Random House discovered that a copy of E L James‘ highly anticipated novel was missing on Monday in Kent, England, and contacted authorities amid fears that the thieves would leak the book online in advance of its June 18 publication.
“We can confirm that the Kent police are investigating the theft of a finished copy of E L James’ new book,” a spokeswoman for the publisher tells PEOPLE.
“We cannot go into further details as it may form part of the investigation,” a Kent police spokesman adds. “It could have been in a warehouse, or traveling to a warehouse or from a warehouse. So we need establish where the theft occurred.”
Titled simply Grey, the book is a new version of the bestselling erotic romance, this time told from Christian Grey’s point of view.
“Christian is a complex character,” said James in a press release, “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. It’s been a great pleasure to return to my happy place-writing, being with Christian and Ana in their universe, and working with the fantastic team at Vintage.”
• Reporting by PHILIP BOUCHER