Troubled Blood Predictions: The SWAGs

What We Think May Happen and Why: Mild and Wild SWAGs

Rowling admitted that she has embedded clues to the upcoming series entries in the books already published and that she is writing books like this because that’s what writers she likes do (no, I cannot think of any who do anything on the order of puzzle writing in a book series akin to what Rowling does). Read that 16 February 2018  Interview with J.K. Rowling here. The relevant passage is at the tail end:

You say that you’re often obsessed with your characters’ pasts. You must have gathered quite a lot of information about Strike by the time you got to Career Of Evil. Did you think about how much you should put in there?

Through the whole of the first three books I have seeded future plots. I already know where he’s going to go and I’ve already mentioned things I need to mention. I’ve mentioned people I need to have mentioned, because you will meet them in further books.

It’s a question of really knowing who they are and using that. I enjoy reading books of any kind, not just detective fiction. Where I feel the author really knows, I feel like I’m in safe hands. They know everything – I don’t need to worry, they’ve got it all worked out. I like that feeling when I read a book. That’s the kind of book I want to write.

Speculation on Troubled Blood, consequently, turns on a close reading of the previous Strike novels, 1-4, an understanding of the parallelism in Rowling works internally in the series and externally with Potter, and a sense of what constitutes a clue in the Rowling writing domain. I started the prediction making with respect to Phoenix parallels in an October 2018 post about the probable end of the Strike agency in Troubled Blood. (Be sure to read the comment thread on that post!)

We’ve come a long way since then. I’ve already posted my prediction sure-things, events and literary twists that have to happen because they have happened in every other Strike novel. Here are seven SWAGs for contrast, most ‘scientific’ or at least closely reasoned and a few at the end that explore the ‘wild’ side. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Liminal Women: Mermaids and Swan Maidens in Galbraith’s Strike Novels

Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, returns to HogwartsProfessor today — her third post here in a week! — to offer thoughts in the run-up to publication of Troubled Blood on the Mermaids and Swan Maidens in the Cormoran Strike novels. Enjoy!

In Lethal White there is moment when Britain’s sea-faring history briefly surfaces. Robin enters the rose garden of St Nicholas Church, Deptford and notes that its gateposts are ‘topped with the strangest finials she had ever seen. A pair of gigantic, crumbling stone skulls sat on top of carved bones.’ Robin thinks to herself that they would look at home ‘garnishing the front of a pirate’s mansion in some fantasy film’ (48). But, there is a persistent local legend that the indebtedness is the other way around: not that these finials recall the Jolly Roger, but that the Jolly Roger recalls them. The church’s website notes:

The famous flag of piracy sent shivers down the spine of unfortunate mariners whenever they came across it. But where did the flag originate? Legend has it that the flag was based on the skulls which still stand on the gate posts of St Nicholas’ church.

For centuries an economic and maritime war existed over the domination of the trade routes between Europe and the Americas, Africa and the Indian sub-continent. This battle of supremacy was mostly contested by Britain, France, Spain and Holland. Much of the conflict was acted out by privateers – ships in private ownership and outside the Royal Navy – whose activities were not fully investigated by the national authorities.

The British privateers did not necessarily want to broadcast their nationality when approaching say, a Spanish galleon returning from the Caribbean, particularly if they intended to loot her. So they invented a new flag, one intended to strike fear into the hearts of their victims and also to disguise their true nationality.

These ships were pirates, and many of them would have set off from Deptford – so hence it is thought that they borrowed the skull and crossed bones image from their local church.

This is, sadly, probably just a local tale, based on the link between the widespread, and ancient, Christian use of skulls as memento mori and the Jolly Roger (Though I do wonder if these memento mori skulls might have been in Rowling’s mind when she put up the Twitter header of Harmen Steenwyck’s ‘Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life’ as her Twitter header in Dec 2016, noting (when asked about it): ‘It’s hard to find a header that sums up everything I’m working on at the moment, but this painting comes close! It’s by Harmen Steenwyck’ (Jan 5, 2017)

Rowling would have been writing Lethal White at the time, and perhaps the memento mori skull in Steenwyck’s painting alludes to those church gates in Deptford, and the eye-catching local legend that they inspired the Jolly Roger itself.)

For Troubled Blood Strike will (at least briefly) be relocating to the coast, and given Rowling’s deep interest in folk legends and tales, I expect some Cornish sea-faring legends to appear. The most commonly noted Cornish link throughout the series has been Strike’s drink of choice – Doom Bar – and if this location merits a mention once Strike is back in Cornwall (as it surely might) Rowling may allude to ‘The Doom-Bar’ by Alice E. Gillington. We know from the blurb that Robin will be ‘juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike’ in this novel – and I wonder if Gillington’s Victorian poem about a doomed romance may have caught Rowling’s eye. ‘The Doom-Bar’ relates the story of a woman who gives her lover a keepsake as he sails away across the Doom Bar sands. She remains faithfully waiting for him until one year, when the tide is unusually low, she walks out on the Doom Bar and finds her ring nestling inside a scallop shell. This find brings with it the realisation that her sweetheart was faithless, and he tossed her ring out to sea the very day she gave it to him. [Read more…]

Charlotte and Clodia: Clues for Troubled Blood? Beatrice Groves Thinks So

Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, returns to HogwartsProfessor today to offer thoughts in the run-up to publication of Troubled Blood on the importance of the poet Catullus and his love for Lesbia in understanding Strike’s relationship with Charlotte Campbell-Ross. Enjoy!

After my first post about Strike’s use of the Roman poet Catullus, Joanne Gray pointed out a major Catullan clue I had missed. This post is dedicated to her find!

Joanne Gray’s comment ran:

Another reason I thought the clue JKR was giving to readers with poem #85, was a clue about Cormoran and Charlotte is because she not only had already linked Catullus with Cormoran but she also slipped in a link to Charlotte and Catullus as well.

In The Silkworm, in chapter 42, Charlotte Campbell is linked to Catullus when her email name/address is given as The link is in the name Clodia which is the real life name of Clodia Pulchra, the person behind Catullus’ muse Lesbia, who Catullus is addressing in poem #85.

I think this means that Charlotte will definitely be reappearing in Lethal White.

Since there is so much foreshadowing in the first book about the fierce revenge that Charlotte always exacts on people who wrong her—it looks like she will be bringing some real fury in her return. (I confess I don’t have a clue what that will entail.) Since the real life Roman aristocratic, Clodia Pulchra, was suspected of poisoning her husband, it’s going to be interesting to see if Charlotte is still married or a widow in Lethal White.

This is a great spot, and Joanne certainly hit a bullseye in her guess that we’d be seeing more of Charlotte in Lethal White. On how right she was about Clodia and Charlotte, join me after the jump!

[Read more…]

Paid Political Message, September 2020

Troubled Blood Predictions: The Givens

What We Know Has to Happen: Seven Troubled Blood Near Sureties

Readers are four books deep into the Cormoran Strike series and we have in hand a list of things that happen in every book. Let’s clear the deck of the almost sure things to look for in Troubled Blood as something of a review of our experience thus far. (For more on this, especially the ring writing notes, see The Three Things about Comoran Strike Every Harry Potter Fan Should Know. If you want to see my predictions for Lethal White in this same format, go here; the scorecard of hits and misses is here.)

On to the sure-thing predictions for Troubled Blood –

  1. There will be a Murder, Strike and Robin will Investigate it, They will come to a Seeming Dead-End, Strike will Have an Insight into Whodunnit, He Will Get the Proof He Needs to Convince the Metropolitan Police to Make an Arrest, and there will be a Reveal and Arrest.

Strike runs the C. B. Strike Detective Agency. Robin Ellacott-Cunliffe is his partner, though he retains final decision making authority (and responsibility). He has a history, to her amusement, of taking unlikely and unprofitable cases that turn into Big Deal media events. We know from the pre-publication synopsis and First Part release that Troubled Blood will not be an exception to this rule; the fifth mystery is a missing person cold case, which, while potentially profitable for the agency, does not promise to be successful or controversial. We can expect that Strike and Robin will solve the case and that it will make headlines in the process. There should be conflicts and positive exchanges with the Metropolitan Police during the book, a combative avoidance with newspaper and television ‘journalists,’ and, as in Lethal White, the presence of other Private Investigators looking into the Strike Agency for bad actors.

          2. There will be Revelations About Strike’s Personal and Professional History

In every book, Galbraith reveals something about Strike’s past life with Leda, Charlotte, and the Nancarrows or at Oxford and in the IEB. The first seven chapters of Troubled Blood continue this narrative slow release.

          3. There will be Revelations About Strike’s Former Fiancee, Charlotte Campbell-Ross

Ditto the Charlotte data. She calls Strike’s office, we learn from Robin in chapter three of Troubled Blood, and the Goddess of Glam says she “has something” to give Bluey. We learn from Robin that Charlotte safely delivered her twins in the year between Lethal White and the action of Troubled Blood.

          4. There will be Revelations about Leda Strike, Cormoran’s Mother, and Her Death

In some Strike books there are more details, in others there are astonishingly few ‘reveals’ about Leda Strike. Career of Evil  was loaded; Lethal White barely has a mention of her. Troubled Blood promises to be more like Strike 3 than Strike 4 in this regard; she already features in chapters one and four of the released Apple Books preview.

          5. There will be Revelations about Robin Ellacott-Cunliffe’s Personal and Professional History

We learned in Career of Evil about the crisis at university that kept Robin from finishing her degree and Lethal White was chock full of details about how this played out in her relationship with Matthew. Troubled Blood will probably not be as Robin history loaded as these two books, but I expect we will learn at least one new reason to despise her first husband.

          6. There will be Pronounced Echoes of Career of Evil, as well as Cuckoo’s Calling, in Troubled Blood

Lethal White was heavy with references to events that were shadows of similar events in the first Strike novel, Cuckoo’s Calling. Read ‘Cuckoo’s Calling: 25+ Lethal White Finds’ and ‘Lethal White: Add Seven Cuckoo’s Echoes.’ This, when added to Rowling’s history of ring writing, suggests strongly that she is writing another seven book ring cycle akin to the Harry Potter series. If true, there should be a bevy of echoes from Career of Evil, because Strike 3 is the correspondent to Strike 5 in a typical turtle-back ring.

There may also be pointers to Cuckoo’s Calling, too, believe it or not, because Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was largely a re-telling of the first Potter novel, Philosopher’s Stone;  ‘The Red Hen,’ Joyce Odell, soon after the publication of Phoenix in 2005 noted the more than fifty parallels between the fifth book in that series and the first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

          7. There will be Pronounced Echoes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as well as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in Troubled Blood

Cuckoo’s Calling a la Philosopher’s Stone was about Cormoran Strike’s coming into his own, his “becoming a name,” and his escape from a relationship and living situation that was more a prison than a home. To quote Louise Freeman’s summary of the rest

Book 2 centered on the havoc wreaked by a mysterious autobiographical book, Book 3 on a notorious escaped criminal stalking the protagonist and Book 4 on patricide of a government minister, set against the backdrop of a major sporting event.

Let’s focus on that last one, Book 4 of each series. Lethal White, her fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, if written in parallel with and as commentary on the Hogwarts Saga equivalent numbers, should be overflowing with echoes and parallels to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And it is. See ‘Does Lethal White Echo Goblet of Fire?’ for the list we put up here after a first reading (I say ‘we’ because Louise Freeman and Evan Willis significantly expanded my first seven parallels in the comment boxes beneath that post) and Lethal White: Every Goblet of Fire Link?’ for the exhaustive cataloging. There are more than forty echoes of greater and lesser resonance.

Ergo, Strike 5 will be heavy with references to Potter 5, and, for reasons mentioned above, to Potter 1, Philosopher’s Stone.

Tomorrow, we continue our countdown to Troubled Blood with a guest post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter. We’ll return the day after with a review of our previous guesswork about Troubled Blood, cf., Louise Freeman’s ‘Creosote-Colored Tea Leaves,’ and some added ring guesswork based on what we know from the revealed Parts 1 and 2. 

Feel free to drop your best guesses about Troubled Blood in the comment boxes below!