J.K. Rowling’s second crime thriller, in what seems to be a series in the making, will be out on the stands in June, according to publisher Little, Brown and Company. The Silkworm, under Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith, will be published June 19, featuring protagonist Comoran Strike solving his second case. The novel follows The Cuckoo’s Calling, which sold millions of copies worldwide in 2013, after an unintentional leak revealed that Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling.
In The Silkworm, according to a recently released description, war veteran-turned-private detective Strike is called in to find and bring home novelist Owen Quine, who Mrs. Quine believes has taken off by himself as usual. But the investigation soon spirals into a murder mystery that Strike solves with his assistant Robin Ellacot. The missing novelist has just wrapped up a manuscript that is full of pen portraits of almost everyone he knows. They are venomous in the picture they paint of each person and, if published, may completely destroy lives.
The story progresses to reveal that Quine is found murdered under strange circumstances and now, there are more than a couple of suspects. Rowling, in her expert prose, weaves in multiple motives and alibis into the fabric of the plot, and leaves in clues that are obviously going to be missed till the very end. Little, Brown has pegged Rowling’s second novel in the Cormoran Strike series as a compelling read full of twists and turns the private investigator must navigate to solve his second case.
Referring to her protagonist Strike on Robert Galbraith’s website, Rowling wrote that, through him, she found a way to objectively write about the oddities fame brings. Cormoran Strike, the illegitimate son of a famous man, will go on to solve more mysteries, with Rowling planning to pen an entire series with him in the lead. A complex character, Strike is shown as someone who craved anonymity and found it in the army. In his new life as a private investigator, however, Strike will have to deal with people who made assumptions about him solely based upon his parentage.
While there is little doubt as to how well the book will perform once it is released, it is relevant to note that the first book in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, sold a perfectly acceptable number of copies for debut crime novelist Robert Galbraith. The inadvertent leak of Galbraith’s real identity on Twitter sent book sales soaring, with Amazon registering a whopping 500,000 percent increase in their online sales of Cuckoo. The drama that followed the tweet in question is one of the biggest in recent publishing history, and wound up with Rowling suing the law firm that leaked the classified information. The damages she collected were given to a charity.
With her hopes of writing the crime series under a pseudonym dashed to the ground, Rowling was quoted then as saying it was wonderful to write and publish without any hype or expectations, and that it was pleasurable to receive feedback under a pseudonym. The fact that she sent out her manuscript as Robert Galbraith to multiple publishers (some of whom rejected it for not standing out) silenced anyone wondering if the revealed identity was all part of a preconceived marketing strategy.
Once The Silkworm, where Cormoran Strike solves his second case, is published, J.K. Rowling will discuss her venture as a crime novelist with Val McDermid at a literary festival. The Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival is slated to be held in July in Harrogate, West Yorkshire.
By Aruna Iyer