MuggleNet Academia: Cormoran Strike and the Invisibility Cloak – Happy Birthday, Harry Potter and Jo Rowling!

Cuckoo 1JKR hits the big Five-Oh today, Harry turns 35, and MuggleNet Academia rolls out its first show devoted to the elephant in the common room, Cormoran Strike, the Doom Bar Detective. What do these mysteries tell us about Harry Potter? About Jo Rowling as a writer? Are they a key, as the books suggest, to what the author thinks her previous books meant? Who are the bad guys of these books — and are they bad enough that Rowling chose to write under another name to avoid their wrath?

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611Dolores Gordon-Smith, accomplished mystery maven and author of the Jack Haldean ‘Golden Age’ detective thrillers, and Karen Kebarle, English professor at Algonquin College and Potter Pundit, join Keith Hawk and me in a discussion of my paper ‘Five Reasons Jon Rowling Didn’t Want You to Know She Writes the Cormoran Strike Mysteries’ (you can download that provocative essay here).

It’s a rollicking, free-wheeling back and forth between serious readers about the new books by the best selling author of our times, of all time. Give it a listen, read the free pdf, and let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!

The Five Reasons Jo Rowling Didn’t Want You to Know She Writes the Cormoran Strike Mysteries

2013Happy Birthday, Jo and Harry!

To celebrate JKR’s 50th and Harry’s 35th, Keith Hawk and I invited Karen Kebarle of Algonquin College in Ottawa and Dolores Gordon-Smith, author of the Jack Haldean mysteries, to do something different on MuggleNet Academia, namely, discuss the Cormoran Strike detective novels. At last — and at length and in depth!

GalbraithTo focus our discussion I wrote up a 17 page argument detailing the five reasons why our birthday girl decided to write her mysteries under a pseudonym. You can download that paper here. I’ll post a link to MuggleNet Academia for our animated back-and-forth about where I’m right (and where our guests think I’m off the road and in the ditch upside-down!) as soon as Keith has finished his edits and added the theme songs.

Again, Happy Birthday, Jo, Harry, and fandom!

New Cormoran Strike Novel Details: Plot, Publishing Dates for ‘Career of Evil’

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611The plot and publishing dates of J. K. Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike novel, Career of Evil,  were announced today at Robert As predicted in talks I gave at the Chestnut Hill and MISTI-Con gatherings, Career will almost certainly be the book that triggers the tsunami of readers to the series — as Prisoner of Azkaban did for the Hogwarts Saga. Read on for details!


“Little, Brown Book Group today announced that the next Cormoran Strike crime novel by Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil, is to be published on 20th October in the US, and 22nd October 2015 in the UK. Little, Brown also revealed the cover for the third book in the series, and further details about the story.


“When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.


“With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…


Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.”


The title, Career of Evil, is from a Patti Smith song that Smith wrote for Blue Oyster Cult. You can listen to the song here, if you like. Scroll down past the anti-Semitism bit… Who knew Smith hated Jews? I knew Rowling was a big fan of The Smiths (even dressing up like them and wearing the heavy eye liner make-up) – but Patti Smith?

Anyway, because the Strike mysteries are written in parallel with their numeric counterpart in the Hogwarts novels — I kid you not — we can expect that Career of Evil will be about the mysterious underworld informant that has played significant parts in both Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. His role in the second book was to get Cormoran a job interview with a mobster as an enforcer. Cormoran accepts 500 Pounds from the Godfather to break a client’s son’s arm, i.e. to send a message, which, of course, Cormoran does not do. Unfortunately, he also spends the 500 pounds and doesn’t get around to repaying it.


I think we can be pretty sure that the bad guy takes this out on both Cormoran and his friend for having deceived him. The Doom Bar Detective has had his picture in the papers often enough that the tech mafioso realizes he was set up as well as short changed. Hence the severed leg — a pointer to Strike’s infirmity, to the horse’s head of The Godfather, and to violence against women, a Rowling thematic touchstone.

The mystery figure is an echo of Sirius Black in Prisoner of Azkaban and we should expect, as was the case of Harry’s third year adventures, a good deal of narrative release, back-story hinted at in the first two books that will be the substance of the drama in the next four mysteries. Which is to say, more on Rokeby, Lida Strike, Cormoran’s Army career and the accident that cost him a leg, and, hurrah, why Robin left University and is beholden to her tosser of a fiancee.

It promises to be great — and, yes, we’ll be discussing it here at Hogwarts Professor in great detail in the months between now and the October release. Can you say ‘Midnight Madness’? The mania returns…

Joanne Rowling’s Testimony About Intrusive Press (2011)

This is important background information for the treatment of reporters in both the Hogwarts Saga and the Cormoran Strike novels. Ms Rowling’s anger and sense of violation is right out there — and seeing this video of her testimony has made me take much more seriously the possibility that her story take-down of a cynical press corps will play a much larger role in her mysteries than Rita Strike and The Daily Prophet did in Harry’s adventures.

Hat tip to MuggleNet’s Keith Hawk for this find.

Guest Post: The Bloomsbury Group and ‘The Silkworm’

ChrisC is a regular guest writer at HogwartsProfessor. He responded with what follows to my request that he write up thoughts he shared in private correspondence about J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike detective novels for your comment and correction. Enjoy!

Rowling, the Bloomsbury Group, and the (Possible) Literary Allegory of Silkworm

Throughout The Silkworm, author J.K Rowling offers what is more or less a running commentary on the current state of the publishing industry, and the authors who make up the literary world.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Throughout his investigation, Cormoran Strike runs afoul of publishers consumed by greed (with an implied over-fixation on any and everything digital that that hurts sales more than it benefits), writer’s quarreling among themselves for various slights both real, imagined, major, and minor.  Throughout all this it soon becomes (or at least should be) evident that the great majority of Silk is taken up with a scathing critique or Allegorical Satire of the Literary Establishment.

It’s the nature of that Satire that I’m interested in.  It’s been suggested here already that the Strike books are Ms. Rowling’s smuggled literary Key to the Potter Books.  Whether or not that prediction will hold true is a matter of time and whatever is written in the final books.  In the meantime, there were two clues that may hint at the possibly bigger literary fish has in mind with her Satire. [Read more…]