JK Rowling’s next novel includes a shady journalist and a not-so-subtle attack on phone-hacking.
The Harry Potter author’s second crime thriller, written under her pen name Robert Galbraith, will draw upon her own experiences of giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry after suffering press intrusion.
The storyline of The Silkworm begins with private detective Cormoran Strike supplying details to a journalist of a scandalous affair between a member of the House of Lords and his secretary.
A first chapter scene sees the journalist ask Strike how he persuaded the woman to talk to him. “I listened,” he replies, prompting the reporter to hit back: “All the other private dicks I use spend their time hacking phone messages.”
Strike also warns that phone-hacking as “illegal”, making Rowling’s own strong feelings on the matter explicitly clear.
The new book, set for a 19 June release, follows Strike as he hunts down a killer who has murdered novelist Oscar Quine.
He discovers a manuscript in which many of Quine’s associates are portrayed unflatteringly, to the extent that their lives would have been ruined had the work been published – a possible motive.
Rowling’s first Galbraith novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was published last year to critical acclaim.
She wanted her real identity to remain a secret so as to be free from preconceptions, but her confidentiality was breached by her solicitor.
When news of the betrayal hit headlines, The Cuckoo’s Calling shot to the top of book charts. The British writer later accepted a substantial donation to charity from the firm as an apology for the leak.