Pentagram Predictions II: Silkworm-Lethal White Links.

The Pentagram model predicts five pairs of cross-connected  texts in the first five Cormoran Strike books. Previous posts have already documented thematic links between

  1. Career of Evil and Troubled Blood
  2. The Silkworm and Troubled Blood
  3. Cuckoo’s Calling and Lethal White
  4. Cuckoo’s Calling and Career of Evil

This leaves one more pair of books that would be expected to have parallels:  The Silkworm and Lethal White. Can we find thematic connections?  You bet!

Our heroes find the body: In both SW and LW, the detectives are initially hired by the family for a reason unrelated to murder. The victim is unexpectedly discovered by one of our detectives (Strike in SW, Robin in LW) in a second home that the victim owned. The bodies were left in position by the killer, and described as looking grotesque, using comparisons to food. Quine was described as looking like a joint of meat or a trussed turkey, Chiswell with a turnip-like head. Our heroes photograph the body before calling the authorities and review the photo spread later in the case. And, as John has previously pointed out, Strike had sex the night before he found his body, Robin refused sex the night before she found hers.

Overly complex, planned murder of a male blackmailer: These are the only two books where there is a single victim, and in both cases, the victim was a blackmailer; Quine was blackmailing Liz Tassel, Chiswell was seeking information to counter-blackmail the Winns. The murders were elaborately planned, to a level of absurdity, over a lengthy period.

Strike enlists illegal help from a woman: In SW, Strike asks Nina Lascelles to steal a copy of the Bombyx Mori manuscript for him, even though being caught could have gotten her into trouble. In LW, Strike asks Robin to bug Winn’s office.

New hires: Robin is upset and threatened by the hypothetical new ex-police or ex-Army hire Strike wants to make in SW. In LW, ex-police (Andy) and ex-army (Sam) contractors have been hired and Robin is happy with them.

Irritating and intrusive Sarah: Sarah Shadlock attends a family event in Masham (Mrs. Cunliffe’s funeral in SW, wedding in LW). Robin does not feel she can complain about Sarah at the funeral, given how close she came to missing it because she drove Strike to Devon. She also felt she had to let Matthew invite Sarah to the wedding because she had invited Strike. Sarah being Sarah, she is overly friendly to Matthew at the funeral, and to Strike at the wedding.

Popping hamstring: In both books, the hamstring of Strike’s stump gives out when he is over-exerting himself on a case, and he collapses on the street, unable to walk and has to get help from a woman (Robin in SW, Lorelei in LW). Strike’s leg hurting is common to all books, but only in SW and LW is it so swollen that he has to stop wearing the prosthesis and resort to crutches.

Dining in the gentlemen’s club: Strike takes Jerry Waldegrave to a former gentlemen’s club turned restaurant for lunch in SW, complete with a clock on the wall that supposedly stopped when they admitted the first woman. Chiswell takes Strike to lunch in an actual gentlemen’s club that still does not admit women in LW. Strike eats roast beef and potatoes in both places.

Road-trips, biscuits, breakdowns and burgers. In SW, our heroes take their first road trip to interview Chard. Strike doesn’t eat breakfast, but is surprised and delighted that Robin brings biscuits and eats them all.  After being treated rudely by Chard, Robin breaks down in the Burger King. Strike responds rather harshly (“don’t blame me if you don’t like what you’re about to hear!”), saying that it would be hard for her to meet the demands of being a partner, given Matthew’s attitude. He tells her not to cry and to “cheer the f*ck up and eat your burger.” Their partnership is established.

On the road trip to visit the Chiswell family, Strike eats breakfast, but then is surprised and disappointed that Robin didn’t bring biscuits. On the road trip to interview Tegan, after being treated rudely by Winn, Robin breaks down on the verge. Strike responds calmly and tenderly, comforting her as she cries on the road and later saying, “bear in mind that we want exactly the same thing while I’m saying the next bit.” He tells her that nothing in her past prevents her from doing the job, as long as she addresses the mental health issues. They enjoy venison burgers at the racetrack. Their friendship, which had been broken after Robin’s marriage, is re-established.

Call waiting: In both books, Strike is talking on his cell to a male colleague with a heavy regional accent* (Polworth in SW, Barclay in LW) when his phone beeps to tell him he has another call. He ignores it. When he finally checks, the caller turns out to be a woman in an emergency situation that needs his immediate attention (Leonora telling him of her arrest, Lucy telling him of Jack’s hospitalization).

* and nationalist tendencies, though we don’t know that until later.

Strike uses woman to meet his own emotional needs: In SW, Strike sleeps with Nina not just to help with the case, but as a source for free meals and physical comfort when he was distressed over Charlotte marrying Jago. In LW, he sleeps with Coco when he was distressed over Robin marrying Matthew.  Later, he uses Lorelei as, in her words, a “restaurant and brothel.” Both Nina and Lorelei call him out on his exploitive behavior at the end of the relationship.

Say no to the dress: Robin reflects at the start of SW that she had never dared wear the Green Dress, given Matthew’s response to it. At the housewarming in LW, she considers wearing it, but dons a grey one instead, to please the Flobberworm. When she finally does wear it to the Paralympic Ball, Matthew rips it when trying to coerce her into sex.

A kiss is just a kiss: Strike kisses Robin’s hand for the first time in SW; he kisses her mouth (albeit accidentally) for the first time in LW.

Business advice from Greg:  Strike is annoyed by his brother-in-law trying to advise him on his business in both books.

Danger in a loaner vehicle:  In both books, Robin is put into a life-threatening situation inside a borrowed vehicle: Nick’s dad’s cab in SW, Raff’s girlfriend’s boat in LW. Strike rushes to rescue her, but is unable to prevent her face from being injured.

Herbert’s boarding house:  Strike is staying with Nick and Ilsa for the first time at the end of SW. Robin is staying with Nick and Ilsa for the first time at the end of LW.

These lists are getting long!  Please suggest more!



  1. Not really a link, but a comment I have wanted to make ever since my first reading of Silkworm. Isn’t that final “taxi ride” with Robin in effect kidnapping someone rather pushing things? I know it was the “bad” person being kidnapped, but Robin didn’t have any legal authority to take her somewhere she didn’t want to go. If it had been a “bad” person taking Robin in a cab to somewhere SHE didn’t want to go, Robin would have been justified in using force to stop the cab. I think the author couldn’t figure out how to end things.

  2. Louise Freeman says

    Very good point, Jerri. I think Strike would probably counter that it was a citizen’s arrest, as he said with Pippa.

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