By Raylyn Bowers
J.K. Rowling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, released her first crime fiction novel this April. Before Rowling was discovered as the true writer of A Cuckoo’s Calling, the author sold 8,500 copies of the book, it reached No. 1 on the UK audio book charts and it received two offers from television production companies. In only three months, as Galbraith, Rowling became a successful crime writer, comparing favorably to her success with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
After finding out Rowling had written under a pseudonym, I was curious to find out why. Reading the FAQs on the Robert Galbraith website helped me to better understand her decision. I assumed, just like everyone else, that her agent convinced her to write under a fake name, then have her true identity “leak” to the press. If we want to believe what is on the website, we all were wrong in our assumption.
“My plan to write under a pseudonym was of long standing, and while I did not have the time I had hoped for, it was wonderful while it lasted,” Rowling said. “I enjoyed a long period of writing and researching without pressure or expectation, and it was wonderful to receive feedback from publishers, reviewers and readers under a different name.”
As a Harry Potter fan myself, I can understand why Rowling would write under a different name. A Cuckoo’s Calling is in no way connected to the Harry Potter series. This book was written for an adult audience. I cannot deny that there definitely is a similar writing style, but there are no witches or wizards in her newest novel.
A Cuckoo’s Calling is a world full of real people with real problems. Whereas in Harry Potter, she creates a magical world that readers are able to escape to, in A Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling writes a realistic crime novel.
Her main character, Cormoran Strike, is a war veteran who lost his leg in a land mine in Afghanistan. When he was discharged, he moved back to London and opened up shop as a private investigator. We meet him right after he breaks up with his longtime girlfriend. He is living in his office, has no money and has only one client.
John Bristow, brother of Lula Landry, a famous model, provides Strike with a chance to gain financial stability. His sister fell from her apartment window late one night. The accident was ruled a suicide, but Bristow refuses to believe that. Now Strike must dive into a world full of multimillionaire models, rock star boyfriends and desperate designers in hopes that he can save his business from financial ruin, clear up Landry’s name and maybe not lose himself in the process.
Robin, a temporary secretary sent to work for Strike, has hidden her lifelong ambition to engage in detective work from everyone, even her fiancé. However, she is less than impressed by Strike. She originally finds him surly and unsympathetic, and he is determined not to become overly fond of the new secretary. These two form an unlikely friendship that you can’t help but be intrigued by.
If you are looking for Rowling’s magical world of Harry Potter, this is not the book for you. However, if you are willing to pick up a book written by J.K. Rowling and accept the fact that this is a novel written for adults, with adult themes, then grab your book, a cup of coffee and curl up on the couch to enjoy this wonderfully written crime novel.
(Editor’s note: J.K. Rowling also has written a novel for adults under her own name, The Casual Vacancy, published in 2012.)