Copy of new ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ novel stolen ahead of release

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"Fifty Shades of Grey," as well as "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades of Freedom," tells the story of Christian Grey, a charming billionaire/S&M fetishist.

LONDON  — A finished copy of a new “Fifty Shades” book told from protagonist Christian Grey’s perspective has been stolen ahead of the novel’s release next week, its UK publisher confirmed Thursday.

Author E.L James announced plans on June 1 to publish the book, “Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian.”

The scheduled release date — June 18 — coincides with the protagonist’s birthday, as devoted fans of the “Fifty Shades” novels may know.

The theft may prompt fears that extracts or details of the book will be leaked ahead of that date.

A statement from the book’s UK publisher, Penguin Random House UK, said: ” ‘Grey’ will be published on June 18th — Christian Grey’s birthday — as planned.

“We can confirm that the Kent police are investigating the theft of a finished copy of E.L. James’s new book ‘Grey.’ We will not be issuing any further statement.”

A spokeswoman for the Kent police, in southeastern England, said officers “are making inquiries after receiving a report that a book had been stolen on June 8.”

The novel is due to be published in the United States by Vintage Books, part of Random House.

James said in a statement posted on her site last week that she had written the book after receiving requests from “thousands of readers” for Christian’s point of view.

“Christian is a complex character and readers have always been fascinated by his desires and motivations, and his troubled past. Also, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, there are two sides to every story,” James said.

Anne Messitte, Vintage Books publisher and James’ editor, was quoted on the website as saying the new book has “all the compelling attributes of its predecessors” and that she was excited for its readers.

The trilogy of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” caught Hollywood’s attention, and the first book was made into one of the most highly anticipated films of 2015. The film starred Jamie Dornan as Christian and Dakota Johnson as his love interest, Anastasia. It’s made more than $166 million since its release on February 14.

The sequel, “FIfty Shades Darker,” is set to arrive in theaters in 2017.

By Laura Smith-Spark