Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #1: Parallels with Career of Evil. Spoiler Warning!

Starting out on publication day with a test of the ring-structure hypothesis!  If the Cormoran Strike series follows the same pattern as Harry Potter, and the many parallels of Lethal White with Cuckoo’s Calling (see here, here, and here) suggests is does, there should be many points of linkage between Books Three and Five.  All serious Strikers who, like me, are devouring the book as soon as it gets into our hands should make note of them in the comments.  Headmaster John will compile a master list later!

Spoilers after the jump! [Read more…]

Troubled Blood Predictions: The SWAGs

What We Think May Happen and Why: Mild and Wild SWAGs

Rowling admitted that she has embedded clues to the upcoming series entries in the books already published and that she is writing books like this because that’s what writers she likes do (no, I cannot think of any who do anything on the order of puzzle writing in a book series akin to what Rowling does). Read that 16 February 2018 BBC.co.uk  Interview with J.K. Rowling here. The relevant passage is at the tail end:

You say that you’re often obsessed with your characters’ pasts. You must have gathered quite a lot of information about Strike by the time you got to Career Of Evil. Did you think about how much you should put in there?

Through the whole of the first three books I have seeded future plots. I already know where he’s going to go and I’ve already mentioned things I need to mention. I’ve mentioned people I need to have mentioned, because you will meet them in further books.

It’s a question of really knowing who they are and using that. I enjoy reading books of any kind, not just detective fiction. Where I feel the author really knows, I feel like I’m in safe hands. They know everything – I don’t need to worry, they’ve got it all worked out. I like that feeling when I read a book. That’s the kind of book I want to write.

Speculation on Troubled Blood, consequently, turns on a close reading of the previous Strike novels, 1-4, an understanding of the parallelism in Rowling works internally in the series and externally with Potter, and a sense of what constitutes a clue in the Rowling writing domain. I started the prediction making with respect to Phoenix parallels in an October 2018 post about the probable end of the Strike agency in Troubled Blood. (Be sure to read the comment thread on that post!)

We’ve come a long way since then. I’ve already posted my prediction sure-things, events and literary twists that have to happen because they have happened in every other Strike novel. Here are seven SWAGs for contrast, most ‘scientific’ or at least closely reasoned and a few at the end that explore the ‘wild’ side. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Spenserian Hopes for Troubled Blood with Sneak Preview Chapters

Amazon.com: Troubled Blood (A Cormoran Strike Novel (5)) (9781549157745): Galbraith, Robert, Glenister, Robert: BooksWe’ve only a few days to go before the arrival of the eagerly awaited fifth Cormoran Strike installment! My local independent booksellers have my copy safely in stock, ready to hand over to me on September 15, like the professionals they are (and like people who still miss the thrill of Harry Potter book release parties in the old days). In the meantime, we’re having a grand time with the tantalizing almost-10-chapter preview of Troubled Blood, which has confirmed many of our suspicions and also left us wondering what the other 63 chapters hold. From Joni Mitchell to Marilyn Manson, the range of musicians who appear to be inspiring this adventure is an impressive one, and the literary scope promises to be just as rich. If you have not kept up with Bea Groves’s beautiful insights on the Literature Game of the Strike series, catch up before Tuesday! As we’ve been hoping since the title drop, it looks like Edmund Spenser’s glorious magnum opus The Faerie Queene is a major pillar of the complex literary scaffolding we’ve come to expect from The Faerie Queene (Penguin Classics) by Edmund Spenser Paperback Book The Fast 9780140422078 | eBayRowling/Galbraith.  While we wait for Tuesday, you may or may not be in the mood to read the entire six books and a bit of The Faerie Queene’s planned twelve books that Spenser was able to complete before his untimely  death in 1611(C.S. Lewis reportedly said that he hoped he would discover, upon reaching heaven, that Spenser was there waiting with the remaining six books). Whether or not you are a Spenser fan, here are six and a bit hopeful possibilities for the way Spenser may be woven throughout Troubled Blood, based on what we have so far!

 

[Read more…]

Liminal Women: Mermaids and Swan Maidens in Galbraith’s Strike Novels

Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, returns to HogwartsProfessor today — her third post here in a week! — to offer thoughts in the run-up to publication of Troubled Blood on the Mermaids and Swan Maidens in the Cormoran Strike novels. Enjoy!

In Lethal White there is moment when Britain’s sea-faring history briefly surfaces. Robin enters the rose garden of St Nicholas Church, Deptford and notes that its gateposts are ‘topped with the strangest finials she had ever seen. A pair of gigantic, crumbling stone skulls sat on top of carved bones.’ Robin thinks to herself that they would look at home ‘garnishing the front of a pirate’s mansion in some fantasy film’ (48). But, there is a persistent local legend that the indebtedness is the other way around: not that these finials recall the Jolly Roger, but that the Jolly Roger recalls them. The church’s website notes:

The famous flag of piracy sent shivers down the spine of unfortunate mariners whenever they came across it. But where did the flag originate? Legend has it that the flag was based on the skulls which still stand on the gate posts of St Nicholas’ church.

For centuries an economic and maritime war existed over the domination of the trade routes between Europe and the Americas, Africa and the Indian sub-continent. This battle of supremacy was mostly contested by Britain, France, Spain and Holland. Much of the conflict was acted out by privateers – ships in private ownership and outside the Royal Navy – whose activities were not fully investigated by the national authorities.

The British privateers did not necessarily want to broadcast their nationality when approaching say, a Spanish galleon returning from the Caribbean, particularly if they intended to loot her. So they invented a new flag, one intended to strike fear into the hearts of their victims and also to disguise their true nationality.

These ships were pirates, and many of them would have set off from Deptford – so hence it is thought that they borrowed the skull and crossed bones image from their local church.

This is, sadly, probably just a local tale, based on the link between the widespread, and ancient, Christian use of skulls as memento mori and the Jolly Roger (Though I do wonder if these memento mori skulls might have been in Rowling’s mind when she put up the Twitter header of Harmen Steenwyck’s ‘Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life’ as her Twitter header in Dec 2016, noting (when asked about it): ‘It’s hard to find a header that sums up everything I’m working on at the moment, but this painting comes close! It’s by Harmen Steenwyck’ (Jan 5, 2017)

Rowling would have been writing Lethal White at the time, and perhaps the memento mori skull in Steenwyck’s painting alludes to those church gates in Deptford, and the eye-catching local legend that they inspired the Jolly Roger itself.)

For Troubled Blood Strike will (at least briefly) be relocating to the coast, and given Rowling’s deep interest in folk legends and tales, I expect some Cornish sea-faring legends to appear. The most commonly noted Cornish link throughout the series has been Strike’s drink of choice – Doom Bar – and if this location merits a mention once Strike is back in Cornwall (as it surely might) Rowling may allude to ‘The Doom-Bar’ by Alice E. Gillington. We know from the blurb that Robin will be ‘juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike’ in this novel – and I wonder if Gillington’s Victorian poem about a doomed romance may have caught Rowling’s eye. ‘The Doom-Bar’ relates the story of a woman who gives her lover a keepsake as he sails away across the Doom Bar sands. She remains faithfully waiting for him until one year, when the tide is unusually low, she walks out on the Doom Bar and finds her ring nestling inside a scallop shell. This find brings with it the realisation that her sweetheart was faithless, and he tossed her ring out to sea the very day she gave it to him. [Read more…]

Charlotte and Clodia: Clues for Troubled Blood? Beatrice Groves Thinks So

Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, returns to HogwartsProfessor today to offer thoughts in the run-up to publication of Troubled Blood on the importance of the poet Catullus and his love for Lesbia in understanding Strike’s relationship with Charlotte Campbell-Ross. Enjoy!

After my first post about Strike’s use of the Roman poet Catullus, Joanne Gray pointed out a major Catullan clue I had missed. This post is dedicated to her find!

Joanne Gray’s comment ran:

Another reason I thought the clue JKR was giving to readers with poem #85, was a clue about Cormoran and Charlotte is because she not only had already linked Catullus with Cormoran but she also slipped in a link to Charlotte and Catullus as well.

In The Silkworm, in chapter 42, Charlotte Campbell is linked to Catullus when her email name/address is given as Clodia2@live.com. The link is in the name Clodia which is the real life name of Clodia Pulchra, the person behind Catullus’ muse Lesbia, who Catullus is addressing in poem #85.

I think this means that Charlotte will definitely be reappearing in Lethal White.

Since there is so much foreshadowing in the first book about the fierce revenge that Charlotte always exacts on people who wrong her—it looks like she will be bringing some real fury in her return. (I confess I don’t have a clue what that will entail.) Since the real life Roman aristocratic, Clodia Pulchra, was suspected of poisoning her husband, it’s going to be interesting to see if Charlotte is still married or a widow in Lethal White.

This is a great spot, and Joanne certainly hit a bullseye in her guess that we’d be seeing more of Charlotte in Lethal White. On how right she was about Clodia and Charlotte, join me after the jump!

[Read more…]