By Sam Bertschmann
J.K. Rowling has your summer beach reading covered.
Robert Galbraith — or rather, Harry Potter author Rowling using Polyjuice Potion — has written a sequel to last April’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, which will be released in the U.K. on June 19 and in the U.S. on June 24. The Silkworm is the second in Rowling’s latest series, which stars gruff detective Cormoran Strike and his resourceful assistant, Robin Ellacott.
In The Cuckoo’s Calling, Strike and Robin investigate the mysterious death of supermodel Lula Landry, which was initially ruled a suicide but thought to be more sinister by her brother, John Bristow, who hires Strike to uncover the truth.
Mulholland Books released the following plot description for The Silkworm this past Monday:
“When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days — as he has done before — and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives — meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.”
When Little, Brown — who published Rowling’s first post-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, in 2012 — released The Cuckoo’s Calling, Galbraith was said to be a retired Royal Military Police investigator who had worked in the civilian security industry since 2003.
Galbraith’s true identity remained a secret for several months following the book’s publication. Last July, Sunday Times Arts Editor Richard Brooks received an anonymous tip that Galbraith was actually Rowling’s pseudonym. After determining that Galbraith’s debut was too good to have been written by a novice and sending The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Casual Vacancy and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to computer linguistic experts for comparison, Brooks felt confident that he had discovered Rowling’s secret and contacted one of the author’s spokespeople for confirmation.
The anonymous source was later revealed to be an acquaintance of one of Rowling’s lawyers. Rowling had reportedly hoped to keep her secret a little longer, having enjoyed the anonymity of her alter ego.
Even before Rowling was unmasked, The Cuckoo’s Calling received rave reviews from critics.
Publishers Weekly praised Galbraith’s “stellar debut,” commending the novel’s “host of vividly drawn suspects and witnesses.” Geoffrey Wansell of The Daily Mail aptly remarked that “there is no sign whatsoever that this is Galbraith’s first novel.” Ron Weasley described the book as “bloody brilliant.”
Since concluding the Harry Potter series seven years ago, Rowling has kept busier than Hermione in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Warner Bros., the studio that brought all seven Harry Potter novels to the big screen, approached Rowling years ago about producing a film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, required reading for Hogwarts students. Excited by this idea, Rowling decided to write the script herself, marking her screenwriting debut. The film will focus on Fantastic Beasts author Newt Scamander and will be set roughly a century before the beginning of Harry’s story. In a recent interview conducted by Potter actress Emma Watson for Wonderland magazine, Rowling revealed that she wrote the first draft of Fantastic Beasts in only 12 days.
Rowling is also slated to co-produce a theatrical Potter prequel, which will chronicle Harry’s miserable childhood with the Dursleys, with Sonia Friedman (The Book of Mormon) and former HBO Films President Colin Callender. The play will premiere in London’s West End.
How does she manage it all? I’m not saying she is using a Time Turner, but I’m not saying she isn’t.
While I will always hold out hope for an eighth Harry Potter book, I am excited about these upcoming projects. Everything she creates is gold as galleons.