It Turns Out That ‘The Year Of The Locust’ Isn’t The Only Book Terry Hayes Released in 2024


Mystery solved.

For those unaware, speculation surrounding the identity of “first-time” author Elly Conway has run rampant in recent weeks. Conway, portrayed by actress Bryce Dallas Howard in the new action film Argylle, is a character in the movie, and on-screen, she finds herself in a world of trouble (and high-flying action) when one of her novels begins to play out in real life.

Here’s the logline for the film: “Reclusive author Elly Conway writes best-selling espionage novels about a secret agent named Argylle who’s on a mission to unravel a global spy syndicate. However, when the plots of her books start to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organization, the line between fiction and reality begin to blur.”

Okay, so this is all a little confusing. Stay with me here as I try to break it down . . .

On January 9th, Bantam Press published a novel called Argylle, written by author Elly Conway. On its face, the book was marketed as a companion book to the Matthew Vaughn-directed spy thriller of the same name, which is an Apple Original Film and was acquired for a staggering $200 million dollars. In July of 2021, Deadline was the first to report about the movie, noting that Vauhh was attached to direct and produce an all-star cast of actors such as Samula L. Jackson and Henry Cavill. At the time, Vaugn claimed that the inspiration for the film was rooted in his excitement for a manuscript he read that he believed would “reinvent the spy genre” and was “most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming’s books of the ’50s.”

That sort of praise for an unannounced book from a first-time author quickly raised eyebrows in the publishing industry. Soon, people were looking into Elly Conway, whose online bio simply reads: “Elly Conway is the author of the debut thriller ‘Argylle,’ the inspiration for the upcoming film of the same name. She lives somewhere in the United States.” With a limited digital footprint and only newly created social media accounts to work from, one thing most agreed on was that Elly Conway was likely a pseudonym. That always made sense. The question was, who was really behind the pen name?

Top theories formed by amateur internet sleuths suggested that “Elly Conway” was either J.K. Rowling or Taylor Swift. I won’t get into all the crazy pin-board theories on why those two were the prime suspects but feel free to type that into Google if you’d like to venture down that rabbit hole.

In any event, the mystery came to an end when The Telegraph cracked the code, revealing that internationally bestseller Terry Hayes (I Am Pilgrim) and Tammy Cohen (When She Was Bad) are the real authors behind “Conway’s” novel.

Vulture summed up the whole thing here:

Here’s what actually happened: Vaughn wanted to make a movie adaptation of Hayes’s I Am Pilgrim; however, MGM had the rights, and “they could not do a deal with Matthew for their own bizarre reasons,” explained Hayes. But Vaughn decided that instead of adapting an existing book he couldn’t get his hands on, he’d ask Hayes to write an accompanying book inspired by a movie in development, Argylle, a book that would be like what Conway would’ve written in the context of the movie. Hayes asked Cohen to co-author the book with him, as he was still working on The Year of the Locust, and Argylle was born.

So there you have it. Mystery solved.

What’s ironic, though, is that Hayes—who first published I Am Pilgrim, an international bestselling novel, in 2013—was often compared to George R.R. Martin, another famous scribe who is known for taking a very long time between releases, because of his own his decade gap between books. Now we know that Hayes wasn’t only focusing on The Year Of The Locust, which just hit bookstores last Tuesday. He also had a hand in Argylle, alongside Tammy Cohen, suggesting that he was far busier than anyone had guessed. For the record, though it was announced initially that Argylle would be the first in a trilogy of books, it remains unclear if the two writers will team up again for another “Elly Conway” thriller in the future.




Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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