The Social Science Guide to “Anomie” and What It Could Mean for The Ink Black Heart.

I will admit that prior to seeing the pre-publication blurb of The Ink Black Heart, I was not familiar with the term “anomie.” Indeed, my initial assumption when learning this was the online handle of a cartoonist’s cyber-stalker, was that the name was intended as a variant of “anime.” However, thanks to Beatrice Groves’ initial post and the flurry of discussion from our friends on the Strikefans.com Twitter feed, I quickly learned it was a term used in my own field of psychology, albeit strongly on the sociological/cultural side of that discipline. This explains why I, a behavioral neuroscientist, had never heard of it. I will be interested in seeing if Robin knows what it is, given that it is more associated with sociology than psychology.

I’m always open to learning new terminology, especially when it comes to better understanding the works of J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, so I spent some time today reading up on this concept. Learn what I found out, and what it might mean for The Ink Black Heart, and specifically for the 5-6 Flip Idea after the jump. [Read more…]

Beatrice Groves – The Ink Black Heart – Uncovering the synopsis clues

This morning we finally have the cover for The Ink Black Heart, complete with a plot teaser from the publisher. A few hours earlier than expected, the details were released by Apple Books before 9:30 am BST, before the expected 2:00 pm BST reveal from the Robert Galbraith twitter account. Thank you SEFiles podcast for the tip! The wait was too much for @RGalbraith who released the cover at 11:30 am.

Beatrice Groves, Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written a Hogwarts Professor Guest Post: The Ink Black Heart – Uncovering the synopsis clues. Join me after the jump for Prof. Groves’ look at what the cover and publisher’s blurb can mean for The Ink Black Heart.

Publisher Description:

The Latest instalment in the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Strike series finds Cormoran and Robin ensnared in another winding, wicked case.

When frantic, dishevelled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The co-creator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.

Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this – and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.

Robin and her business partner, Cormoran Strike, become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways…

A gripping, fiendishly clever mystery, The Ink Black Heart is a true tour-de-force.

[Read more…]

Ink Black Heart Cover Release Tomorrow

Any guesses about the image behind the placeholder cover behind the leaf screen?

And the wall of leaves that open like a beaded screen between rooms?

We will discuss here tomorrow, of course; see you then!

The “5-6 Flip” Idea, Part 2. Predictive Power for The Ink Black Heart?

I am a scientist by training and profession, whether I am teaching behavioral neuroscience, designing treatment plans for special needs children, or collecting correlational data on reading habits and empathic tendency. I look at scientific theories, and their capacity to both explain and predict, on every day of my professional life. As I try to teach my students, “just a” is not a phrase that should ever precede “theory.” Theories are not “ideas” or “guesses.”  They are models that have been empirically shown to  both explain a variety of observed phenomena and predict future events. Well-supported theories: like germ theory, cell theory, the theory of gravity and the theory of evolution are not just intermediate guessing games in the scientific progress; they are the ultimate product of science.

Literary theories work much the same way. Two theories, brainchildren of our headmaster John Granger, clearly have great explanatory power when in comes to the writing of J.K. Rowling.  Those are, as regular readers know: ring composition and literary alchemy. For the Cormoran Strike series, another theory is equally important: the Parallel Series Idea, or the theory–I am comfortable calling it a theory now, for reasons I’ll explain later–that each book of the Cormoran Strike Series has thematic parallels to its counterpart Harry Potter series.

For the most part, these literary theories serve to explain. When Hermione yells, “Are you a wizard or what?” at Ron in Deathly Hallows, we explain it as a ring composition inversion of his “Are you a witch or what?” in Philosopher’s Stone. We see hot, dry conditions in Order of the Phoenix (and the Hunger Games!) and a rain, fog and snowstorms in Half-Blood Prince (and Catching Fire!), so we explain them as the nigredo and albedo phases of an alchemical cycle. But what makes the theories truly convincing is when they generate a testable prediction, and the prediction comes true. When a “black” character (Sirius) died in Order of the Phoenix and a “white” character (Albus) died in Half-Blood Prince, John used literary alchemy theory to predict that a red-named character would die in Deathly Hallows. This had a lot of us worrying for poor Rubeus Hagrid, and breathing sighs of relief thinking that the prediction just might have been fulfilled with the death of the entirely expendable Rufus Scrimgeour. When Fred Weasley died instead, it was still support for the theory, even if in not quite the way most expected.

Parallel Series Idea, in my opinion, graduated from idea to theory status with the publication of Lethal White. PSI had been previously used to explain why SW centered on a book, and why a bad guy had to be allowed to escape to protect an innocent in CoE. Prior to LW’s publication, Serious Strikers predicted there would be connections to Goblet of Fire, and there were so many, and so obvious–starting with the government minister murdered by the unloved son that he got out of jail– that a lot of us on Hogpro moved from “I think this might be true” to “I am confident this is definitely true.”  The idea became much more widely accepted and discussed, as seen in the Strike and Ellacott Files podcast.

There are a few dangers to using predictions to confirm theories. First, you can make so many predictions that some are liable to come true purely by chance. Second, predictions can be overly broad, and therefore fulfillable by almost anything. Third, — and this a particular danger in the interpretation of literary works, which can be pretty subjective— sometimes people simply see what they want, or expect, to see, and go too far in twisting the reality of the text to match their expectations.

The earlier, and more specific a prediction is, the better support for the theory it provides.  In 2014, after The Silkworm was published, I used the PSI to predict that Strike Four would be set during the London Olympics. When that one came true, in spades, I knew John had come up with a model generates testable, specific and accurate predictions, the hallmarks of a good theory.

With that somewhat lengthy preamble, let me now turn to my main point. My latest 5-6 flip idea—  and it’s only an idea for now, is that Troubled Blood was originally planned as the sixth Strike book.  See link for the rationale.  This idea would explain why I was able to highlight so many Troubled Blood parallels to The Silkworm and Half-Blood Prince, and why there were so many albedo elements in the book we would expect to be the nigredo. As meticulous as JKR is about planning her series, I don’t think she could simply skip an entire novel, with out omitting plotlines necessary in her overall vision. If Troubled Blood was moved to position five, I think at least some elements from the original Book 5 will have to turn up elsewhere, and a logical place for them is in The Ink Black Heart. After the jump, I will first evaluate this idea based on the limited amount we know about the upcoming Strike 6 book, then make some predictions on where IBH might go if this idea is correct. [Read more…]

The “5-6 Flip” Idea, Part 1: Was Troubled Blood Originally Meant as the Sixth Book of the Strike series?

I am typically a lot less interested in Rowling’s tweets than some of my Hogpro colleagues are, with the notable exception of when she drops hints (title reveals, header photo clues, etc.) about upcoming books.  Thus, I paid relatively little attention to the January 2020 tweet from Marilyn Manson thanking Rowling for a gift of roses.  It was only when speculation of what the floral gift might mean for the plot of Book Five of the series began that I took note. Would Marilyn Manson lyrics take the place of the Blue Oyster Cult epigraphs in Career of Evil, as ring structure would predict?  When Manson did not appear in Troubled Blood, I speculated that the roses might have been an apology for Rowling’s change of plans–namely, backing off from using Manson’s music for the series because of the allegations of sexual misconduct filed against him in 2018.

The thing is, Marilyn Manson doesn’t seem to fit into the existing plot of Troubled Blood; he’s too recent to have been a favorite of Margot’s and there aren’t any characters who seem to be the right age or temperament to be fans of his. The logical choice to be a Manson fan is Jeff Whitaker, who was all but absent from TB, despite the fact that, per ring composition, a character who was prominent in Book 3 is a good candidate to appear in Book 5.

This led me to think—  what if there was, originally, a very different Book 5 planned?   There is certainly room for one, with a year-long gap between the end of Lethal White and the start of Troubled Blood. This theoretical missing book could have had much more explicit parallels to Career of Evil. Marilyn Manson epigraphs would lead nicely to Jeff Whittaker and his fondness for Anton LeVay and Satanic rock music, which could, in turn, usher in some of the elements I originally predicted for Book Five:  a Whittaker-Strike rematch, the arrival of young Switch LeVay Bloom Whittaker (who is important enough to the series that the TV production shoe-horned in a mention of him) and possibly the murder of Stephanie, as foretold by Robin’s CoE nightmare. According to this mode;, which I am calling the 5-6 Flip Idea, the original Book 5 plans were shelved or delayed, possibly because of the allegations against Manson. Troubled Blood then took its place as the 5th book and was redeveloped to be the nigredo, rather than albedo, of the series.

Serious Strikers were expecting Book 5 to have parallels to both Career of Evil and Order of the Phoenix, and of course, we found plenty. But, if Troubled Blood was originally intended as Book Six, there should be hints of the original plan left. Just as Strike detected the ghost of a good detective peeking through the scrambled writings of Bill Talbot’s notebook, Serious Strikers ought to be able to discern the remnants of Book Six elements: parallels to The Silkworm and Half-Blood Prince, and albedo features, in the Book Five version of Troubled Blood. I invite HogPro readers to join me in that thought experiment after the jump. [Read more…]