Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Holiday greetings and a few Nativity hymns from a choir of nuns at the St Elizabeth the Grand Duchess Convent and students at the St Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary in Etna, California!

St Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary, Etna, California

The Value Of Interpretive Speculation or “Why We Know Dave Didn’t Kill Leda”

Twelve hours ago, I posted a longish essay in which I reviewed the cases against the five principal suspects in the “Who Killed Leda Strike?” murder mystery. My conclusion was that Dave Polworth did it.

Before I open my email and have to read your thoughts on just how bone-headed an idea this is, especially in relation to the theories that Lucy Fantoni or Whittaker’s elder relations did the job, I want to clarify one thing: I really don’t believe Dave Polworth did it.

In fact, I’m pretty sure he didn’t do it. Frankly, I’d almost be disappointed for my prediction to be proven right in the end.

Why, then, did I go to the trouble of surveying the evidence for and against Leda, Jonny, Jeff, Ted, and Dave as potential killers? To understand that, we have to be clear about the point  and value of interpretive speculation that Rowling’s serial works invite. Join me after the jump for that discussion. [Read more…]

Who Killed Leda Strike, Suicide Victim? Leda, Rokeby, Whittaker, Ted, or Dave?

In yesterday’s post, with the help of Nick Jeffery, I tried to calculate the amount of money as of 2014 that Jonny Rokeby, rock star, owed his illegitimate son, Cormoran Strike, in child-support payments that have been accumulating compound interest in a bank or maturing as blue-chip stocks since 1985. We came to a dollar figure well over $500,000.

Remember, Strike is living in a two room flat over the Agency office with a one ring hot-plate and college dorm room refrigerator. Half a million dollars is a life-style changing amount of money to our working boy.

We reviewed, however, the history of what Rokeby once called his son’s “nice little nest egg” and why Strike’s only relationship with it was to take out a loan on it, paid back with interest, to start the C. B. Strike Detective Agency. In brief, it is the tangible, exteriorized representative of Strike’s Oedipal outage, the desire to kill his biological father in devotion to his late mother. For reasons Rokeby certainly doesn’t grasp, Strike thinks of it as blood money and taboo.

See ‘Rokeby Owes Strike How Much? for the calculations and the explanation of all that.

Which brings us to the natural question: So What? Believe it or not, I think the “nest egg” money is a nice segue to discussion of that haunting topic, ‘Who Killed Leda Strike and Why?‘ I think there are five principal suspects: Leda herself, Jonny Rokeby, Jeff Whittaker, Ted Nancarrow, and Dave Polworth. Let’s walk through the reasons each could have had to kill Leda Strike and whether knowing the “nest egg” money existed may have influenced his or her decision to do her in. [Read more…]

Rokeby Owes Strike How Much Money?

Believe it or not, this longish post about the child-support money Jonny Rokeby owes Cormoran Strike leads to an attempt (tomorrow!) to figure out whether Leda Strike’s death was a suicide or murder and which of the five principal suspects — Leda herself, Rokeby, Whittaker, Ted Nancarrow, or Dave Polworth — killed her. I think the significant amount of money in question justifies that speculative leap. I look forward to reading what you think about the money owed in the comment boxes below!

Is it possible to calculate the “little nest egg” of money that Strike’s child support money has become between the Spring of 1993, when 18 year old Strike first makes a claim on it, and November, 2014, when he turns 40?

I guess that inquiry assumes one already has a satisfactory answer to the question, “Why would we want to know how much money Rokeby has in the bank that belongs to Strike?

We’ll start there, which requires a review of the history of the child-support money as we learn about it in Troubled Blood.

The first we hear of it is in Strike’s tell-all conversation with Robin after bloodying her nose at The American Bar. He shares the story of his second meeting with Rokeby, Strike age 18, a brief exchange caused by Leda’s having been told that, while Rokeby will not be contributing to her son’s college fund, there is a “nest egg” at hand that will help pay for his education. He presumably goes to get it. Things don’t go as planned.

“Second time we met,” said Strike, “I made an appointment with his management. I was eighteen. Just got into Oxford. We hadn’t touched any of Rokeby’s money for years. They’d been back to court to put restrictions on what my mother could do with it, because she was a nightmare with cash, just threw it away. Anyway, unbeknownst to me, my aunt and uncle had informed Rokeby I’d got into Oxford. My mother got a letter saying he had no obligations to me now I’d turned eighteen, but reminding her I could use the money that had been accumulating in the bank account.

“I arranged to see him at his manager’s office. He was there with his long-time lawyer, Peter Gillespie. Got a smile off Rokeby this time. Well, I was off his hands financially now, but old enough to talk to the press. Oxford had clearly been a bit of a shock to him. He’d probably hoped, with a background like mine, I’d slide quietly out of sight forever.

“He congratulated me on getting into Oxford and said I had a nice little nest egg all built up now, because my mother hadn’t spent any of it for six, seven years.

“I told him,” said Strike, “to stick his fucking money up his arse and set fire to it. Then I walked out.” (723)

Strike does not explain why he explodes at hearing the money he is owed described as a “nice little nest egg,” as if it were a savings account Rokeby had been building up for his prodigal son. Anyone who has read Career of Evil and Strike’s memories of Leda Strike’s married life with Jeff Whittaker, however, a man who married her to get at her Rokeby and Fantoni money, knows why. Leda couldn’t ever convince the gold-digger guitarist and Satanist that the Rokeby-imposed restrictions meant she had no longer had any access to the rock-star’s fortune.

Rokeby was in essence admitting to Strike, bragging on it really, that he had caused Strike’s family, which to Strike means “Mum” and “Lucy,” to live hand to mouth, in squalor, and with Whittaker because Jonny and his lawyers didn’t think she was fiscally responsible. The young man already knew his “mother hadn’t spent it” because of the legal “restrictions” Rokeby had put on it — but to hear it called a “nice little nest egg”? As if the savings produced by his family’s suffering were a benefit to Strike for which Rokeby expected gratitude from his teenage son?

Cue Oedipal outrage.

Now fast forward to the timeline of Troubled Blood. [Read more…]

Strike Has “Two Dark Angels”? Really?

I get the haunting aspect of Leda Strike as a ‘Dark Angel’ in Cormoran’s existence. His birth story and the exotic upbringing he had courtesy of his late mother has largely shaped who he is. And the ‘angel’ bit works because she is dead. The big-story mystery, not much advanced in Troubled Blood except for the Rokeby Valentines Day telephone call, remains if her death was really a suicide. Mom haunts the story; he even mentions feeling her presence — “the wraith of Leda seemed to drift on his cigarette smoke around him” ( p 34).

But Charlotte? She doesn’t die in Troubled Blood and Strike demonstrates that he is done with her as the touchstone of his emotional life by story’s end. In what sense can she fairly be described as a “dark angel”? She’s not dead, the only mystery not yet resolved is the baby she claimed they conceived, and he’s immune to her influence.

Is the suggestion that Charlotte is not yet done with Cormoran or Robin? That she will have some kind of supernatural vengeance as the woman-spurned? I confess to finding that possibility both credible and exciting. You?