Running Grave: Lethal White Parallels

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to provide an online space for Serious Strikers to share their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we have explored here in the past. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

As I explained in the Cuckoo’s Calling place-holder postRunning Grave should have significant echoing of the fourth book in the series, Lethal White, because thus far the six books have shown the qualities of a seven book ring cycle. Lethal White’s mysterious ‘Part Two’ page, too, being followed as it was by a near step by step retelling of the John Bristoe opening of Calling, points to that book as the story turn whose ending-echo will be found in Strike7, the closing part of the cycle (see ‘The Missing Page Mystery‘ and ‘The Missing Page Mystery, Part Two‘).

Does Running Grave feature another suicide staged by a jealous or angry family member — or a suicide that was staged by the dead person to seem to have been staged? Will we get Rosmersholm echoing with an incest revelation and a herd of spectral White Horses? What made you think, ‘Oh, this is just like Lethal White!’ as you were reading? Share your findings in the comment boxes below!

Running Grave: Deathly Hallows Echoes

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to put up posts for Serious Strikers to write up their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we explore here. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

‘Gaffes’ heads the list because it is the subject that generates the most reader responses. I include the Deathly Hallows parallels at #2 because the Parallel Series Idea — the theory that Rowling has been writing the Strike-Ellacott novels in playful echo of their apposite numbers in the Harry Potter series — has become such a focus of predictions and conversations here and elsewhere. (See the ‘Parallel Series Idea’ Pillar Post for the collection of evidence for the first six books.)

So, did Polworth die like Dobby did in Deathly Hallows as I predicted he would? Let us know the Strike-Potter Book Seven links you see in the comment boxes below!

Running Grave: The Gaffes

It is a feature of to post seven open threads on the day a Rowling-Galbraith novel is published, thereby creating spaces for readers to comment as they make their way through the new book about a variety of topics close to our hearts.

The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

Of these, I place ‘The Gaffes’ in the lead position because it has generated by far the most responses in the past. (Check out the Gaffes posts for Lethal White, Troubled Blood , and Ink Black Heart if you doubt me on that score.) In the two previews we were given — Rowling, Inc’s greatest gaffe jamboree to date, both having to be pulled promptly after publication — the chapters given included several mistakes that readers have noted.

So, have it in the comment boxes below! This shouldn’t need to be said, but of course those concerned about spoilers should not read this thread.

Running Grave Excerpt Released: Seven Questions for Serious Strikers

Yesterday, the first six chapters of Running Grave were published via the ‘Look Inside’ feature of the book’s page on The Rowling Library has posted the pages as a pdf and created a forum for those wanting to discuss the revelations. If you wish to remain spoiler free until the day of actual publication, you’ll want to steer clear of those pages and all of what follows. Farewell to those heading to the exits!

I have seven questions consequent to a late-night reading of the excerpts which questions I post below for anyone interested. My very tentative attempts at answers are posted at the Substack site, where I have invited my colleagues there to check in with their own perspectives if they are so inclined.

Without further ado, then, here are my seven questions:

  1. Do you think Rowling, Inc., meant for Amazon to release the first fifty-three pages of text this way? Was it Troubled Blood that had an unintentional big drop via Apple in a similar ‘mistake’? Or is this just super clever marketing, a ‘found treasure’?
  2. There’s no Dylan Thomas epigraph; what happened?
  3. The novel begins with an epistolary montage of letters between a distraught family, lawyers, the disaffected son, and the anti-cult survivor. What did you think of it as a story-starter? It’s been a while since we had the case presented so forcefully in the opening — since Cuckoo?
  4. What do you make of the baptism reception for Robin and Strike’s first appearance? 
  5. Egad, The Universal Humanitarian Church or UHC! Would you have guessed the first religious target of Rowling’s treatment would be a group like this? 
  6. Kevin believed there is authentic capability to contact or conjure the dead; given the history of Rowling’s pointers to spectral influence in her novels a la Nabokov, do you think we’ll be ‘going there’? Seances, tarot card readings, I Ching consultations, say, to hear from Kevin? From Leda?
  7. Here’s the grab-bag question: Do you see anything here that suggests parallels with Deathly Hallows? Cuckoo’s Calling? Lethal White? Career of Evil? What about our mythological templates and Evan’s ten book theory? Are we on our way to a separation in the finale, one that will last two books?

Feel free to comment below, though the main discussion will be over at the HogwartsProfessor Substack site!

Beasts2 — and Phantom of the Opera?

A thought from Randall:

Just re-watched the 2004 Warner Brothers film version of “The Phantom of the Opera” and was struck by (anti-)parallels to the 2018 Warner Brothers film, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

In “Phantom,” Erik is a deformed boy imprisoned in a freak show in Paris. A young girl (the future Madame Giry) feels pity for him, so when he strangles his handler/jailer, she helps him escape into a crowd. Erik becomes the Phantom, living underground in the dark, and continues to kill.

In “Crimes,” Nagini is a blood-cursed girl imprisoned in the Circus Arcanus, in Paris. A young man (Aurelius Dumbledore) feels pity for her, so when she attacks her handler/jailer (Skender), he helps her escape into a crowd. Nagini eventually becomes permanently trapped in snake form, serving Lord Voldemort, living concealed in mostly dark places, and continues to kill.

Maybe we will see more (anti-)parallels, if and when J.K. Rowling publishes more of the “Fantastic Beasts” story. Maybe others have noticed these (anti-)parallels; I did a search but did not find any mentions of them.

This reminds me of the reader who wrote that the Gloria Conti “termination” of mobster Luca Ricci’s child was a simple re-telling of the Godfather, Part II, plot in which Katherine “Kay” Corleone (née Adams) aborts the child of her husband, Michael Corleone. Rowling-Galbraith’s character enjoys a much happier fate than Kay. I cannot find the email or post comment in which the reader shared this; apologies all around on that point.

I wonder if Potter Pundits and Serious Strikers, in our common denominator text-source focus are not overlooking the influence of much more popular culture, blockbuster movies, on Rowling’s imagination. I know it’s something I never choose to explore, largely because I know very little about movies (I have not seen either Phantom of the Opera or any of the Godfather films) and I am not a fan of the medium.

The thing is, Rowling drops repeated references to the Godfather movies and their influence on Gloria Conti in Troubled Blood, to include that character’s resistance to seeing Part II. If these had been book teases, I would have definitely been reading them because of the strong indicators that these references were bread crumbs dropped by the author as helpful clues.

A movie? It never occurred to me to watch the Godfather films or even read about them on Wikipedia.

Thank you, Randall, for throwing light in my most glaring media blind-spot!