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J.K. Rowling secretly published a novel in April under a pseudonym

Little, Brown confirmed Sunday that "The Cuckoo's Calling," a well-reviewed crime novel, was secretly written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

The book was written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Another book using that pen name is coming next year.

"The Cuckoo's Calling" was published by Little, Brown imprint Mulholland Books on April 30.

“A reprint of the book is under way and will carry a revised author biography, which reads, ‘Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling,’ ” Reagan Arthur, publisher of Little, Brown, said in a statement. 

Little, Brown confirmed Rowling's authorship of the book after the Sunday Times of London revealed the secret.

Rowling isn't the first high-profile author to take a psuedonymous detour. In the 1970s, bestselling writer Stephen King was so prolific that he secretly began publishing books under the name Richard Bachman. Like Rowling, King was later outed as the author behind the pseudonym.

More recently, Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist John Banville has been writing mystery novels under the name Benjamin Black. His secret was not kept quite so close, and he now appears on the books' dust jackets.

There was much heraldry in 2012 over Rowling's novel "The Casual Vacancy," her first book for adults. A social realist novel far from the magic of Harry Potter, it came under intense -- and not always kind -- critical scrutiny. "Rowling too is casually cruel to her characters, giving them problems they can't surmount and then turning their lives from bad to worse," wrote Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin. The book's flatness, he wrote, was "an emblem of Rowling's inability to engage us, to invest us sufficiently in her characters, young or otherwise, to reckon with the contrivances of her fictional world."

Such was not the case for "The Cuckoo's Calling." Although it saw few reviews in the mainstream press, it received a rave at trade industry magazine Publisher's Weekly, which called it a "stellar debut." The book features down-on-his-luck private eye Cormoran Strike, a veteran who lost part of his leg in the war in Afghanistan, and his female temp/assistant Robin Ellacort. In "The Cuckoo's Calling," they investigate the supposed suicide of a model.

The next book in the Strike series is due next summer.

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Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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