Ink Black Heart: The Gaffes

My copy of Ink Black Heart arrived at 5 PM yesterday and I have not yet penetrated its 1,012 pages (!) sufficiently to comment beyond “there are five ‘parts’ with a prologue and coda ‘latch’ which promises another seven part ring.” I’ll be looking for the murderer in disguise hiding out in plain sight somewhere in Part 3.

As promised, I’m posting “placeholders” here for the next ten days or so for Serious Strikers to share their thoughts and discoveries as they read or listen to Ink Black Heart. Here is the preliminary list of those posts in the sequence they will go up. (I will post the first three today in order to facilitate discussion here and to prevent enthusiasts from posting great ‘finds’ on the wrong threads.)

    1. Gaffes
    2. Silkworm Parallels
    3. Half-Blood Prince Parallels
    4. The Alchemical Albedo
    5. Psychomachia: Jung or Shakespeare?
    6. The Epigraphs
    7. The Tell Tale Heart
    8. Ghosts!
    9. The Scent of Narciso: the Mythic Backdrop
    10. Rowling’s “Double-Voiced” Text: A Literary Vocation vs Biology and Culture
    11. Strike Characters on Twitter

 Please let me know if there are other topics you want to include on this list. I will be posting an ‘Ink Black Heart’ link at the top of the Pillar Post Post column on the HogwartsProfessor home page beneath which you’ll be able to find and easily access all these placeholders rather than have to search the site for them once they sink below the horizon.

Today, the gaffes. Please share the continuity errors, Parker-Porter name slips, Afghanistan-Iraq misplacements, etc., that you find on the comment thread below. Rowling-Galbraith some time ago pledged (sort of) that she was hard at work fixing the mistakes her crew of editors had found, but the first pages released last week had an unforced error with respect to when the confrontation with Oakden happened in the American Bar. That mistake suggests that there is a mother-lode of Flints out there for attentive readers to find and share here with others. Have at it!

I passed my viva voce examinations yesterday. Thank you to all those who have written with their best wishes and congratulations. I have six months to write my “substantial revisions” to the thesis, a task that will compete for my attention with reading Ink Black Heart and discussing it here with you all.


  1. In chapter 41 : during an in-game private chat the moderator fiendy1 tells Robin-as-Buffypaws that Anomie’s motto is “oderint dum metuant”.

    However, in Chapter 42 in a text exchange with Strike, Robin says:
    “Worm28’s just told me Anomie’s favourite motto is oderint dum metuant”
    She then goes on to say she had a chat with fiendy1 and asks Strike which football team are the W***** .

  2. Louise Freeman says

    Percy Lish caught the first one from the audio preview: calling the interval between Robin’s black eyes “a few weeks” when a few months would be more accurate.

    I also thought it was odd to refer to Ted as “recently widowed” and “recently bereaved.” Joan died over a year ago, and, while I’m sure he’s still grieving, I wouldn’t call that a recent event.

    Another I caught was a repeat of the one that was pointed out in Lethal White: the statement that Robin bought Strike’s collapsible walking stick. No, Robin suggested he buy it. But, he bought it himself in a pharmacy in The Silkworm, along with painkillers and water, when he was checking out suspect homes by taxi, having sent Robin off to check others on foot. When Charlotte and Strike were at the restaurant in LW, Charlotte asked if Robin had bought it, and Strike said, incorrectly, yes, she had. That error is repeated twice in IBH; the stick is twice described as “the collapsible stick that Robin had bought him.”

  3. Louise Freeman says

    Another— Strike seems to have regressed in his knowledge of social media. He had no trouble using Youtube to find videos on Deeby Macc and Evan Duffield in CC and telling Robin to look for the Michael Fancourt interview on Youtube in SW. So, why is he suddenly asking if it requires a subscription?
    I also find it hard to believe he is so clueless as to what Twitter is. Maybe, like with blogs, he doesn’t get why people want to interact that way, but I don’t think he needs to have the concept explained to him. It’s been around since 2006. Strike has searched Facebook any number of times, and seems to know what Tinder is, which was only three years old in 2015. Why be so ignorant about Twitter?

  4. Hepburn’s Dress says

    I’m not sure if this counts as a gaffe – more of a question – but I thought this post was the best place for it.

    Is Vanessa in the book at all? I can’t recall a single mention of her.

    I thought Robin and Vanessa had become close friends but Robin only seems to meet Isla in this book. Have I missed something, or forgotten a detail about Vanessa from Troubled Blood?

  5. Not sure if this is a gaffe and I haven’t finished the book yet, so maybe it’s revealed later- but in the initial chapters, Strike and Robin talk of figuring out who’s Anomie by talking to people and then checking if there’s been a tweet at that time.
    I’m not on twitter, but even I know that you can schedule tweets, so it doesn’t prove anything.

  6. Louise Freeman says

    Kazuo: Thanks, I was thinking of that myself. I also thought that more than one person might be playing Anomie, so establishing alibis that way was a bit shaky as well.

    Another minor bit: The text says they had recently solved “a cold case” when they actually solved two. Louise Tucker’s recovery was at least as newsworthy as Margot Bamborough’s. In reality, they solved three, but I guess they never could tell anyone about Kara Wolfson.

    We are also still dealing with this need to have a physical phone in hand to check phone records and recorded messages, as if all that were stored on the phone itself rather than in the company databases. Yes, if Edie had stored a document on it, you’d need the phone, but can’t other records be found without the phone itself. I’m sure any right of the phone company to keep the records private would be out the window once this became a terrorist variation. And if the records really are sealed, why would having the phone make a difference?
    Finally, I thought it was odd that there was no concern about the agency losing business after being bombed. Is that less off-putting to potential clients than the arrival of severed limbs? That bank balance must have really built up, since the bombing caused no financial worry and they could afford dropping paying clients to tail Jago Ross, for whom no one was paying. (Though it would amuse me if Pat sent Charlotte a bill!).

  7. Louise Freeman says

    For the record, I predict we will find relatively few gaffes in this text, compared to TB. There are almost no references to Strike and Robin’s pasts or families, so fewer details to mix up. What we do hear (Prudence is a Jungian therapist, and has a daughter; Michael Ellacott is a professor of sheep reproduction*) was new. Internally, the news articles, tweets and game chats are all dated and time-stamped, making things much easier to keep track.

    *Will his professional expertise come in handy in a future text, as Nick’s gastroenterology training may have helped in the analysis of Doberman poo? Hmmm…..

  8. @Louise- Yes! Regarding getting phone data from the phone companies.
    Also, if Anomie is so skilled at covering their tracks online, I expect they could also do some kind of auto login onto the game every now and then, drift around and make general comments. Watching people and looking at the game to check for alibis seems unproductive.
    Also, when Robin is asked if she’s in Manchester- I expect if the moderators were suspicious (of formerly inactive users who might be cops), they could check the IP address and they’d know she was in London.
    Not a gaffe, but these things keep cropping up while I’m reading.

  9. Louise Freeman says

    Question for Brits: Twice I heard a network’s ordering of another years’ worth of shows (Max’s TV show, and the IBH cartoon) referred to as a “second series.” In the US, we would call a second year of the same show a “second season.” A “second series” would be a different show spun off from the first, usually with some of the same characters, like Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine and Voyager were new series that emerged from Star Trek the Next Generation. Is the “second series” wording correct in the UK?

  10. Louise Freeman says

    One more possible error: maybe they just changed their mind when they saw the cocktail list, but originally, Strike was taking Robin to the Ritz for champagne. It makes sense that Strike got something different; he doesn’t like champagne. But Robin seems to have chosen some much more powerful cocktails as well. And too many of them.

    Aside: I am actually glad that the kiss was cut short. I want their initiation of romance to be a sober-minded decision, in every sense of the word. With them both drunk, and particularly with Robin so much more impaired than Strike, a sexual encounter would have been uncomfortable to read about.

  11. Evan Willis says

    Start of ch.51, my edition has the quotation attributed to “Augustus Webster” rather than to the correct “Augusta Webster”, who incidentally is also buried at Highgate cemetery.

  12. Louise, yes it is a British-ism to refer to another year’s worth of a program as the second “series” rather than “season”. In your example of a second related concept being the “second series”, I think that we would refer to it as a “spin-off” or possibly a “prequel” or “sequel”.

    “season” is becoming more frequently used in the UK (often used interchangeably with “series”) but I have never heard “series” used to refer to a “spin-off” as a new series in the same universe as the original show. I think we would use “prequel”/“sequel” more readily than “series” in that context.

  13. Louise Freeman says

    Apparently, there are parts in the book where Edie is called Rachel’s aunt? They are actually cousins. It is already corrected in the audiobook.

  14. Some things I have noticed:

    During Robin-as-Buffypaws’s first in-game private chat with Vilepechora, a stray “Worm28 has been banned” line appears. Assume a copy-paste error.

    There is a certain inconsistency with the automated language in the in-game chats. Sometimes a character “joins” or “has joined” the channel, sometimes they “enter” or “have entered” the channel. Sometimes “a private channel has been opened”, sometimes it “has opened”. Also sometimes the header at the top of the moderator channel says “Present: Anomie, Hartella etc.”, sometimes it just lists the names without the word “present”.

    There is also inconsistency with Twitter handles. Even accounting for the fact that some characters have pre- and post-IBH Twitter accounts, Josh Blay is sometimes @theJoshBlay and sometimes @realJoshBlay. Also Wally Cardew has at least three different handles.

    During Strike’s first visit to Robin’s new flat, he mentions earplugs because he snores. Robin reflects that she never blocks her ears at night because she wants to be alert to unexpected movements. But in TB she does lie in bed at night in her childhood bedroom listening to Joni Mitchell on her headphones.

    During their visit to Josh in the hospital, they react with surprise at Anomie’s messages to Josh, saying “he wants to be a character in the game???”. Of course, that should say “cartoon”, not “game”. Anomie is already a character in the game.

    Finally, this may just be a question rather than an actual error. Is it realistic that Morehouse, a very intelligent and sophisticated media user who is growing disaffected with Drek’s Game and wants to leave, would not attempt to private message Nicole on a different platform? So he doesn’t want to meet f2f or talk on the phone, but if he’s found Nicole out there, there are Twitter messages, Facebook messages, e-mail. Wouldn’t he try to talk to Nicole on one of those, and wouldn’t he ask her what’s going on when she does not respond to him outside of the game? I thought that was odd.

    I’m sure more things will come to me.

  15. I look forward to your finding more Flints and gaffes in the future, Elisa! The inconsistencies in the language on the moderator channels conversation went right by me; as you say, such differences are impossible in a ‘game’ that exists online and consists of specific computer codes that yield invariable outputs. Changes in number and voice in such places are impossible without imaging the programmer changing the language coding randomly. Great finds!

  16. At the risk of breaking Rule 14 and triggering Consequence 14, I will reveal that I live in C********. I was excited to see the city in the book and slightly disappointed it was only shown briefly. Currently trying to work out if there’s a conceivable route to Gonville & Caius college via Trinity Lane from a place accessible by car, because I suspect the mention of Strike and Robin walking down Trinity Lane is another mistake – should be Trinity Street. I look forward to seeing what Strikefans makes of this particular location.

  17. Hi Elisa – just to prove that this is not the fandom Galbraith excoriates we are happy to break Rule 14 here! I too am from Cambridge (although now in the other place) & Trinity Lane is named for my alma mater (I lived above it one year) so I was delighted to see it make an appearance. But am also pleased to report that there is no mistake! Robin realising that they’re going to have trouble approaching by car, parks on Queen’s road, and then they walk down from there – crossing over the Cam using Garret Hostel Bridge then right (briefly onto Trinity Lane), up Senate House passage and turn left at the top into Caius. Given Rowling’s careful description of this route (and the vagaries of using a satnav in Cambridge!) I suspect she scouted this out in person sometime.

  18. Louise, the aunt/cousin mix-up is a major one in my copy. I found it quite confusing and wondered if there was some sort of skeleton in the Ledwell family closet to explain why Rachel was calling her cousin her aunt… I’m guessing in an earlier draft Grant was Edie’s brother but I would have thought they’d pick up on the aunt-niece-cousin references once they changed the brother-uncle relationship.

    Elisa, I also picked up on the @theJoshBlay and @realJoshBlay handles. There is some scope for multiple handles on different platforms and at different times. I suppose it’s also possible that the @theJoshBlay one, which I think was the anomaly, was a case of a mistake being made by a Twitter user. Likewise the cartoon/game mix-up could be explained away as a social media mistype in the heat of chatter.

    Kazuo, you can schedule Tweets easily now, but it was somewhat harder to do in 2015 as you couldn’t do it directly via Twitter but only via other software.

    It definitely took them way too long to figure out that Anomie could have been more than one person logging on to Twitter and the game at different times, or more than one Twitter account or game user. But that may be a bit of dramatic license – it provided a plot device and presumably gave lots of readers the nagging feeling that they had thought of something the PIs were missing…

    I thought there were more typos than usual in this one. Several instances of a word being missed out or duplicated. There was once line that I couldn’t make any sense of.

  19. Louise Freeman says

    Very interesting, Ed. I would think someone with enough knowledge to develop and run a major game would have have known how to schedule tweets, but maybe Robin did not know that was possible. But, yes, assuming that no one could impersonate anyone else in a game is a bit harder to believe, especially given that Robin herself was impersonating Bethany while doing her investigation.

  20. Hello Beatrice neighbour! Lovely to break Rule 14 together. Im yet to reread that bit so I’ll follow carefully when I get there. Of *course* they park on the Backs… me, I’d have parked in Park Street car park and walked down. But yeah, I chuckled at Rowling’s mention of “one way streets and bus lanes”. She sounded like she drove here herself and found it frustrating. Which it is!

    It’s also a less than 15 min walk from G&C to Stephen Hawking House.

    Ed, I totally agree re typos. Loads of them. I was quite surprised.

  21. Elisa – delighted to stand up to Anomie with you!

    Re: typos: a fairly egregious mistake in mine is that it says that Edie is speaking when Rachel is, so ‘Edie’ says that ‘Edie’ is her aunt, which (given that Rachel also isn’t Edie’s niece) took a bit of untangling! I like your theory, Ed, that we’re getting echoes of an older family tree. Grant’s behaviour would have been worse in a brother, so – if you’re right – the change may have been to make him less unsympathetic.

  22. Louise Freeman says

    Possible gaffe, possible foreshadowing: Strike recalls going to get food for a witness only to have that witness bolt. I don’t think we have seen that exact situation in the series yet. Someone in my Twitter group pointed out that Rochelle Onifade did run out when Strike was getting her food, but only in the TV show, not the book. So, either Strike was thinking of something we haven’t seen yet, or Rowling herself was a victim of “movie contamination.”
    (How many of you think Hermione fixed Harry’s broken glasses?)
    Another potential: Robin selected the handle @inkblackfan:) for her fake twitter account. Even with the smiley added, what are the odds that out of a fandom of hundreds of thousands, this particular handle has not already been taken?

  23. The smiley at the end of the Twitter username is a gaffe itself. You can only include alphanumeric characters and the under_score.

  24. Louise Freeman says

    Thank you, Ed. I was wondering about that myself, since I’ve never seen a handle like that.

  25. Just spotted another one:
    “the two sons of Ian Peach, tech multimillionaire and once aspiring Mayor of London, had been led in handcuffs out of his Bishop’s Avenue house” (p. 1,514 in the Apple Ebook)
    Sounds like Oliver should have some trouble walking out of his home, considering that, as Murphy says only a few pages earlier, “That brain injury’s not healing any time soon”.

  26. I’ve discussed this in other threads, so apologies if it sounds familiar; but after discussing with my partner, I’ve come to believe it qualifies as a gaffe.

    JKR mentions revealing “a quite unexpected side” of Robin in IBH. Assuming she’s referring to the bar scene with Pez Pierce, I only wish she could have revealed that side of her more plausibly. Robin recoiled in fear from Strike’s near-pass in Chapter one and had been appreciative that he’d never made her feel “uncomfortable” when they were alone. In previous books, she studiously avoided the sexual overtures of Paul Satchwell, loathed the dick-picking Saul Morris and brushed off the casual interests of others. She is not a wide-eyed innocent, as JKR notes, but has both professional and personal standards that she refuses to compromise.

    Yet her reflexive protectiveness and professionalism evaporate as “Pierce” suddenly thrusts his tongue into her mouth. I would expect anyone with rape, PTSD and physical assault in their past to have at least recoiled when penetrated (not too strong a word, I think) so aggressively by a randy MURDER SUSPECT (!). Robin could easily have played Pez as she did Satchwell in their bar scene, but instead accepted—and returned—Pez’s public tonguing for over an hour while not giving a thought to what would happen to her or the agency if her wig—which he was energetically stroking—became displaced and she was outed. JKR rationalizes Robin’s acceptance as trying remain in character and doing whatever it takes in an emotionally detached way to get the job done—eventually admitting that it was not all unpleasurable. Robin as porn star, anyone?

    We’ve seen Robin’s risk-taking increase exponentially—risks that no responsible partner would ever accept, regardless of gender. It would be a shame if JKR chalks this up to character growth. Before making her a full partner, it would have been much more plausible for Strike to establish some red lines before Robin damages the agency or gets herself, Strike or someone else killed. The bar scene seems purely for shock value, which was a bit of a disappointing degradation of a beloved character and a “jump the shark” moment for the series. Honestly, it felt like an FU from Rowling to fans of these books.

  27. DonkeyBalloon says

    Albus, I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree. Robin’s reaction to Strike outside the Ritz was because of her emotional attachment to him; she was afraid he would regret it. It wasn’t a PTSD reaction.

    And, yes, Robin does feel uncomfortable with men when she cannot be in control, especially if they sneak up behind her. However, she takes her job very seriously, and part of the job is to behave in ways that Robin Ellacott would not in her personal life. She has proven that she is willing to take extreme risks to her safety, including running into the Upcott’s dark house with no backup. Compared to that, having a guy’s tongue in her mouth—in Jessica’s mouth—in the interest of the case, seems plausible. It was daytime and in public, and she drew the line at going back to his place.

  28. Good points, DB, and thanks; but we’ll have to agree to disagree on one or two of them. Robin’s reaction to Strike’s move was reflexive and seemingly without thought about her actual feelings toward him, at least the way JKR initially described her. For his part, Strike saw “alarm” and “disgust” in her face. She was aware that she communicated a “no,” and regretted it—but since neither of these two EVER, god forbid, talk about their feelings, their misgivings are able to proceed without resolution for thousands of pages. In less skilled hands, this endless tension would collapse under its own weight in a volume or two. Even JKR is struggling to sustain it through six books—a growing weakness in the series, IMHO.

    Respectfully, it wasn’t just “a guy’s” tongue in her mouth (and it was her mouth/her body so her choice), it was a murder suspect’s tongue. I don’t think that can be overemphasized. Police and PIs NEVER allow suspects into their heads, yet Robin did so physically (his tongue) and emotionally (acknowledging she enjoyed it). Robin’s and Strike’s credibility would have been trashed if that wig had come off and Pez had been able to ID her. If Pez actually had been Anomie, and it was learned Robin had been getting it on with him, her career would have been over. If I hadn’t been reading this on my iPad, it might have been a throw-the-book-across-the-room moment : ).

    Finally, I don’t see the police or most future clients viewing the Strike/Ellacott agency in the same light if word gets around that either partner might get intimate with a murder suspect—or a cheating husband/wife they’ve been hired to observe. It speaks of amateurism, impulsiveness and incredibly poor judgment. Robin seemed to grasp that physical intimacy and exploitation were wrong between Morris and Gemma but she drew a different set of boundaries for herself and Pez.

  29. Louise Freeman says

    One more possible gaffe: When Strike and Robin are traveling to Cambridge Strike says “Stephen Hawking was here. ” In 2015, Stephen Hawking was alive; I would have thought he would say Hawking “is here.”

  30. ***SPOILER***

    Not exactly a gaffe, but was anyone else convinced Gus was behind the killings because his hives were due to a latex allergy? I thought it was really strange that they turned out to be due to food allergies rather than attributing them to wearing of latex masks!

  31. Louise Freeman says

    Another timeline error. As our earlier calculations put the IED explosion sometime between May – September 2007, when Strike says his amputation was six years ago, then corrects himself to seven, he was still wrong. It was eight years ago.

  32. LudicrousMoniker says

    In chapter 75 there is a sentence which reads ‘Strike pushed himself off the sofa and limped to the kitchen where Robin stood with his back to her, stirring gravy.’ This is obviously just a minor mix up of words.

    One we found when putting together the timeline for StrikeFans. In Chapter 99, Strike tells Pat ‘Glazier’s coming end of the week’. This is on Monday 15th June. In Chapter 107, Saturday 20th June, Strike tells Robin about the new glass in the door and says ‘You’ve been walking past it for the last five bloody days!’.

  33. Louise Freeman says

    LM: I came to the conclusion that Robin’s visit to Strike in the hospital must have been on a weekday: either Friday the 19th or Monday the 22nd. Robin tells Strike that Nutley called “this morning,” that Pat answered and that Barclay took the phone out of her hand to tell him off. Barclay may have no trouble working weekends, but I assume Pat would be strictly M-F.

    Neither fixes the issue with the glazier, unless the date was the 22nd and “end of the week” turned out to be Wednesday to early Thursday. That would have the glass in place for 5 days (counting Thursday to Monday).

    Trouble is, neither date is consistent with 5 days passing, unless it is the 19th and you count both Monday and Friday. The attack was so late Monday night that most would consider that day to have already passed. .

    If it was Monday the 22nd, six days have passed.

    Somebody, please buy JKR/RG a calendar!

  34. LudicrousMoniker says

    Louise, you make a very good point about it having to be a weekday. The issue must lie with the sentence ‘Five days had elapsed since Anomie had been dragged, struggling, out of his parents’ house’. If we assume that ‘five’ to be an error, then we can make sense of the inconsistency with the glazier. It would also make Robin’s desperation over the fact that it is only her ‘second visit to her partner’s hospital bed’ make more sense. Lucy and Ted have ‘dominated visiting hours’ (and she assumes Madeline has too) which seems overkill a bit if he’s only been in there five days and Robin’s been twice. I think I’ll amend the timeline to Ch 107 taking place the following week.

  35. LudicrousMoniker says

    However, another thought comes to me – at the end of Ch 107 Robin tells Strike that she is going out with Ryan tonight because she has a ‘free weekend’. So on that basis it has to be a Friday (Pat having worked that day). We can square this with the glazier if we assume that Strike saying she’d been walking past it for the last five days means the last five working days.

  36. Percy Lish says

    As for the unrealistic Twitter handles containing non-alphabet or -number symbols, I suppose that is because JKR/publisher does not want to accidentally include some real twitter accounts

  37. On page 922 we have “Strike had decided to present himself at UCH accident and emergency”.

    Not two paragraphs later on page 923 we have “The Accident and Emergency department at St Mary’s was, as expected, extremely busy.”

    St Mary’s is a different hospital under the Imperial College Healthcare Trust, not University College. It’s further from Strike’s office too.

  38. In page 367, the book ‘ Breek het partijkartel! De noodzaak van referenda’ by Thierry Baudet is found sitting in the small bookcase in the toilet at North Grove. This book appeared in 2018, so can’t have been around in 2015. The book would-be in in character for a right-wing environment.

  39. Probably a bit late to the party here. I loved The Ink Black Heart but it really annoyed me that Strike asks Robin if she’s heard of the Latin poet Catullus (when she asks him how he learned Latin) and she says no… despite Catullus coming up regularly as a plot point in Lethal White (with Jasper Chiswell quoting it).

  40. Hi Ursula, just finished the book today on my Kindle. in my version, Strike doesn’t ask Robin if she’s heard of Catullus – ‘There was a copy of Catullus in there,’ said Strike. ‘You ever read any Catullus?’ ‘No,’ said Robin.

  41. Louise Freeman Davis says

    Another error spotted on my Pre-TRG re-read. When Strike asks Robin for his phone so he can show her the new window, he asks “Four of you in the office and nobody’s noticed?”

    It should have been five: Robin, Pat, Barclay, Midge and Dev.

  42. InkBlackHeartFan420 says

    Chapter 104 mentions Grant Ledwell children staying up late to see their father’s “famous visitor” – later on in this chapter Grant leaves the conversation with Strike and Robin to grab sunglasses because it was too bright outside?

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