The Silver Doe: Life Imitates Art

Did someone say, “Expecto Patronum?” Is this a remake of the Silver Doe in the Forest of Dean scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?  

No, it’s a rare albino deer, photographed during today’s snowstorm in Central Virginia. The magical creature was captured on film by Julia Richie and submitted to Charlottesville TV station NBC29’s Weatherpic feature.

Maybe it turned up expecting to attend one of Virginia’s many wizarding festivals?  Has anyone seen any ruby-hilted silver swords lying at the bottom of any nearby ponds? Has Phineas Nigellus Black been blabbing again?

In any case, I challenge any Harry Potter reader to look at this and not think, “Always….”



Piecing Together Cormoran Strike’s Childhood: Could Rokeby be the Snape of the Series?

We know Cormoran Strike had a nomadic childhood, being dragged to squats and other less-than-desireable homes by his free-spirit mother, alternating with more stable periods with his Cornish aunt and uncle when his mother fell too far off the wagon. He can remember attending seventeen different schools; and thinks that may be an underestimate of the total. So far, most of the details we have been provided are from around the ages of 8 to 9.  As I have re-read and re-listened to the series, a couple of questions have popped up:

  1. What happened at the Norfolk commune that made it the worst place Leda had ever taken him?

2. How did the itinerant and poverty-stricken Strike wind up at the same school as Charlie Bristow, son of a “Sir” and a “Lady?”

Reconstructing Strike’s childhood involves piecing together items from multiple books, and, just for fun, I’ll throw in some hints from the TV series as well. I’ll also assume the author is being careful with her dates, which is by no means a given. Adding a generous dose of my own speculations leads me to rethink what role Jonny Rokeby might eventually play in the series.  [Read more…]

The BBC’s Career of Evil: Hits, Misses and Clues to the Future of the Series?

This post began as a comment on the Career of Evil TV series post, but ballooned to something longer than I had anticipated. So, at the request of our Headmaster, I’m re-posting it as a post of its own, with a few expansions. 

This TV adaptation was probably the most butchered book of the lot so far, in terms of leaving things out. The BBC needs to devote at least 3 episodes to do one of these novels justice, which is why I am very glad to hear the Lethal White will be four episodes.

The neuroscientist in me was most disappointed in the dropping of the Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) plot line in favor of  the much simpler “Kelsey has a crush on Cormoran” angle. I assume this move was made both to save time and to avoid accusations of insensitivity that would arise from having our hero call people suffering with this genuine neurological disorder “nutters” on screen. Although, if you pause at the scene of Strike reviewing his fan site, you can see the screen name “NowhereToTurn” and “I heard he did it himself” message. The “schoolgirl crush” approach also put more emphasis on the killer’s efforts to set Strike up as a suspect, and made the Met much more inclined to accept that as a possibility.

But that was just the beginning of the cuts that were made to Strike3 — not to mention the changes and flat-out additions that point to possibilities in coming novels.

[Read more…]

Charlotte Campbell: The Broodmare of Lethal White?

It would not be a J.K. Rowling–or Robert Galbraith–novel without doppelgangers, echos and inversions. With horses popping up all over Lethal White, we should expect multiple equine connections to characters. And we see plenty, overwhelmingly female: Ilsa, delighted over her Olympic dressage tickets, Robin, the former pony-rider who knows the nuances of equine coat color terminology, Tegan. the stablehand turned racecourse worker.

But the most obvious horsewoman in the text is Kinvara, who, after the tragic stillbirth of her own baby, seems to have thrown herself into breeding the finest horses possible. Despite owning at least two stallions herself–which she unwisely keeps in the same field–she apparently has repeatedly begged her husband to spend money he can ill afford on stud fees to impregnate her favorite mare, Lady. Unfortunately, Lady’s death from laminitis ended that plan, even if Jasper had been persuaded to cough up the funds.

But there is another “Lady” in the text who appears to have been successfully “put in foal”– Strike’s ex-fiance, Charlotte Campbell. I’ll examine Charlotte’s pregnancy, and argue that her condition echos and inverts that of Kinvara’s broodmare, after the jump.

[Read more…]

Science in Cormoran Strike: Narrative misdirection or plain old error? Part 2: Pharmacology.

Strike was familiar with the behavior of heroin addicts; he had met plenty at the last squat his mother had lived in. The drug rendered its slaves passive and docile; the absolute antithesis of shouting, violent alcoholics, or twitchy, paranoid coke-users. Strike had known every kind of substance-abuser, both inside the army and out. The Cuckoo’s Calling, p. 165

The principal lesson that Strike had learned during his two months of home-based education was that cannabis, even if administered spiritually, could render the taker both dull and paranoid.The Cuckoo’s Calling, p. 64

We have known from the beginning that Cormoran Strike is familiar with substance abuse, having lived it with Leda and policed it in the SIB. Thus, it is not too surprising he immediately recognizes Lady Bristow as addicted to sleeping pills (specifically, Valium) when he visits her deathbed.

“Could you please look in that drawer,” she whispered, pointing a withered finger at the bedside table, “and get me out my pills?” Strike slid it open and saw many white boxes inside, of varying types and with various labels upon them. “Which…?” “It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same,” she said. He took one out; it was clearly labeled Valium. She had enough in there to overdose ten times.

Later, he speaks to her nurse:

“Her Valium addiction’s as bad as ever, then?” he said. Unsuspicious, trusting, the nurse smiled a tolerant smile. “Yes, it is, but it can’t hurt her now. Mind you,” she said, “I’d give those doctors a piece of my mind. She’s had three of them giving her prescriptions for years, from the labels on the boxes.” “Very unprofessional,” said Strike.

It surprised me, therefore,  to see the Doom Bar Detective make a rookie error in his lengthy exposition of the crime to John Bristow. He tells the the client/perpetrator,  “Your mother hardly knows what day it is, the amount of opiates she’s got in her system.The trouble is, Valium is not an opiate. Why is this important?  I’ll tell you after the jump. [Read more…]