Ink Black Heart Discussion will be focused for some time on discussion of Rowling-Galbraith’s Ink Black Heart. To facilitate Reader discussion of anticipated subjects in the first weeks and the easy access to the many posts about Strike6 that are almost sure to come, I have created a placeholder for everything written here about this author’s longest work to date under a single link, ‘Ink Black Heart Discussion,’ that can be found at the top of the site’s home page’s Pillar Post left column. Enjoy!

First Impressions:

The Gaffes

Silkworm Parallels

Half-Blood Prince Parallels

The Alchemical Albedo

Psychomachia: Jung or Shakespeare?

The Epigraphs

The Tell Tale Heart

Rowling and Fandoms


Rowling’s “Double-Voiced” Text: A Literary Vocation vs Biology and Culture

Strike Characters on Twitter


Structural Notes and Speculations

‘Strike Extended Play’

5-6 Flip IBH Update


Analysis and Theories

‘Daddy Strike:’ Have Strike and Mads Conceived a Child?

The Scent of Narciso: the Mythic Backdrop


  1. Wayne Stauffer says

    How does the announcement that the Strike series will be a 10-part sequence upset the previous analysis of it as a 7-part ring structure?

  2. Hi, Wayne! As has been noted repeatedly here, Rowling’s assertions that there will be more than seven Strike novels has little to no bearing on the significant evidence that the series’ first seven books were conceived and are being written as a ring cycle of seven parts. The Harry Potter books largely ended with their seventh part but there is no requirement that a series of seven books cannot continue after its first cycle of books.

    The best challenge to the seven book series idea is Louise Freeman’s Pentagram model, not the diversionary efforts of Rowling and Company to obscure the Parallel Series Idea and Rowling’s alchemical and self-referential ring artistry. We’ll be discussing Louise’s model in light of Ink Black Heart as well as her 5-6 Flip idea, I hope in comment threads beneath her updates of these ideas!

  3. Got the latest Strike today, dedicated to JK’s friends, bulwarks against anomie. I had to look up anomie. Social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values; personal unrest, alienation and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals. Empty, meaningless, and intrinsically unsatisfying.

    It’s 1000 pages. That’ll do wonders for my Dupuytren’s Contracture. Good thing I got those new thumb-bracing gloves. I read chapter one last night, sitting at my desk. She started off with a bang! Right to the heart of the matter of Strike and Robin, dancing around their attraction to one another, enjoying cocktails at The Rivoli Bar in the London Ritz. Until they could barely walk and barely refrain from kissing. That restraint stayed with them both for at least five days. Yessir, just the way I like it. My favorite part of the story. No mystery there.

    Arrrgh! JK got clever and lost me on chapter 2. I skipped most of it. Hope I didn’t miss any critical parts of the mystery. She went tech on me, like two possible/not possible characters texting each other. Very confusing for an old guy such as myself. Like Sam Shepard said before he succumbed to ALS, these young guys are leaving me in the dust.

    By page 72 on the third day of my read, my excitement waned. Sad was I that this was so. I went to bed expecting to return the book as its subject was simply not my cup o’tea. There’s a trend in movies to make the audience look at iPhones, texts, emails, on-screen to relay information and move the story along. I can barely look at my own phone to comprehend what’s going on, let alone someone else’s phone, and if I do, I can barely comprehend. This morning I paged ahead to see what was in store for me text-wise. I wasn’t happy with what I found. So much for The Ink Black. My heart just isn’t into it. I’ll go blind while I become hopelessly confused. I’ll say this for JK, she did it well, but too much for one such as I. Well, hell, I’ve got six books waiting on my desk and I figure I’ll be able to pick up the next volume without losing track of my hero & heroine. I will miss them for now, though. Adieu, my friends and best to you both.

  4. I just finished chapter 17 and LOVING this book so far. It’s eerie, comical, and masterfully crafted. As a late millennial (turning 30 this fall), the chatroom dialogues are impressively composed, compelling, and realistic.

    I’ll mention here that I’ve been feeling inclined to avoid Hogwartsprofessor pretty much all week, which is a bummer for me. I want to be able to discuss the book as I read it, but several of the articles being posted are spoiling significant details that I haven’t yet read. Maybe as a suggestion, each article can begin with a quick note of how far along into the book someone ought to be before reading ahead?

    On the bright side, I’m further motivated to read faster so I can join in on all the conversation!

  5. All the pieces at HogwartsProfessor assume you have read the book in question unless stated otherwise.

    Anyone with spoiler issues should stay well away until he or she has finished the novel in play, for the next weeks meaning Ink Black Heart.

  6. Did any other readers wonder if Rowlbraith set Strike up for a prescription-opioid addiction? I noticed there were far more references to his wishing for painkillers as TIBH wound down, in marked comparison to his past approach of ice, paracetamol and whiskey, when ignoring the pain stopped working. With all of the behavioral and economic consequences that can result from opiate addiction, this could easily provide new fuel to continue the motifs of Strike’s denial of both physical and emotional pain, and Robin’s growing competence and confidence as an investigator, in ways that could cause both characters to STILL refuse their feelings for each other. The Ink Black Heart really set up Robin’s growing role as an essential part of the agency’s success, her dedication to her work, her critical awareness of moments when Strike’s decisions differ from her own *and*, even so, her commitment to backing Strike and covering his a** in her role as his partner. So much potential there if he starts overdoing the meds or mixing them with whiskey – yikes. I predict something connected to these themes in the next book, and I’m also wondering- if Charlotte found her way to the farty couch (May it Rest In Peace), can Sarah Shadlock be far behind?

  7. Sophie Wan
    Could any of you tell me where is the muglenet or the Leaky Cauldron?I can’t find them.

  8. Did anyone make the Darcy connection on first read? The name comes up three times – Katya talking to Gus, the Reddit naming and shaming and Nicole’s boyfriend’s sister… Together that gives you the killer.

    Also, was I the only one who thought Lepine’s Disciple was LordDrek on Twitter? I thought the L. D. initials were a clue. Was that a red herring?

  9. Thinking about the cartoon a bit more, and her comments in the Q&A about a cartoon with a particularly toxic fandom, I’m wondering if “Drek & Harty” could be analogous to “Rick & Morty”. The callous cynic corrupting the naive protagonist.

  10. Louise Freeman says

    Darcy jumped out at me from the start because it was one of the names I had predicted would be used in this book under the 5-6 flip model, since it means “Dark” — the nigredo counterpart to the albedo-sounding “Margot” (“pearl” ) in Troubled Blood. She was not as major a character as I had expected, but she was, in a way, the crucial “final clue” that revealed the killer.


  11. I think what’s far more likely is a 7 book series whose Burckhardtian inversion of the alchemical chiasm gets re-ephasized in the last three as a trumpet blast, alchemical trio.

    Something like:

    (1) an opening sonata or allegro, stating themes
    (2-4) a slow movement, such as andante
    (5-7) a minuet or scherzo with trio
    (8-10) an allegro, rondo, or sonata

    In this way, the allegro would re-empahsize the stated themes of 1 and played out in the others. Perhaps this doesn’t work as well, but she does seem to be the kind of writer who overlays thematic outlines on top of one another.

    However rigorous, it still gets messy. That’s why analogy and inference grows enjoyable.

  12. Lucas Medeiros Pagani says

    I guessed early on that Worm was Zozo because of the punctuation. I also realized Grant’s daughter was that tweeter the first time her name appeared. About Anomie, though, I was surprised to find out it was Gus. I was pretty sure it was Inigo, the first time Anomie used Latin I realized that should be Inigo.

    For a moment, I believed Katya was gonna die as well and Robin would somehow end up adopting Flavia. That family was awful, turns out Katya was nothing compared to her husband and son, but she wasn’t the greatest mother either.

    I was seriously afraid that Strike might die as a result of the stabbing, having fessed up to loving Robin and leaving her to fulfill the final adventure on her own, pretty much like Dumbledore did Harry. That final adventure must, of course, be finding out who killed Leda.

    That said, in spite of there being close to none mention of Leda in TIBH, one paragraph strikes me as a major hint.

    “Lepine’s Disciple accused Edie of lying about how her mother died. He quoted a line from an interview Edie did, where she said she remembered her mother being “drugged up”. Lepine’s Disciple tweeted that Edie was trying to pretend her mother had been an addict.’ Lying about one’s mother’s cause of death being related to drugs? Hmm seen that somewhere!

    Finally, I have one major disappointment with the closure of this book. We haven’t had the tiniest clue as to what will happen to The Ink Black Heart franchise, Maverick’s movie, Drek’s Game (Zoe and Rachel are shutting it, I guess).

  13. Hello! Help me please. What does it mean the phrase “It’s norras if he’s me dad.” (character 67)? What is “norras”? Thanks.

  14. Nick Jeffery says

    Hello Olga!

    ‘Norras’ is dialect pronunciation of ‘not as’, so the phrase should be understood as – “it’s not as if he’s my dad”.

  15. Hello! Help me please! I don’t speak english. In charter 83 there is a book of Kosh: “gotten used to considering men as disposable chew toys. By playing the numbers game, women online might even get the occasional shot at an alpha.” What does it mean “playing the numbers game, women…”?

  16. Nick Jeffery says

    Hello Olga. In this case “playing the numbers game” is understood to mean repeating an action many times, so that even an unlikely event will eventually occur. Hope this helps!

  17. Louise Freeman says

    It is a colloquial expression that roughly means “gambling.” Imaging someone repeatedly rolling dice, playing a slot machine, spinning a roulette wheel or buying a lottery ticket, assuming they will eventually win, even with the odds against them.

  18. Hello! Thanks for your answers for me, who loves Strike, but don’t understand English) I am need in your help again: charter 89: ‘What are you, the council?’ Strike asked Angela Darwish. ‘Rentokil?’

    What is Council and rentokil here? Thank you!

  19. Nick Jeffery says

    No problem Olga! “the council” is a minor form of local government in the UK covering a local authority that could be a city borough or a county or part of a county. Rentokil is a private company that engages in pest control such as rats/mice/insects. Strike is using humour because the exact role of Angela Darwish hasn’t been made plain although is assumed to be counter-terrorism.
    Angela has asked Strike to attend the interview because of a cat. A matter more likely raised by the council or less likely (but more humorously) by Rentokil.

  20. Hello! Help me! What does it mean #NotAllBeards ? What history about this hashtag ? Thank you very much!

  21. Nick Jeffery says

    Hello Mary! I *think* that this hashtag refers to the number of men who attack women on Twitter with gender critical views. Very frequently they have beards, but because there a men who don’t do this, but still have beards (like Rowling’s agent and her husband) – #NotAllBeards.
    This also reflects the #NotAllMen hastag that was popular during the #MeToo movement.

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