Lethal White: Daddy Chiswell Evidence

Joanne Gray yesterday shared the possibility that Cormoran Strike’s real biological father was not Jonny Rokeby but Jasper Chiswell. Her argument turned on the most famous photograph of Rokeby and Leda Strike, the only one of them together, which picture includes a “playboy aristocrat” and “art dealer.” Both of these men are dead (one by suicide…) so of course the “aristocrat” pictured could not be Jasper Chiswell in the flesh, but the picture points to such a person being a potential answer to the question, “If Rokeby is not Cormoran’s father, who might be?” It turns out, too, that there are several pointers to a Chiswell-Strike relation and resemblance embedded in Lethal White — and Joanne shares many of them below. Enjoy!

Here are five further items found in Lethal White that can be seen to add weight to my theory in yesterday’s post, “Bookending the Past: Cormoran Strike’s Real Father?,” that hidden inside a paragraph on page 456 of Cuckoo’s Calling (UK pb Part Four, Chapter 11) about the most famous photograph of Leda and Jonny, is a mention of a “playboy aristocrat,” the sort of person who could be the actual father of Cormoran Strike.

The following quotes below from Lethal White, are just some of the parallels that the author hints are between Cormoran and the aristocratic Jasper Chiswell. It’s not implied that these parallels are biological (although there’s no demonstrable proof either way), but rather that they point to connections that have not yet been revealed.  

There are enough of these parallels to alert the careful reader that they are more than just coincidence… [Read more…]

Lethal White: Cormoran’s Real Father?

Joanne Gray was the first to reveal the mythological underpinnings of the Cormoran Strike mysteries. Today she makes a bold speculative leap from the idea that Jonny Rokeby isn’t Strike’s father: could the pivotal fourth book in this series include an embedded story about the real father of the Peg-Legged PI? Be prepared for a shocker, ye Serious Strikers, because Prof Gray may have blown open the core mystery of Strike’s life, that is, how Leda Strike died and Jonny Rokeby’s involvement with her death. Enjoy!

Bookending the Past

One of the first things that the long time readers of the Cormoran Strike series would have noticed while reading the latest book, Lethal White, is that just when they arrived at the place where they would normally find the introduction of the novel’s main mystery, they were instead greeted by Billy Knight, a clearly distressed individual showing signs of mental illness. Billy had shown up in Cormoran’s office insisting he needed him to investigate a crime that may or may not have taken place twenty years ago. The reader is knocked off balance on several levels (though not as much as Denise, the new secretary) but enough to make them wonder where this could be going.

It turns out that the answers would be a long time coming because Billy only stayed long enough to begin his disjointed and jumbled version of what he could remember, before bolting out of the office and before giving Strike either a phone number or an address.

It soon becomes evident that Billy’s story isn’t the main case but is instead serving as a leitmotif, threading through the rest of the book, making periodic intrusions into the slowly unfolding main mystery. These periodic reminders of Billy’s case come in the guise of frantic phone calls that Cormoran misses more often than he picks up. Through most of the book the ever elusive Billy remains beyond just being physically located (much like the deeply repressed memories that will no doubt trouble Strike throughout the fifth book).

Billy’s story that begins before the book’s main mystery, isn’t resolved until after the resolution of the main mystery during the book’s epilogue. It forms bookends around the main story, which revolves around the book’s murder victim, the aristocratic Minister of Culture, Jasper Chiswell, and his extended, dysfunctional family, as his gravitational pull also brings in those who orbit around his family.

I think Billy’s “bookended” past mystery acts like a test run for book five which looks like it will involve a journey into Cormoran’s own deeply repressed memories of his mother’s murder. Memories that have haunted him, much like Billy’s own tormented thoughts have done, for almost twenty years. [Read more…]

Rowling Twitter Mask: Bonfire Night 2017

Yesterday I asked readers to share their thoughts about the remarkable Twitter cameo picture Rowling had posted on her @JK_Rowling twitter feed. The responses were great (check them out here) and among the guesses and speculation we got a source for the mask.

Nick Jeffery wrote: “I think it’s makeup from last year, there is photo of her with Blondie wearing it.”

A quick internet search for the ‘Rowling Blondie mask’ turned up this story with the picture Nick remembered from a year ago.

Any party with author JK Rowling is bound to be magical.

But the Harry Potter author made sure her Bonfire Night celebrations went with a bang by asking Blondie to provide the evening’s entertainment.

Details emerged on social media when the US band’s co-founder and lead guitarist, Chris Stein, posted an image of punk icon singer Debbie Harry, 72, with Miss Rowling (sic). The author wore a mask over one half of her face, while Miss Harry sported dramatic make-up around her eyes.

The headline for the piece? Is That Debbie Harry (Potter)?

So, it’s not a halloween thing, but a Bonfire Night mask (Bonfire Night is Monday 5 November this year).

It’s not CGI or make-up but a “Venetian-style mask” according to the picture caption.

And it’s not a pointer to the Grindelwald ‘Mad-eye’ but may be a source for the look we’ve seen in Crimes of Grindelwald stills that DeppDelWald is sporting in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts.

I’m going to award HogPro some points toward an Order of Nostradamus medal for writing it was “a mask from Venice she is excited about” my first of three guesses, if only the second idea, the ‘Beasts within us” was meant seriously. I’ll be sending Nick Jeffery a special prize before Bonfire Night for his excellent memory (stay tuned for that announcement!).

Thanks to everyone who commented beneath the post and the folks who wrote me directly. I’m looking forward to seeing if Sebastian and Kelly are right about the crows!


Rowling Posts Demonic Twitter Cameo

J. K. Rowling has the largest twitter following of any author on planet earth. She uses her platform and access to 14.5 million tweeters to deliver Lumos pronouncements and push charity drives, to scold those on the political right for being stupid or Donald Trump as well as those with her on the left when they disappoint The Presence (especially the Corbyn inspired anti-Semitism sadly resurgent in the UK today), to share art by women, and to promote the Wizarding World film franchises, Cursed Child, and, on rare occasions, something Cormoran Strike (usually, alas, a BBC1 teevee adaptation advertisement). We sometimes even get a retweeted announcement with film when a dog breaks the world canine long jump record. Mostly, though, it’s Lumos.

She has told us that she tries to make the larger ‘masthead’ picture above her page reflect what she is thinking about. Those of us who collect these pictures — wait, am I the only one? — had all sorts of grins and giggles during our reading of Lethal White because so many of the scenes in the book were either in the masthead at sometime in the last three years or suggestive of the gist of that scene. The fates, the white horses, the chapel-crypt in Parliament, et cetera.

Within the masthead, Rowling embeds a cameo picture of herself. These are not casual selfies but production numbers appropriate to the size of her audience and the importance of creating a strong and positive impression of the author on her minion millions to advance the message of the day. Until yesterday, she changed masthead and cameo at the same time. There is no set period for pictures to stay up; in my little over a year of snipping pictures from the page, the average duration of a masthead-cameo combo is two to four weeks. One set this past August, though, only lasted five days. Once last February she switched out her cameo from full glam to girl-next-door the same day.

From 19 August to 27 September this year, the masthead was a billboard promoting the 18 September release of Lethal White. It looked like this:

On 27 September it changed to this:

I wrote an email about this new picture to my Super Striker micro-mailing list and asked if any of them had an idea of what the backdrop was about. Was it a black swan? A crow? Rowling had tweeted a picture of a crow as her masthead in 2017. M. Evan Willis responded:

Reversed image Search on Google to find the original, to see if the title of the stock photo might reveal anything. It comes up on shutterstock.com, a royalty free image site, with the unenlightening title of “Black feathers close up of black textured surface”. [smile enoji] https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/black-feathers-close-textured-surface-216240412?src=H4dj0sYdBclPRvlAI5ScqQ-1-4 Full photo from Google Images attached. That said, the color would fit if we are to expect the alchemical Nigredo in book 5.

The attached file was a match with the masthead foto. I filed it away.

Today I checked @JK_Rowling and noticed that the masthead was still “Black Feathers Close Up” but that the cameo had changed. My, oh my, had it changed. It looks like the image on the left now. My three guesses are (1) it’s a Halloween Ball mask from Venice she is excited about, (2) she wanted to highlight the ‘Beast Within’ theme of Fantastic Beasts that critics and speculators are neglecting in the run-up to the release of Crimes of Grindelwald next month, and (3) she felt obliged to remind those in Russia who think Harry Potter will save their country that she is a prisoner of demons and her work is the gateway to the occult. Or maybe it is just a show of support for the witches gathering in Brooklyn on 20 October to hex Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?

Anyway, pretty doggone scary cameo, especially against that same black masthead backdrop. Here’s hoping that it is either a warm up for Halloween — or that you know what it is all about! Is it Jo the Minotaur from the Theseus myth beneath the Newt series? That eye is definitely similar to the ghoulish eye of Gellert Grindelwald, no? Please do share your best guess in the comment boxes below. Lemmeno what you think!

Reading, Writing, Rowling 15: Quidditch!

J. K. Rowling tweeted out an answer last week to her least favorite subject — reader complaints about the scoring system of Quidditch — in which she explained that “it makes total sense.” Her conclusion was that “Quidditch is the human condition.” Right on schedule to explain that cryptic comment, Katy McDaniel has released a ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast on just this subject with two Quidditch experts.

From the write-up of the podcast at MuggleNet:

Do you skip over the Quidditch scenes in the Harry Potter novels? Katy and guest expert Emily Strand talk with author and wizard activist Caitlin Elizabeth Harper about the meaning of Quidditch – the sport from Queerditch Marsh – for the Harry Potter series. We look at the social and cultural value of the game in the wizarding world: its role in helping Harry feel connected to this new realm, shaping identities, and revealing the character of wizard society. But as a sport, Quidditch often frustrates readers who find it nonsensical and a sideline distraction from the main story. Emily and Caitlin both explain how central this sport really is to understanding the battle between good and evil in the wizarding world.

[Read more…]