Rowling-Galbraith Commits to Ten Book Series, NOT Seven, for Cormoran Strike

Yesterday in the announcement of The Running Grave’s publication date at, readers were given two statements in hard print that the series will be not seven books long, not an indefinite number, but ten in length. First:

THE RUNNING GRAVE will be the seventh title in a planned series of ten, the first six of which have all been Sunday Times and international bestsellers. The Strike series has been praised as ‘the work of a master storyteller’ [Daily Telegraph], ‘unputdownable’ [Daily Express] and ‘a blistering piece of crime writing’ [Sunday Times]; with Strike and Robin dubbed ‘one of crime’s most engaging duos’ [Guardian].

Then, much later in the piece:

‘It’s been brilliant to see the enormous success of the Robert Galbraith books over the past ten years and an honour to publish them. With over 11 million copies sold in the English language to date, the story of Strike and Robin has captured readers’ imaginations and, like so many others, I can’t wait to see what happens to them over the course of the final four books in the series.’ David Shelley, Group Chief Executive, Hachette UK.

After that announcement went global, Rowling sounded much more tentative about the ten book endpoint in a tweet to a reader who asked if Strike’s series would end as Harry’s did at the seven book mark:

Three Quick Notes:

(1) End of Seven Book Series Discussion? Not really.

Since the Parallel Series Idea (PSI_was proposed here at the publication of The Silkworm, the evidence that Rowling has been playfully echoing her Harry Potter novels in the apposite number book in the Strike series has only snowballed. See the PSI Pillar Post for a collection of the HogwartsProfessor articles detailing these fun reflections between the series. The Half-Blood Prince/Ink Black Heart echoing was discussed as well at HogwartsProfessor, as recently as last week, and at both The Rowling Library and even MuggleNet. Louise Freeman has noted that PSI is no longer just a possibility but a “theory” due to all this evidence.

Rowling has mentioned the ten book end point previously, so writers here have tried to figure out how the seven book parallels could be stretched into ten, ‘Strike Extended Play,’ as well as why Rowling is doing this — just for grins and giggles, to suggest the right way to read the Hogwarts Saga,  or to give her serious readers an inside track to the next book’s contents? Or is it ‘None of the Above’?

The real sticking point for this Potter Pundit and Serious Striker is less the series-in-parallel idea that suggests strongly that The Running Grave will be a finale of some kind as Deathly Hallows was to Harry Potter’s adventures than it is the ring structure of the Strike-Ellacott psychomachian drama. The parallels between the first and fourth books are in place, to include Rowling-Galbraith marking the second half of the seven book series turn as ‘Part Two’ at the halfway point of Lethal White, and we have the requisite parallels between  books two and six as well as three and five, the so-called ‘turtle-back lines’ of a ring composition. All of this suggests strongly that Strike7 will present a solution to the over-arching mystery of the series thus far, namely, the seeming suicide of Leda Strike, Cormoran’s mother, just as Lula Landry’s and Jasper Chiswell’s staged suicides were solved in Strikes1 and 4 respectively. 

So… The author and publisher have committed to a ten book series. This does not necessarily mean that Running Grave will not be as full of Deathly Hallows echoes as the first six books were with their Harry Potter equivalent numbers. Nor does it mean that all the structural evidence must be wrong in its pointing to the possibility that the series will come to an end of sorts in its seventh installment, a conclusion of at least one of the questions raised in the first book, say, about Strike’s conception, his mother’s death, the death of his child with Charlotte Campbell (?), or the IED explosion that cost him a leg.

All the PSI evidence and Ring structures still say that Running Grave is a finale on some level for the series. The three extra books? How one thinks about them, I guess, depends on how seriously you take the evidence presented. If you think ‘Jo is Having a Joke with Her Serious Readers,’ you think this has all been a set-up and Running Grave will not end the series in any sense. If you think “No Way did Rowling Do All This as a Knights Move Lark,” you’ll be reading Running Grave with a lot more angst and anticipation than the average reader, which is to say, ‘someone oblivious to PSI and Rowling-Galbraith’s OCD chiastic series story scaffolding.’

(2) ‘Eleven Million Copies.’ That’s all?

Forgive me for noting the obvious, namely, that Rowling has certainly sold many times that number of Harry Potter books in print, eBook, and audiobook formats during the ten years since Cuckoo’s Calling was published. She’s averaging less than two million books per entry in her second series, a phenomenal success for any other other writer but nowhere near even her first day of sales marks for the last three Potter books.

No wonder the announcement of Running Graves‘ publication date and length earlier this week was almost completely ignored by the legacy media, which was still hyperventilating about the new Harry Potter teevee series and the casting circus about to begin for the ten year project. As popular as the Strike books are in themselves and relative to other acclaimed mystery series, they have nowhere near the following and inspire nothing like the passion and close study that the seven Wizarding World premiere novels continue to do.

(3) Why Ten Books? Why Not Twelve or ‘As Many as I’d Like to Write’?

Scott Wortley seems to be a careful thinker and writer, but this tweet leaves me scratching my head. Yes, a quick check on ‘Martin Beck‘ shows that this series ran for ten novels. But John Harvey wrote twelve Charles Resnick mysteries and I cannot find another writer among those Rowling has mentioned as favorites who had ten adventures. Adam Dagliesh, for instance, had fourteen adventures and none of the Top Ten Detective Series listed at this site are ten books in length; Sherlock Holmes, for instance, was in many short stories but only four novels. I’m struggling to think that ten is the “classic crime series number.”

I am eager to explore the idea, however, the possibility, that the extra three books are meaningful in some sense. I just cannot for the life of me imagine what it might be, beyond taking us up to the Covid Barrier with its London in Lockdown that Rowling said she didn’t want to cross. When she was revealed as ‘Robert Galbraith’ and began her denials pf a seven book series, she said that one of the charms of writing detective fiction for her was that the books could go on as long as she thought of new mysteries (this, of course, was when she was still denying that the books were a series in any sense). Why ten, then? Twelve is as magical a number as seven — and her readers would be glad if she continued until her repose; see the thread beneath her announcement of ‘ten and done’ for those testimonials.

Fortunately, there are alternative scenarios to “it’s the finale” and “its not the finale.” The three we have discussed here are Louise Freeman’s Pentagram Theory, Kathleen’s Extended Play or ‘How a Seven Book Series Can be Stretched Into Ten,’ and Robyn Gomillion’s Sonnet Theory. Enjoy reviewing those and please send in your own ideas!

Hat tip to The Rowling Library’s Patricio Tarantino for letting me know about the announcement!


  1. Maybe Strike and Robin getting together at end of 7th book is like the end of a prequel. I’m thinking about how she wanted it to be like the Thin Man movies, and the last three books could be mysteries they solve as a married couple. I hope this makes sense.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    I’m still hoping… well, wishing?… for five FB novels as a prequel-series to HP, for 12 in all!

    Taking up Jeff’s idea, could three (ahem) Tommy and Tuppence-like RG novels take up assorted un(re)solved pre-Cuckoo ‘strands’, tryng pre- and post- in one ‘ addendum’?

  3. D.L. Dodds, Jeff,

    Well, for what it’s worth, I was always under the impression that “Strike” was going to be Rowling’s long term work, something that she would keep returning to, or churning out over the rest of her career, like Agatha Christie, or A. Conan Doyle. I still have no objections whatsoever to her two detectives becoming the new Tommy and Tuppance of their era.

  4. Kelly Loomis says

    I am thinking along the lines of ChrisC. Maybe she had originally intended to follow her structure and parallel HP, but I think the more she got into the series, her characters and the various mysteries, the more desire she had to keep at it. It’s too bad she can’t just skip ahead beyond the covid years and give us more books beyond 10. A lot of stories/series do that.

    Alternatively…if she has other ideas percolating in that amazing brain of hers instead of continuing Strike and Robin, I am fully up for reading her brilliance in a whole new and different story line.

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Kelly Loomis,

    Given the futuristic flash-forward at the end of Deathly Hallows, JKR/RG could not only skip (the first few years of) the ‘corona age’, but leap further into the future than 2023! Or ‘do a(n) FB’ with some ancestral Strikes, Ellacotts, et al….

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