Spenser? Crowley? No, Joni Mitchell! Rowling Reveals Music In and Of Strike 5

J. K. Rowling has recorded two and a half hours of ‘Tracks of My Tears‘ BBC programming that will begin airing on 21 September, six days after the release of Troubled Blood, the fifth in the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels. Today we learned from Ken Bruce, the host of the show, that the music of Strike 5 comes from a rock album popular in 1974:

The fifth book ‘Troubled Blood’ came out earlier this month, and heavily references the songs of Canadian singer songwriter Joni Mitchell, in particular her most successful album ‘Court And Spark’, which was originally released in 1974. …

Music has always played a big part in J.K.’s life and during lockdown she’s discovered many more songs and musical pieces that resonate with her busy and much travelled life. The first two tracks she’s chosen today come from Kate Bush and Emeli Sandé.

Ken also has the daily love song, record and album of the week plus another round of the legendary PopMaster Quiz.

Like you, I’ve read all of Troubled Blood’s Part One and its seven chapters and almost three of Part Two’s seven chapters. Each has been introduced by a quotation-as-epigraph from Spenser’s Faerie Queen, which we expected and hoped for based on hints Rowling has given and from the title (Thank You, Nick Jeffery!). The book itself has an epigraph from Spenser and from Aleister Crowley as well. The Crowley was not a surprise because Rowling had Crowley’s natal horoscope as her twitter header not long ago (again, Nick Jeffery) and the Whittaker clues and Marilyn Manson tweet had us leaning in that direction.

Joni Mitchell? Really? Do the epigraphs from ‘Court and Spark’ begin in Troubled Blood’s Part Three? Help Me!

Sorry for the snark and head shaking, but I confess missing all the allusions to ‘Court and Spark’ in the first Parts of Troubled Blood. If Joni Mitchell is the Blue Oyster Cult beating heart of Troubled Blood, it’s going to have to be in the center or back-half of the book. Please do share the connections you see that I have missed — and, remember, I was thirteen years old in 1974, and, like everyone else who can say that, I have that album all but memorized because you couldn’t go anywhere in the country that year shy of being ten miles off road in Death Valley and not hear ‘Free Man in Paris’ playing in the background.

Here are some links about ‘Court and Spark’ for those interested in learning more:

And here are urls about Ken Bruce’s ‘Tracks of My Years’ BBC radio programming:

Anyone out there want to make a guess about which songs from Kate Bush and Emeli Sandé Rowling will have chosen as representative favorites? I’m clueless once again. Well, Wuthering HeightsBeneath Your Beautiful?

Hat tip to Nick Jeffery once again for this ‘Tracks of My Tears’ find!

BBC Lethal White Adaptation: Any Good? If You’ve Seen It, Let Us Know!

Our friends in the UK have watched three episodes of the Bronte Studios adaptation of Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White for BBC1. Stateside, of course, we do not have access to the BBCiPlayer in order to watch it online.

It’s been reported that the screenwriters deleted Jack’s appendicitis attack and emergency hospitalization (and the attendant scenes between Robin and Cormoran). The clip above suggests they moved the discovery of the pink blanket well forward in the story. Please tell us there are compensating, creative adaptations in this small-screen version of a big book! Your review is welcome, too, as a comment or Guest Post — get writing, Strikers!

And if anyone has a secret url to where any of the three available episodes can be watched by those of us on the western rim of the Atlantic, thanks in advance for sharing in the comment boxes below.

Beatrice Groves: Striking Epigraphs

Today’s offering for Serious Strikers waiting impatiently for Troubled Blood’s publication on 15 September (and for those who have read the first 9 3/4 chapters available free online already) is a Guest Post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter. Her subject? ‘Literary Allusion in Cormoran Strike,’ as you might expect, and with special emphasis on Rowling-Galbraith’s use of epigraphs in Lethal White and Career of Evil. Enjoy! 

Striking Epigraphs

J.K. Rowling has used epigraphs in every novel she has written since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and they are an especial delight of her Strike series (see my previous blogs on Silkworm here and here, Lethal White here, and my hope that Troubled Blood will see her using Spenser’s Faerie Queene for her epigraphs here). Rowling’s epigraphs bring specularity – three-dimensional shading – to her novels. Hunting out the meaning behind her choices makes the reader into a detective, adding an additional depth to her exploration of this genre. This blog post will consider some of the literary effects she achieves, and clues that she drops, with the epigraphs in her two latest Strike novels – Career of Evil and Lethal White – in both of which, I believe, she achieves epigraphical firsts.

Lethal White

Lethal White’s epigraphs are unique because they consist of seventy-one quotations drawn from one single other text – Henrik Ibsen’s Rosmersholm (1886) – making Lethal White more epigraphically indebted than any other novel. By creating this depth of interplay between the two works Rowling embeds many-layered clues in her epigraphs. As I discussed last week, the parallels she creates with Rosmersholm centre on the importance of white horses in both texts, and the resemblance between the unspoken passion in Rebecca and Rosmer’s relationship with that between Robin and Strike.

But there are many other telling epigraphical links. Take, for example, the epigraph to Chapter 49: ‘Rosmers of Rosmersholm clergymen, soldiers, men who have filled high places in the state men of scrupulous honour, every one of them …’.

This is the chapter in Lethal White in which Strike interviews Drummond – and the epigraph fits because Drummond (like Kroll, who speaks this line in the play) is a man of paternalistic traditionalism: [Read more…]

Troubled Blood Chapters 1-10 Now Free Online Pre-Publication At Overdrive.com

For whatever reason, be it calculated marketing design or an oversight error made with a library distribution website about the date of release, the first ten chapters of Robert Galbraith’s fifth Cormoran Strike mystery is now available online at Overdrive.com. The link is here and to access the free chapters the Serious Striker need only click on the box beneath the cover which reads: READ A SAMPLE. The book’s opening epigraphs then appear and, by clicking on the right edge of the page, the first 154 pages of Strike 5 are accessible for everyone’s reading pleasure, free of charge.

The book is seventy-three chapters long so this sample is approximately one tenth of the total. I have discussed at length the first seven chapters, Troubled Blood’s Part One, and the book’s front matter that were released last week on AppleBooks. See First Seven Chapters of Troubled Blood Pre-Publication Release on AppleBooks for that.

Today’s release gives us the first three chapters of Part Two’s seven chapters. It includes our first look at The Demon of Paradise Park and the beginning of Cormoran’s interview with the missing person’s business partner about their shared medical practice on St John’s Lane, Clerkenwell. The tenth chapter ends after only a few pages, alas, and mid-sentence, but a free preview is a free preview — Enjoy!

Guest Post: Galbraith Says Leda Strike’s Death Was Murder Rather than Suicide

From Kelly Loomis —

A post which should be exciting for regular HogPro readers was made on Twitter this morning by The Rowling Library. This tweet linked to audio clips of J. K. Rowling on her official Robert Galbraith website. There are some audios on the new website in which Rowling talks about some topics of the Cormoran Strike books. 

These audio clips seem to have come from various interviews and can be found under the “Discover” tab at the top of the website.  It doesn’t give the source for these interviews and breaks them up into subjects such as “Strike”, “Why London,” and “Denmark Street”. 

What may be the most interesting to HogPro readers is the confirmation of Strike’s belief that Leda was actually murdered.  We have been speculating on who that murderer could be while not having confirmation that it really was a murder to solve.  Below I have transcribed the remarks as best I could. It comes from the clip titled “Strike”.

“He is – ah – in some ways haunted by two dark angels…which…female angels anyway… his mother who was, um, murdered but that murder was never, came, to trial. And by his ex Charlotte, with whom he’s been with for 16 years on and off and in book four, we finally meet Charlotte properly so I’m enjoying writing that at the moment.  But, yeah, so there are certain things hanging over his life and of course that does hugely color his attitude to work and to relationships.”

Rowling’s remarks about her murder not coming to trial confused me because we had been told in Career of Evil that Whittaker had been brought to trial for Leda’s murder.  We are told in Chapter 6 while Robin reads Whittaker’s Wikipedia page that “When Leda Whittaker died of a heroin overdose in 1994, Whittaker was charged with her murder.  He was found not guilty. ” Chapter 10 of Career of Evil gives us a great deal of information about Whittaker and Leda’s relationship in the form of Strike’s remembrances of that time and of Whittaker’s trial for her murder. 

Since she was writing book four, Lethal White, at the time of this quote, the only conclusion I have is that she meant that the “real” murderer had not been brought to trial yet. I am interested in what thoughts you as HogPro readers have about her “reveal”?