Lethal White: Have You Got Your Copy?

It is Lethal White publication day at last! I have three questions for you about what you’re doing and thinking about today, a day something like Christmas in September for Galbraith readers and Serious Strikers.

(1) Did your local bookseller carry Lethal White? The OKC airport book store where I scored three copies of Career of Evil several days in advance of publication in 2015, not only didn’t have early release Lethal White first editions for purchase, they had also opted out of selling the book in its first month of availability. More shocking, Full Circle Bookstore, the largest independent bookseller in Oklahoma didn’t have copies but “we would be happy to order one for you.” I was sent an ePub version yesterday and bought a 30% copy at Barnes and Noble this morning. I’m guessing the Amazon and B&N deep discounts kept the smaller poutlets from trying to compete.

(2) What is your plan for reading Lethal WhiteI had the day off today, so I started reading my ePub version late last night when I got off work at my Muggle job and read until 4:00 this morning. When I woke up, my wife gave me the hard cover edition and I read until 7:00 PM for my first read-through. I’ll start posting on content and charting the 69 chapters with prologue and epilogue tomorrow. How are you tackling Strike4?

(3) What Lethal White questions do you have and which topics are you most interested in discussing in the coming weeks at HogwartsProfessor.com? Yes, there is a lot of ‘white horse’ material to sort through (Ibsen!) and I’ll definitely be doing a score-card review of our plot predictions vs Galbraith’s actual story, a post on the Goblet of Fire and Cuckoo’s Calling echoes in Strike 4, a listing of the Twitter picture headers that showed up in text, and some short pieces on throwaway references in Lethal White to a coffee cup with an image of Johnny Cash and to paintings by Stubbs (allusions, I think, to novels by Margery Allingham and P. D. James). But, as we leave the gate on the back of white horses for a month of Lethal White running conversation, what do you want to talk about?

Enjoy your first reading — and please take a minute to share your experience and preferences in the comment boxes below!

Fifteen Things That Have to Happen in ‘Lethal White’ (With Ten Fun Predictions Pre-Publication for the Serious Striker)

Less than a day until we can read Lethal White! Here are my promised lists of the things that almost have to happen, because they occur in every Strike novel, and my predictive wish-list, the events I think could happen and I kinda sort of hope will happen.

The Fifteen Things that Have to Happen in Lethal White

  1. Crime-Detection-Solution: There is a murder committed and Cormoran and Robin figure it out. Duh.
  2. The News Media is Shown in a Bad Light: Reporters are slimy, border-line criminal agents who hound the innocent and bend the truth to their own ends. Strike’s Denmark Street offices will be the scene in Lethal White of journalists and photographers accosting Robin and Cormoran as it has in the first three books.
  3. The Metropolitan Police Fail Again: We’re promised time with a new cop, Vanessa Ekensi, in Lethal White, a character given significant play in the teevee adaptation of Career.  I doubt very much, though, that she will prove in the end to be any more helpful than Carver, Anstis, and Wardle have been. Strike will have to find a way to prove the murderer’s guilt outside the theory accepted by the Met.
  4. Leg Issues: Strike will once again re-injure or otherwise struggle with his amputated leg.
  5. Matt and Robin Will Fight: She sleeps on the couch at least one night in every book. The question in White, though, seems to be if she will leave the loser at last when she learns what he did to her phone before their wedding in Career.
  6. Sex-Dead Body-Police: Strike is lucky with the ladies but fornication with the lovely seems to bring him some bad luck. He tends to find a dead body after such trysts and wind up being interrogated by the Met on the next day (note the English Renaissance poetic conceit of conflating sex and death, not to mention the universal joining of sinful pleasure and punishment).
  7. Robin Promotion: Whether she remains Ms Ellacott or Mrs Cunliffe in Lethal White, the fourth book will end with her elevated status in Strike’s office (yes, assuming that the firing near the end of Career only cemented her true-partner status in the firm).
  8.  Shanker Re-Dux: Every book has given us more of Strike’s childhood chum. Here’s hoping that Lethal White will explain the “favor” Strike “called in” in Cuckoo to get information to trade for the Lula Landry file — remember, Shanker does nothing for free, not even for Brother Strike — and why Strike felt he had to ask Shanker in Career if he’d finked on him to Digger Malley. Was Shanker somehow part of the Joint Ops between SIB and the Met Vice Squad back in the day? He’s a known drug dealer after all.
  9. Profanity: Robin will say “Bugger” or “Sod you.” Strike will bellow “Bollucks.”
  10. Leda’s Death: The narrative slow release about the circumstances of the death of Strike’s mother will continue. Who found the body? What happened at the funeral? Her estate amounted to what exactly?
  11. SIB Data: We will learn in Lethal White as we have in every bhook so far more of Strike’s memories about his career as an Special Investigative Branch soldier. There’s a trip to Angola, time in Bosnia, a case in Iraq, and of course the “wrongful death” investigation in Afghanistan that we know nothing about except that the last cost him half a leg. How about the medal he earned?
  12. The Charlotte Virus: In every book Strike feels the stirrings of his feelings for Charlotte. He describes it as a virus which has reservoired in his body, a disease that prevents him from having real feelings for and relationships with other women. Look for an outbreak of this illness in Lethal White.
  13. Psychological Condition: We learn about a mundane or relatively exotic psychological condition in every Strike novel. Rochelle and Lula had their issues in Cuckoo (not to mention “bat shit insane” Bristow), Orlando is mentally challenged in Silkworm (and every writer and publisher is a narcissist), and we meet people in Career, the trans-abled, who want to cut off their own limbs. The excerpt from Lethal White published in The Guardian has already shown us ‘Billy,’ a character with a tic of sorts that Louise Freeman tells me may be “motor stereoptypy rather than a true tic.” Robin and Deebee Mack studied psychology — and we should see more fruits of that in White.
  14. Epigraphs: Before every chapter and Part of the book not written by a psychopath. We have a clue that this Strike adventure will feature Catullus; we can be almost sure, though, that there will quotation headers as there have been in the first three books, from Virgil to Jacobean Revenge Dramas to Blue Oyster Cult.
  15. Childhood Chum: Strike, if Lethal White is like the first three books, will feature a meeting or conversation with a friend Strike made in Cornwall or London as a boy. Me? I’m rooting for his best mate, Dave Polworth, to make an appearance in Strike 4, especially if Charlotte returns (Dave understands she is bad news…).

There’s more, of course, and I hope you’ll add your ‘Have to Happen’ nominees in the comment boxes below before reading Lethal White. How about Galbraith showing us the murderer in the central chapter of every book so far? (be sure to count the chapters and mark the middle before you begin reading Lethal White early tomorrow morning). And a birthday, funeral, wedding ‘formal family event’?

On to the SWAGs! [Read more…]

Lethal White and Strike Speculation 101: The Trouble with JKR/Galbraith Dates Heroin Dark Lord 2.0: The IED Explosion

Joanne Gray recently and brilliantly blew up my Heroin Dark Lord 1.0 Big Back Story theory with her observation that Strike could not have been blown up by Digger Malley in retaliation for his testimony as a Red Cap against the Harringay Crime Syndicate in 2008 because Strike tells us flat out in Part 1, Chapter 7 (p 53) of Cuckoo’s Calling that his foot “had been ripped from his leg two and a half-years before.” StrikeFans’ timeline puts that thought of Strike as 30 March 2010. ‘Two years six months’ prior to that is September 2007.

I want to try and re-figure ‘Heroin Dark Lord’ before we read Lethal White, but it hasn’t been easy. The deeper you get into the Strike stories, the more frustrating it can be to make the dates line up. That Strike struggles with Charlotte’s dates concerning her pregnancy — it is the cause given for his ‘final’ break with her — makes this problem curious and perhaps meaningful, I’ll allow. Rowling likes to have her characters struggle with problems the reader is having as well.

But still, some of the date problems are just mistakes the author has made and the editor didn’t catch. [See this post for three mistakes in Cuckoo’s Calling alone if you think Rowling and Company don’t sometimes sleep at the wheel.]

My first task here, then, consequent to Joanne Gray’s find, is to answer the question, “Can we get an exact date for the Viking troop carrier blow up in Afghanistan?” My tentative answers are ‘Maybe.’ And ‘Sort of.’ [Read more…]

Rowling Offers ‘Lethal White’ Play List: Andrea Ross’s ‘White Horses’ For Robin

Go right to the source and ask the horse,

He’ll give you an answer that you endorse.

We here at Hogwartsprofessor have been chomping at the bit for three years waiting for Lethal White, and speculating about the title meaning since we heard it. Beatrice Groves has done a marvelous investigation of all possible white horse connections: from art, to Biblical imagery to poetry to archeology. Not having her knowledge–see my decidedly un-scholarly epigraph, above–I’m going to share something from “Mr. Galbraith’s” recent interview in the New York Times. The reclusive veteran thoughtfully provided a playlist for the novel.

There are eight songs or pieces of music mentioned in the novel that should be on the playlist: “Cutt Off” by Kasabian , “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley , “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling , Rihanna’s “Where Have you Been,” “ Ni**as In Paris” by Kanye West and Jay-Z and “Oliver Twist” by D’Banj , “Black Trombone” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, C Minor .

I’d add “So Long Marianne” by Leonard Cohen for Strike and Charlotte, “Heroes,” by David Bowie for the Olympic backdrop and “White Horses” by Andrea Ross , not only for the book’s leitmotif, but for Robin, and a romantic, innocent girl’s idea of adventure and freedom. (emphasis added)

After I got over my delight at seeing the phrase “Olympic backdrop,” I started looking up some of the songs.  When I googled “White Horses lyrics,” I landed not on the Andrea Ross tune, but White Horse, by Taylor Swift.  Check out these prophetic words:

[Read more…]

Super Lethal White Speculation Podcast! Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 14: Cormoran Strike – and Harry Potter?

Tuesday morning, just after midnight or later in the day when your bookstore opens for business, we’ll all be reading Strike 4, aka Lethal White, the latest Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike whudunnit. I have the day off from my Muggle job Tuesday and, no, I won’t be answering email or cell phone calls. It’s like a throw back to Midnight Madness parties and the anticipation of a first reading of a Harry Potter novel… and those are happy memories for Rowling fans, right?

I will, of course, be posting on a daily basis here about Lethal White from late on the 18th and the days following for at least a month. Until Tuesday, though, what are we to do?

Marietta College’s History professor and Potter Pundit Katy McDaniel, the host of MuggleNet’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast anticipated our frustration in the waning moments of the Great Wait and recorded a conversation among three Strike Scholars, Karen Kebarle, Louise Freeman, and myself, about all things Cormoran with special emphasis on what we can expect in Lethal White. It was a ‘wow’ meeting of minds and I recommend it to anyone wishing for an appetizer beyond the excerpt teaser published yesterday in The Guardian.

Dr. McDaniel describes the podcast conversation this way:

J.K. Rowling’s second literary career as Robert Galbraith acts as a commentary on her Harry Potter series and also sets out on a new literary path. With guests Dr. Karen Kebarle and Dr. Louise Freeman, Katy and John examine the connections between the Harry Potter series and the first three Cormoran Strike novels. J.K. Rowling’s artistic signatures appear in the detective novels, in particular via the classical literary allusions that appear in both. Do apparent correspondences reveal more than just that the same mind created both Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike (or the reader’s tendency to see connections everywhere)? An understanding of mythology and ancient literature helps us ponder where the detective series might be headed in the fourth book, due out in mid-September.

Some fans have made the leap from Harry Potter to Cormoran Strike, but others have not. Our conversation explores why this second series has received less popular and scholarly attention, as well as the compelling qualities of the novels – the characters and relationships, plotting, descriptions of modern London, and themes – that have drawn us to them. We also contemplate the larger story arc: Is this essentially a romance between Cormoran and Robin? Does Strike have a “Moriarty” foil who will eventually become important? What will we learn about Cormoran’s father and mother?

Predicting where J.K. Rowling is heading with the series is tricky, but close readings of the previous books, her social media clues, Lethal White’s synopsis, and Rowling’s slow narrative release in the Harry Potter books point us in certain key directions. Do you think we got it right?

If that’s not enough, check out my post ‘Lethal White: What We Can Expect‘ and my most recent speculations about the White Horse idea with which Rowling has been teasing us vis a vis Lethal White in ‘Heroin Dark Lord.’

On Monday I’ll share my Day-Before-Publication ‘List of Ten Things that Have to Happen’ and my ‘Off-The-Wall Prediction List’ of the things I’d love to see in Lethal White. Let me know what you think of the MuggleNet podcast — and stay tuned for an exciting week of Strike posts here at HogwartsProfessor!