The True Taxonomy of Leda-Killer Suspects: Why Sir Randolph Whittaker is a Likely Culprit.

A few posts back, I made a case for Dr. Nick Herbert as the Leda-Slayer. My goal was not so much to convince the world the Nick Did It and to point out that a very similar case can be made for Nick as for Dave Polworth. 

The flip side of that is, the same arguments against Dave also apply to Nick— with the possible exception of Nick being more likely to know how to give an injection. 

Truthfully, I don’t really think either Nick or Dave did it. I am not by nature a betting person, but if someone forced me to put down a fiver on someone, my top suspect would be a character who has so far gotten exactly one mention in the series: Sir Randolph Whittaker, also known around here as Grandpa Whittaker, or Old Man Whittaker.  Here is my reasoning.

Assuming Leda was, in fact murdered, the suspects for the dirty deed  fall into two broad categories.  

Bad People We Are Supposed to Suspect:  (AKA Black Hats) This include Jonny Rokeby, Jeff Whittaker, Charlotte Campell, Jago Ross, Shumba-the-Rastafarian-Who-Was-Nasty-Enough-to-Make-Uncle-Ted-Want-to-Punch-Him, Some-Yet-Unknown-Person-from-the-Worst-Place-Ever-Norfolk-Commune-That-Keeps-Getting-Mentioned, and all of the Whittaker Extended Family.

Good People We Are Not Supposed to Suspect (AKA White Hats): Uncle Ted, Aunt Joan, Sister Lucy, and good friends Nick Herbert, Ilsa (maiden name unknown at time of murder), Dave Polworth and Shanker. I will also include two Associate White Hats, not because Strike is particularly close to them, but because, if they were involved, it would have been for White Hat Lucy’s sake:  Her biological father Rick Fantoni and her now-husband Greg (whom she may or may not have known when she was nineteen). 

Following the jump, I’ll look closer at my classification system and explain my reasoning. 

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Troubled Blood: The Dark Sides to Two Old Mates

One of the most notable moments of Troubled Blood was when Strike acknowledged Robin as his “best mate.” Up until that moment, Robin had assumed that title belonged to Dave Polworth; other readers might have assumed it was Nick Herbert. By the end of Troubled Blood, however, both men have shown their darker sides. It is easy to see why Robin has been promoted to best bud as well as detective partner.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Dave’s service in this book. His assistance to Joan, Ted, Strike and Lucy was admirable, He provided physical help– everything from home repairs to taking them food in the flood to, most importantly, leading the team that escorted Lucy and Strike through the floodwaters so they could be at Joan’s deathbed. And, he gave Strike and Ted emotional support, through his pub invitations, serving as a pallbearer and his presence at the scattering of Joan’s ashes. He is a loyal friend, through and through. 

But, like Strike, he’s a bit of a jerk at times. His hyper-nationalism, to to point of wanting to restrict the purchase of property in Cornwall to those who can prove ancestry, is off-putting, even to Strike. He’ll win no awards as either Husband- or Father -of-the-Year. He’s an excessively permissive parent, allowing his girls to run wild, even at a funeral wake. He had no qualms about quitting his job and uprooting his family, without even the decency to consult his wife about the plan first. And, in his opening scene in the book, he laid his misogynistic streak bare for the world to see, acknowledging that he saw marriage, first and foremost, as a cheap and convenient path to regular sex. All in all, despite his service to the Nancarrows, I found myself liking this version of Dave Polworth less than I did the guy who made several icy dives in search of Liz Tassel’s typewriter. 

But, there’s another “old mate” of Strike’s who goes down several notches for me in Troubled Blood: his London schoolmate and man of the always-free-spare-room, Nick Herbert.  I’ll tell you why after the jump. 

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Help Save Tolkien’s Northmoor Home

Project Northmoor Overview from Brian Boyd on Vimeo.

Go to ProjectNorthmoor.org for more information about the effort to create a Tolkien landmark site and museum and how you can help.

Hat tip to Karen!

Hidden (and obvious) Treasures on the Robert Galbraith Website

One of the great benefits of the sales numbers of the Strike novels, including Troubled Blood, is that there are some nice resources available for both casual fans and serious readers. And one of the wonderful aspects of the “old days” of Harry Potter excitement was the delightful Rowling website where we discovered her inspiration sketches and outtakes by watering virtual plants or making calls on a The Cuckoo's Calling readalongvirtual flip phone and where forthcoming books titles were revealed in Christmas decorations. While the “grown-up” Robert Galbraith website does not have quite as many (literal) bells and whistles (really, I tried my best to make those R and G type pieces spin or turn into something else), it does have some nice little tidbits that are both fun and useful for our serious reading adventures. If you have not already, you can sign up for the newsletter here as well. Join me after the jump for a review of some of the site features as well as a few wishes for forthcoming offerings at the online home of our Denmark heroes and their pseudonym-wielding creator.

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Graham Norton Welcomes Rowling to Discuss The Ickabog this Saturday

Britain’s Radio 2 and Graham Norton welcome J.K. Rowling on this Saturday’s show.

On November 14, J.K. Rowling joins Graham Norton on his BBC 2 show. She’ll be discussing The Ickabog, which is being released this week in a tasty hardback after being enjoyed in dainty online bites over many weeks. Both those who have yet to dig into the fairy tale and those who savored its Dickensian serial-release process can enjoy the bound edition, which is illustrated with art created by young readers whose work was submitted through the competition headed by Rowling’s team of international publishers. The proceeds of The Ickabog will go to charity, specifically Volant, which is aiding in Covid-19 relief.

If you’d like to hear Rowling chat with Graham Norton (and some other fun, book-related conversations, too!), visit the BBC2 website at 10 am (5 am EST for folks in the the U.S. Sorry) Saturday