Strike & Ellacott Files: ‘Epigraph Misattribution in Ink Black Heart’

Louise Freeman has her finger on the pulse of Cormoran Strike fandom and relays on the HogwartsProfessor staff backchannels news of any important discoveries out there. Today she wrote us a note with the subject line ‘Some Gaffes We Never Caught’ about a post by Lindsay Land at the Strike and Ellacott Files. That post, titled ‘Epigraph Misattribution in Ink Black Heart.’ reveals they “found five misattributed epigraphs. Four of them are the correct author but the wrong title, while one has the incorrect author and title.” The article does not discuss the meaning (or lack of meaning) in these “misattributions” but it very helpfully details the mistaken allusions and provides links to the poems and authors in play.

Professor Freeman’s subject line is in reference to the HogwartsProfessor staff and readership collective collection of mistakes in the Strike novels, mistakes we usually call “gaffes” or “Flints.” The thread of finds for Ink Black Heart is a long one (you can check it out here), but it, as Louise noted, does not include the epigraph mistakes that the ‘Strike and Ellacott Files’ podcast crew has found. Lindsay Land wrote in response to Prof Freeman’s comment after the post that “I guess with so many, it’s going to happen.” The six mistakes — Beatrice Groves had found another misattribution in the epigraph to chapter 51 – are indeed six out of one hundred and eight, but isn’t a 5.5% error rate still extraordinary, as Louise Freeman put it, “with a writer as meticulous as Rowling”?

I don’t know if she is being sarcastic given her awareness of Rowling’s many mistakes in continuity and finer points (as in the difference, say, between Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.), but it’s still a question worth asking: “What, if anything, are we to make of these mistakes?” Join me after the jump for some shameless brainstorming and speculation consequent to this great find at Strike & Ellacott Files. [Read more…]

Strike Series Rankings: The Final Tally

Kurt Schreyer posted a challenge to his Cormoran Strike loving followers on social media to rank the six mysteries from most favorite to least favorite. You can read his summary of the challenge responses he received from his dinner guests and twitter audience as well as his own ranking of the six Strike novels here.

Seven of us who write at HogwartsProfessor responded to this idea with posts that included both rankings and our reasoning and criteria for preferring certain books to others. I started the task here and was followed by Beatrice Groves, Nick Jeffery, Louise Freeman, Chris Calderon, Evan Willis, and Elizabeth Baird-Hardy.

Join me after the jump for a tabulation of our rankings here, a comparison with the first twitter responses, and a few ideas about the various approaches Serious Strikers have taken to rank the series entries thus far with an eye to their merits and demerits. [Read more…]

Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s Strike Favorites

In the interest of being as un-influenced as possible, I have collected my list of Strike novels, ranked from leastCormoran Strike Series 6 Books Collection Set Robert Galbraith NEW Paperbck 2022 | eBay favorite to favorite, without looking at anyone else’s list. I look forward to seeing how my fellow professors here at HogPro list the books, as I have been scrupulously careful to avoid seeing them yet. As with any list, there is always room for debate. While I always enjoy those countdown lists on the radio, usually around New Year’s, I often find myself shouting at some faceless host who has the gall to rank one of my favorite songs outside the top ten on the list of “Greatest 80s Songs,” so I understand the complexities of lists and personal opinions.

In ranking the adventures of our favorite Denmark Street detectives, I am considering my own tastes and interests, of course, as well as what seem to be more empirical standards. It is worth noting that I do not consider an error (like some we have noticed and discussed here over the years, unsurprising considering the amount of text covered by these books) to be an automatic reason to devalue a book or move it down the list. I find that all the novels are worthwhile, so even my Number 6 is not a bad book; I just like the others better, and there is something I like very much in each book, just as there are aspects I don’t like as much. While my number 1 book has not changed since its publication and is likely to remain my favorite in perpetuity, I have found some of the others shifting position on my list, and they may continue to move about with time. I do look forward to discussing all of our lists to see where we differ and concur. Since  I have not read anyone else’s lists, mine may be more or less detailed. So join me after the jump for my humble (and spoiler-laden)contribution to the Strike Ranking Extravaganza! [Read more…]

Evan Willis- Strike Series Ranking

Continuing our series of Hogwarts Professor staff posts ranking the Strike books, I’ll be adding my thoughts to the mix. (After which, I will be interestedly reading through everybody else’s posts, eager to hear what they thought and how they evaluated the texts!)

My method here will be informed by my general tendencies when reading. I struggle with texts if they are considered by themselves alone, independent of other texts. The more I can practice what Mortimer Adler called Syntopical reading, reading texts together in each other’s light, the better I will enjoy and gain from any given book. I will, therefore, tend to rank texts higher when they play a pivotal role narratively in a series, or when the motifs or structure of a text is well illumined by or illuminating of other texts, or most generally when they reward Syntopical reading. The degree to which a book is fundamentally about how one reads, as in the common text-within-a-text of Rowling’s writing, also act favorably in my evaluation. This is not the only standard applied, of course, but in evaluating these books this aspect came up most frequently. In no small part, what follows is just the degree of enjoyment I had while reading each of them, such that the justifications below might not be as airtight as they could be. Ranking follows after the jump, starting from last place and continuing to first.

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Louise Freeman — Strike Series Ranking

I decided to do my Strike book rankings in a Dance Moms-style pyramid, because, for me, there is one clear favorite, two great second tiers, and then the rest. I choose the books by which ones I actually enjoyed reading, and re-reading, most.

The favorite: 1. Lethal White. Its position as the midway story turn of our presumed seven series, Potter-parallel series gives this volume a place of its own.  After the high body count and gruesome killings and woman-directed violence of Career of Evil, Lethal White was a like a breath of fresh air. I also have a personal fondness for this book, having predicted years in advance that the London Olympics would form the background, and having speculated on the pre-book predictions podcast that Robin would get to don her Green Dress again for a Yule Ball type event. My chance googling of the name Rattenbury was one of the luckiest “strikes” I ever made in the world of literary sleuthing. And, this book, with its dozens of connections to Goblet of Fire, this book was proof positive of the parallels with Harry Potter.

Other high points: the addition of Barclay to the team, Robin’s undercover action as both Venetia Hall and Bobbi Cunliffe, Strike being there for his critically ill nephew Jack and Robin being there for him, the recurrent white horse motif, the connection to Ibsen’s Rosmersholm, Robin’s A Doll’s House-like dumping of the Flobberworm, and Strike first comforting her on the verge, then buying her a mini-champagne to toast her newfound freedom. Overall, this book was a ideal balance of mystery, action, romance and humor. (“Maybe you should put that on your next employee satisfaction review. ‘Not as f*cking annoying as the woman who shagged my husband.’ I’ll have it framed.”) I think it’s the audiobook  I’ve re-listened to more than any other.

I debated considerably over the next two slots, but I finally decided on 2. The Ink Black Heart and 3. Troubled Blood. These two volumes have a lot in common, starting with their length. It is clear Robert Galbraith was given full freedom to tell the tale he wanted to tell, with minimal editorial interference. The sheer complexity of the cases and the numbers of potential suspects set these two volumes off from the rest of the series. I also like the complexity of the ring composition, with both books having multiple connections to both The Silkworm and Career of Evil, enough to trigger the 5-6 flip hypothesis.

In many ways, I like the content of Troubled Blood better. The cold case was intriguing, it was great to delve more into Strike’s Cornish life and share the heartbreak of Joan’s death and the loss of Ilsa’s baby. Pat was a great addition to the team. Seeing Strike mentally out-duel Creed in the psychiatric hospital was the best good versus evil showdown since Harry and Voldemort circled each other in the Great Hall. And, the whiskey-fueled, best friends talk is right up there with the talk on the verge in terms of Strike-Robin moments to savor. This moment, followed by Barclay’s hilariously ill-timed interruption and Robin’s final disposal of the loathsome Saul Morris to create a trio of satisfying scenes. I also love the trip to Skegness, the bonding over fish and chips and the way Strike follows it up with the balloon donkey.

But, there is plenty to love about The Ink Black Heart as well. I think this book takes the prize for the most Easter eggs to be found upon re-reading. Unlike a lot of readers, I liked the chat room format; I thought the audio-book reveal of the Anomie-Paperwhite connection was particularly well done. The fact that the killer was Anomie and that he was confident enough in his anonymous persona to confess to the murder online multiple times makes his eventual unmasking all the more satisfying. I love that both Robin and Pat got moments to shine in emergency situations, that both Strike and Robin have officially acknowledged their feelings for each other, and that Strike gave Charlotte what may finally be the final heave-ho, after realizing she is not capable of genuine love or compassion, not even for her own children. Contrast that to Robin’s approach to vulnerable characters like Zoe, Flavia and Rachel, and you can see why Strike finally opened his eyes. I don’t think its coincidence that the long-awaited pelican Christ-symbol/ sacrificial mother love representation finally appeared in this book, as a favorite Highgate headstone of foster child Edie Ledwell.  “Morehouse” is certainly one of the more tragic figures of the series. Strike’s sleepover at Robin’s and their subsequent trip to the seaside were all great reads. But what I think I like most is Strike’s own self-improvement efforts: in addition to shrugging off Charlotte, he is giving up smoking, losing weight and trying to care for his leg properly. I share John’s hope that Strike will continue this path in the next book with an upgrade to a better prosthesis.

Why did IBH edge out TB?  Find out after the jump. [Read more…]