Pentagram Predictions I: Cuckoo-Career of Evil Links

Under the Pentagram model, the stars that Talbot scrawled frantically on his notes are a clue not just for Strike and Robin but for the readers, providing a map to the structure of the series. This model predicts that particular pairs of books will have parallel themes. One such pair is The Cuckoo’s Calling and Career of Evil. I am going to list some of the connections I see and ask our readers to list more in the comments.

In vino veritas in the Tottenham. This is perhaps the clearest parallel in the series, as obvious as “are you a witch/wizard or what?” in Harry Potter.  In CC, Strike learns Charlotte is engaged to Jago Ross, a scant two weeks after their break-up and her alleged miscarriage. He concludes, probably correctly, that Charlotte had cheated on him with Ross. He goes to the Tottenham and gets plastered on his favorite drink, Doom Bar. To his surprise, Robin, who was worried about him, tracks him down and, after a lot of drunken secret-spilling, gets him safely home.  In CoE, Robin learns that Matthew cheated on her with Sarah Shadlock. She goes to the Tottenham and gets plastered on her favorite drink, red wine. To her surprise, Strike, who was worried about her, tracks her down, and, after a lot of drunken secret-spilling, gets her safely to a hotel.

This time, it’s personal. In both books, the killer has a personal history with Strike. John Bristow knew Strike as a childhood friend of his adopted brother and first victim; Donald Laing knew Strike from the army.

Near-bankruptcy. Strike starts CC broke and with a single client, not knowing how he will keep the business afloat. He is reduced to the same state in CoE, eventually hocking his watch for cash. While financial challenges are never far from the heroes’ minds, in SW they are going well enough that Strike talks of taking on other employees, and by LW and after, they have a full time staff.

Time of year. Both Robin and John Bristow arrive at Strike’s office on March 29th, 2010, which starts the case for our heroes. CoE starts almost exactly one year later, on April 4, 2011.

Jack’s birthday party. In CC, Strike reluctantly attends his nephew Jack’s birthday party; a year later, in CoE, he avoids taking Lucy’s calls because he knows she will pester him about coming to the party again.

Blondes are more fun. Strike’s sexual partners in CC and CoE are both tall, beautiful, blue-eyed blondes in the entertainment industry: supermodel Ciara Porter and BBC presenter Elin Toft.

Good cop, bad cop. Eric Wardle and and Roy Carver are the friendly and unfriendly Met cops respectively, in both books. These are the only two books where Carver appears. Wardle also turns up at the end of Lethal White, but is not actively consulted during the case and appears relatively little; his name is mentioned only 40 times in LW, compared to 100-200 times in CC and CoE, both much shorter books than LW.

Brotherly love (not!): Though both killers have more than one female victim, the killing that initially gets Strike’s attention is a siblicide. Lula Landry was killed by her adoptive brother; Kelsey Platt by her brother-in-law, whom she told others (e.g. Jason) was her brother.

Cuts like a knife: Strike winds up in hand-to-hand combat with the killer at the end of both cases. The killer is armed with a bladed weapon and injures Strike on the arm or hand. Strike, for his part, breaks the killer’s jaw.

Reunited, and it feels so good: As the end of the book approaches, it appears Robin and Strike’s professional and personal relationship is over, in CC because she is leaving for an HR job, in CoE because she’s been fired. In both books, there is a last minute changing of minds. In CC, Robin decides she wants to stay, for the meager salary that Strike can pay; in CoE, after failing to reach Robin by phone, Strike rushes off to her wedding to ask her to return.

I’ll stop there.  I’m sure people will think of others.


  1. I am currently re-listening to CoE and I found another parallel: in both books, Cormoran compares Leda with rich women who appear in the books. In CC, he compares her to Lula and how their deaths were looked at like inevitable because of their lifestyles. Im CoE, he compares her to Ellin, saying that they were both beautiful, intelligent women but one lived in oppulence and the other in squallor.

    I’ll keep my ears perked for more parallels.

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