Hidden Photos at Rowling Websites: Digital Clues and Detective Work #2

We got some great results in our first look at embedded pictures on The Presence’s website homepage. The Smith’s album cover shown is from an album that has song lyrics noting three different murders (per Louise Freeman) and one song with a suggestive title, ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ (Chris Calderon). For more discussion on that, go to the thread following ‘Hidden Photos at Rowling Websites: Digital Clues and Detective Work #1.’

Today let’s have a look at another photo-on-the-edge, this one in plain site but hard to figure: a book and what looks to be a coaster but the url says is a ‘bath.’

Well, the url actually says “bath-book.png” and looking at the book maybe it just means the book was dropped in the tub during a reading (Rowling has said this a common fate for her favorite books).

The book is Off With Their Heads by Ngaio Marsh and it deserves it’s own longish post. Just as a teaser, it features a white horse so it got this brief mention in our Lethal White pre-publication White Horse Round-Up:

Rowling’s home web site is not PotterMore; it is JKRowling.com. It’s worth a visit every month or so to see what she’s put up there. Early this year I noticed a book cover I’d missed on previous drop-ins. The title is barely legible (see picture on the right), but it turns out to be Ngaio Marsh’s Off With His Head! which was published as Death of a Fool in the United States. I asked my Lewis Carroll expert and friend, Brian Basore, to look into it because I assumed it was a reference to the Queen of Hearts in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Not so much, it turns out.

But — Alchemy (the forge!), the Fool (see Evan Willis on the Harlequin) temperaments/humours, Shakespeare, Jonson, mise en abyme, murder mystery… with P. D. James’ The Skull Beneath the Skin, Marsh’s Off With His Head is another model for Silkworm and a brilliant alchemical murder-mystery set-piece. It’s must reading for Potter Pundits, especially with the Rowling.com cover posting.

And, as Brian Basore reminds me, the murder in the novel turns on the details of a Morris Dance routine in which the star figure is a white horse in two pieces. Are you seeing a pattern?

I will write up those notes soon, trust me, but what I’m really wondering about today is that coaster:

Any ideas? The closest thing I could find was a Welsh dragon bumper sticker. I’m confident that’s not it. Please tweet it out to your friends, do the requisite Google searches, or post it on FaceBook for your followers to recognize. I look forward to reading your findings…

Will Benson and Tess De Vere Reminder: ‘Summary Justice’ On Deck at HogPro

I have just finished John Fairfax’s Summary Justice, the first of his courtroom thrillers featuring the convicted-murderer-become-barrister William Benson and his much more conventional and accredited lawyer cum tutor Tess de Vere. I am delighted to say it is a winner and a wonderful opening to what looks to be a series somewhat akin to the Cormoran Strike – Robin Ellacott detective mysteries.

The three biggest points of correspondence are just the ones you’d want to find if you’re a Serious Striker.

First, the novel was a satisfying story unto itself with twists upon twists, spectacular back and forth revelations in the Old Bailey, and delightfully involved narratives written by both the murder victim and by the murderer. Summary Justice works as a stand-alone book.

Second, there are two background mysteries akin to Robin’s reasons for dropping out of college and the death of Leda Strike. Tess de Vere has just returned to the UK after years overseas and why she left and came back is only hinted at (her best friend Sally really wants to know). More important and urgent is whether Benson did or not did not commit the murder for which he was convicted and served eleven years in prison. Tess sets out with Sally to find out who killed Paul Harbeton if it wasn’t Benson — and what Tess learns and what we see of Will’s time at home with father and brother is not especially reassuring with respect to his innocence.

Third, the lead characters and the supporting cast are well-drawn, credible, and engaging. Benson’s sidekick from prison, Archie Congreve, his legal secretary, Molly Robson, and his legal mentor and seeming Magwitch, Miss Camberley, promise to be constants and delights in the novels to come.

I look forward, then, to starting the next book, Blind Defence, which I’m sure will be another thrill-ride, to taking the next step forward in it to learning about the over-arching mysteries, and just to spending time with Will, Tess, and Company. As I do with Strike5, right?

Please do get a copy of Summary Justice and give it at least one reading before we start discussing it next month. I was confident that it would be a great choice for our conversation after reading five of Brodrick’s Father Anselm mysteries; after finishing Summary Justice today, I know you will love it.

If you need an extra boost, read the rave reviews sans spoilers for the book at The Literary Shed (UK) and at GoodReads. Then go to the library or your local bookstore or to BookFinder4u.com, pick up your copy, and start reading!



Hidden Photos at Rowling Websites: Digital Clues and Detective Work #1

If you are surfing the internet and wind up at J. K. Rowling’s home website, that’s JKRowling.com, odds are good you’re not seeing all there is to see on the front page. Some of the best material is just out of sight on the page’s margins and what is there seems to be cut off so there may seem to be nothing but a page corner that is showing. It can be seen, however, via a simple trick. Evan Willis at the University of Dallas taught me the trick; using Google Chrome, right clicking on the image and then ‘Open Image in New Tab’ brings up the full picture no matter how much or little is evident on the home page.

We’ve already learned a lot from this trick. Prof Beatrice Groves’ four part series on Rowling and Scotland was inspired at least in part by her learning this trick and trying to figure out the badge photo near the top of the page. Rowling’s internet minions have changed the foto used for the ipad screen consequent to her latest re-tweet of a Pottermore message about the Times Square event (so right-clicking on the badge only brings up the iPad), but early last month it brought up the picture to your right. Prof Groves with a little help from her friends recognized it as the Murray Clan broach and the rest is history.

This week I hope to post several pictures here from JKRowling.com and Robert-Galbraith.com to challenge you to figure out what they are, why it might be on the home page, or just what it means. Today’s mystery image is from the upper right hand corner of the homepage and almost completely covered by the iPad with Rowling’s current twitter page on it. The url for the isolated picture tells us it is a ‘Smiths’ record album and it seems to be an inner sleeve. Click on that link to see the isolated picture full size.

Anyone care to guess which album it is or why she chose it for her homepage? The Smiths were one of Rowling’s favorite rock bands at UExeter, but they didn’t make her list of Desert Island Discs; how do they rate this just barely visible picture on the front page of the world’s best selling author? The closest match I could find for it was this one from ‘The World Won’t Listen.’ If you own the double LP album, let us know what it’s about in the comment boxes below!

Rowling Still Working on Beasts3 Script

Eddie Redmayne told a reporter at the Toronto Film Festival last week that “the script is still being worked on.”

ET Online: Do you have a Fantastic Beasts 3 update for us?
Eddie Redmayne: We’re meant to start shooting in the beginning of next year. The script is still being worked on. There’s nothing – I’m literally giving you nothing!

I’m trying to do that thing of talking about it and saying nothing, because of the fear of getting told off. But no, it’s happening, and it’s really exciting.

The man sounds positively petrified of saying something he shouldn’t (or is that just his response to a reporter asking him about a film other than the one he is supposed to be talking about?). Regardless of Redmayne, we now have to add that answer to the pile of possible answers to the question, “What is The Presence doing if she’s not tweeting every day?” The speech for the Robert Kennedy Do-Gooder Award ceremony in December can’t be a full time job, can it?

For those of you following the Beasts film franchise, the good news is that Redmayne’s comments do not suggest any delays in the filming or release dates for Beasts3. That last is a year after the elections here in the US… (did you know that Moaning Myrtle’s real name is ‘Elizabeth Warren’?)

In more exciting news. here is the trailer for the film Fast Eddie was in Toronto to promote, The Aeronauts, an historical fiction due in theaters or via Amazon Prime this December.

Universal Studios Launches New Dark Arts Show

There is no need to use Veritaserum to discover the truth that the Wizarding World parks are big business at Image result for dark arts universal studios orlandoOrlando’s Universal Studios parks. The Diagon Alley area, located in the original Universal Studios Park, features Muggle versions of many of the shops in Harry’s world, along with the ever-popular Escape from Gringotts ride. The Hogwarts Express will take guests (as long as they have tickets that will get them into both parks) to the Hogsmeade section of the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park. Here guests can join Harry on the Forbidden Adventure ride, or on Flight of the Hippogriff, or even on the newly opened Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure. Tonight, Universal will debut a new attraction at Hogwarts Castle (located in the Islands of Adventure if you are having trouble keeping up). Join us after the jump to talk about the new Dark Arts show and what it means, aside from the obvious—more money for Universal. [Read more…]