So, the culprits for the leak of the true identity of Robert Galbraith, in a shocking twist worthy of any crime novel, have been revealed as London law firm Russells Solicitors.
I always doubted that J K Rowling or her publishers could be involved in such a move. As well them being class acts, it just didn’t seem that anyone who knows anything about the book industry would come up with the notion that a debut could be "suspiciously good". Only a civilian, I thought, someone not well aware of how many brilliant debuts don’t ever sell well, could come up with that.
What is hugely ironic here is that so much of The Cuckoo's Calling is about dealing with the perils of fame. The besieged heroine Lula tests her friends by giving them different bits of fake gossip to see which of them is feeding stories about her to the tabloid press. J K Rowling says that it has not been pleasant to wonder how a woman she’d never heard of knew a secret she hadn’t told to many of her closest friends.
This is art becoming life at super speed.
Rowling often savages the press in her novels: Rita Skeeter is the hideous tabloid hack in the Harry Potter series and The Cuckoo’s Calling is full of unappealing portrayals of both paparazzi and their paymasters. I don’t recall that lawyers get much of a slating—but that could all be about to change. I’ll be keeping my eye out for a well-packaged debut where the murderer is the lawyer’s wife’s best friend.
Cathy Rentzenbrinck is The Bookseller's fiction previewer