.”

For her part, Rowling is disappointed that the news has been revealed. At least so soon.

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer,” she told The Times, “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.”

Not only a different name, but an entirely new male persona with a Scottish name, with a biography to match:

“Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.”

And now that the truth has revealed, the BBC report on those brave enough to confess to having rejected “Galbraith’s” manuscript. Kate Mills, fiction editor at Orion Books, admitted she had turned down the crime novel, which she described as “well-written but quiet.” “So, I can now say that I turned down J.K. Rowling. I did read and say no to Cuckoo’s Calling. Anyone else going to confess?” she tweeted.

And also now that the truth has been revealed, sales of the novel have skyrocketed. The “Movers and Shakers” section of Amazon, which charts gains in sales by the hour, says sales of the book are currently up by more than 507,000%.

Rowling plans to continue the series, and a second book is expected to be published next summer. And of course, now that the secret has been revealed, Little, Brown said that The Cuckoo’s Calling will be reprinted with a revised author biography.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.