A Lethal White ‘White Horse’ Round-Up: An Explanation of ‘Heroin Dark Lord’

I have made five posts in the run-up to the publication of Lethal White in September and suspect there will be quite a few more before the avalanche of discussion after we have the book in hand. These posts, separately and taken together, are a great way to warm up your Strike sagacity and to review possibilities in the upcoming book (Speculatus!). Today I have gathered them in one place in our first Lethal White Round-Up, a list I will update before and after 18 September. Enjoy!

Lethal White: The White Horse Evidence

Rowling/Galbraith has been hinting pretty heavily that the fourth Cormoran Strike adventure will feature a white horse of some kind. In this post I review the ten points of evidence, from the ‘lethal white’ equine genetic disease to the unicorn of Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse, a favorite of Rowling’s, with stops at Jack and the Beanstalk, Rowling’s white horse thumb drive, and Ngaio Marsh’s Off With His Head! Evan Willis adds in the comment thread the possibility that the white horse could be the Uffington White Horse. I think Rowling/Galbraith’s pale pony, though, is heroin whose street name is “white horse” but that will take some extra effort to understand.

Lethal White: Rokeby, Jagger, Heroin

The first step in understanding the central place of heroin in the coming Strike adventures is Leda Strike’s death from a heroin overdose, the overarching mystery of the series. Our peg legged private investigator, Leda’s son, thinks it was murder but has no proof. I suggest in this post a good jumping off place for figuring out Leda’s death is in noting the remarkable parallels between the life as we know it of Jonny Rokeby, lead singer of the Deadbeats rock band, and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. Heroin, it turns out, was a big part of Jagger’s life in the period corresponding to Leda’s relationship with Rokeby, a drug arrest in the Deadbeats, and the band’s most successful album.

Lethal White: Is Strike Rokeby’s Son? The Dates Don’t Seem to Add Up

Which brings us to a seeming glitch in the text, a gaffe that highlights Strike’s lack of resemblance to and relationship with his biological father. Strike was conceived and born in 1974, the only year in rocker Rokeby’s reproductive era that he was not married. Book Strike says he was “the extra-marital accident” that caused Rokeby “a marriage and millions in alimony.” If the Rokeby Wikipedia date entries are correct, then Strike has a mistaken understanding of his past. Might the DNA test establishing Rokeby’s paternity, not possible until the mid 1980’s, been fixed or faked?

Lethal White: Three Galbraith Mistakes in Cuckoo’s Calling – Are the Wikipedia Dates a Fourth?

Cuckoo’s Calling was Galbraith’s first effort at detective fiction and there are several mistakes, what Harry Potter fandom called ‘Flints’ after the Slytherine Quidditch player who was at Hogwarts for at least eight years. There is Strike’s surety that the murderer will have to have kept Rochelle Onifade’s cellular phone, the two runners moving in proximity away from the murder scene, and there having been a “conviction” in the trial of Leda Strike’s accused murderer. In the face of these proofing errors, I acknowledge that maybe Galbraith’s editors just blew the dates in the Wikipedia entry for Rokeby. But I don’t think so. Not really.

Lethal White: The White Horse is Heroin — John’s Heroin Dark Lord Speculation

Heroin Dark Lord is a theory that attempts to explain the seeming holes in the Cormoran Strike back story in order to reveal the probable Big Bad Guy and High Stakes in Play for the next novels in the Galbraith adventures. In it, I connect the dots of (a) the Rokeby-Jagger heroin parallels and Leda’s mysterious death from an overdose of a drug she never used with (b) the facts that Strike testified against a crime syndicate “drug ring” leader in London in a vice squad joint operation before he went to Afghanistan, the world capitol of heroin production. I offer a story that theoretically at least covers the mysteries of Rokeby’s supposed paternity, Leda’s death, and the seemingly at random IED explosion in Afghanistan: Rokeby’s involvement with the heroin drug trade and, as likely as not, a murder he committed himself or caused.

I should probably call this Heroin Dark Lord, 1.0, because I’m already thinking of variations, expansions, and corrections (did SIB Strike pull Anstis to safety instead of the other person in the troop carrier because Anstis had information about what they were investigating that the other soldier wouldn’t?). I think it is an important start, though, in understanding where Rowling is going with her as always magisterial narrative slow release. If she is writing in parallel with the Hogwarts Saga, we probably won’t know for sure at the end of Goblet/Lethal White; we may meet Rokeby in the Little Hangleton graveyard but the Prophecy equivalent – why Leda was murdered — will have to wait for Strike 5.

Enjoy the Round-Up — and please do share your thoughts about Heroin Dark Lord or any of the other posts in this first Lethal White collection in the comment boxes below!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing all your great posts with us. Always fascinating to read.

    I do have a question though about “the facts that Strike testified against a crime syndicate “drug ring” leader in London in a vice squad joint operation before he went to Afghanistan.” In Career of Evil, the date given for Cormoran’s testimony is 2008–but in Cuckoo’s Calling–which I believe is set from January 8th to April/May of 2010–it is stated that it’s been two and half years since the IED blast in Afghanistan that took the lower third of his right leg.

    When I tried my poor math skills with this information I came up with the idea that Cormoran was in Afghanistan in 2007 (if not before) and had been injured in 2007 October/November. I could be totally wrong with my numbers and it wouldn’t make a big difference, I don’t think, if he was out of the SIB when he gave testimony for the case agains Digger Malley of the Harringay Crime Syndicate. I was rather surprised to find out in COE that Digger was already out of prison in 2011.

    (On a side note I just saw a review for Lethal White!! and I printed it but refuse to read anything that has spoilers in it until I get to read the book myself.) Only 9 more days 😉

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