Super Lethal White Speculation Podcast! Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 14: Cormoran Strike – and Harry Potter?

Tuesday morning, just after midnight or later in the day when your bookstore opens for business, we’ll all be reading Strike 4, aka Lethal White, the latest Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike whudunnit. I have the day off from my Muggle job Tuesday and, no, I won’t be answering email or cell phone calls. It’s like a throw back to Midnight Madness parties and the anticipation of a first reading of a Harry Potter novel… and those are happy memories for Rowling fans, right?

I will, of course, be posting on a daily basis here about Lethal White from late on the 18th and the days following for at least a month. Until Tuesday, though, what are we to do?

Marietta College’s History professor and Potter Pundit Katy McDaniel, the host of MuggleNet’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast anticipated our frustration in the waning moments of the Great Wait and recorded a conversation among three Strike Scholars, Karen Kebarle, Louise Freeman, and myself, about all things Cormoran with special emphasis on what we can expect in Lethal White. It was a ‘wow’ meeting of minds and I recommend it to anyone wishing for an appetizer beyond the excerpt teaser published yesterday in The Guardian.

Dr. McDaniel describes the podcast conversation this way:

J.K. Rowling’s second literary career as Robert Galbraith acts as a commentary on her Harry Potter series and also sets out on a new literary path. With guests Dr. Karen Kebarle and Dr. Louise Freeman, Katy and John examine the connections between the Harry Potter series and the first three Cormoran Strike novels. J.K. Rowling’s artistic signatures appear in the detective novels, in particular via the classical literary allusions that appear in both. Do apparent correspondences reveal more than just that the same mind created both Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike (or the reader’s tendency to see connections everywhere)? An understanding of mythology and ancient literature helps us ponder where the detective series might be headed in the fourth book, due out in mid-September.

Some fans have made the leap from Harry Potter to Cormoran Strike, but others have not. Our conversation explores why this second series has received less popular and scholarly attention, as well as the compelling qualities of the novels – the characters and relationships, plotting, descriptions of modern London, and themes – that have drawn us to them. We also contemplate the larger story arc: Is this essentially a romance between Cormoran and Robin? Does Strike have a “Moriarty” foil who will eventually become important? What will we learn about Cormoran’s father and mother?

Predicting where J.K. Rowling is heading with the series is tricky, but close readings of the previous books, her social media clues, Lethal White’s synopsis, and Rowling’s slow narrative release in the Harry Potter books point us in certain key directions. Do you think we got it right?

If that’s not enough, check out my post ‘Lethal White: What We Can Expect‘ and my most recent speculations about the White Horse idea with which Rowling has been teasing us vis a vis Lethal White in ‘Heroin Dark Lord.’

On Monday I’ll share my Day-Before-Publication ‘List of Ten Things that Have to Happen’ and my ‘Off-The-Wall Prediction List’ of the things I’d love to see in Lethal White. Let me know what you think of the MuggleNet podcast — and stay tuned for an exciting week of Strike posts here at HogwartsProfessor!


  1. Mr. Granger,

    You mention Matthew being the “most disturbing character” in terms of how he reveals flaws the reader might not be aware of in themselves.

    Here’s a question I came away with. It’s regards to the TV series, so I’m willing to take it with a bit of salt. However, when I saw the actor chosen to play Matt, my initial reaction was: “Whoa, Stalker Alert!”

    There wasn’t any forethought in that reaction. It just happened instantly. If I had to point to one element that might have caused it, then maybe it was just something in the characters eyes. On the other hand, it could have been just something about his overall demeanor. I got the impression of the guy who isn’t just like another Dursely. I got the impression of a guy who has a potentially dangerous temper.

    If I had to create a criminal profile for Matt, then it wouldn’t be like the ritual wife-beater type. If Matt has anger management issues with women, then it’s more of like a coiled snake in his head. He’ll be calm and cool one minute, however the instant Robin’s back is turned he might just lash out real quick.

    I don’t know, that’s just the impression I was left with from watching the character’s portrayal in the TV series. I will admit I never got this vibe from book Matt. The novel version seems more like a man who doesn’t really know where he’s going, or what to do with himself. This circumstance might make him angry, yet even there the text-based Matt is more feeble in his outbursts. He’s more a like a drone who’s self-aware enough to realize he’s not really living a meaningful life, yet he’s not brave enough to change it.

    It’ll be interesting to see which version Rowling winds up putting on page.

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