Running Grave: The Gaffes

It is a feature of HogwartsProfessor.com to post seven open threads on the day a Rowling-Galbraith novel is published, thereby creating spaces for readers to comment as they make their way through the new book about a variety of topics close to our hearts.

The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

Of these, I place ‘The Gaffes’ in the lead position because it has generated by far the most responses in the past. (Check out the Gaffes posts for Lethal White, Troubled Blood , and Ink Black Heart if you doubt me on that score.) In the two previews we were given — Rowling, Inc’s greatest gaffe jamboree to date, both having to be pulled promptly after publication — the chapters given included several mistakes that readers have noted.

So, have it in the comment boxes below! This shouldn’t need to be said, but of course those concerned about spoilers should not read this thread.

Comments

  1. About one quarter through—and maybe it will be explained later—but is anyone surprised that the UHC doesn’t run background checks on new recruits? Drivers licenses, passports, social media accounts would all seem to be ripe for checking out by any organization as lawyered-up as this one. So far, UHC seems as oblivious to the risk of infiltrators as Strike is to the risk of exposing Robin to exploitation and rape.

  2. (At least in the eBook) the hexagrams in the Part 2 and onward are the wrong one (the same as that of Part 1).

  3. Charlotte’s mother’s name changes between book 2 (chap 24) and book 7 (chap 38, 64, 67): Tula Clermont becomes Tara Clairmont.

    The same goes for one of these half-brothers, once called Sacha in book 4 (chap 62), then Simon Legard in book 5 (chap 55) and again Sacha Legard in book 7 (chap 64, 67).

    Another gaffe is the age difference between Charlotte and her sister Amelia:
    – chapt 59: “Charlotte Campbell, 41” “Amelia Crichton, 42” so a year’s difference,
    – chapt 67: “Amelia, who was two years older than [Charlotte]”, so now 2 years older?

  4. Lorna Calhoun says

    In the first book, Strike said he was 8 when he was in the commune. Now he says he was 12.

  5. I wonder if Jo works with book bibles. Many authors who write long series have issues like this, and I understand that they themselves, or their PA’s create book bibles with eg basic information on characters ages, family, locations etc.

  6. On page 99, Lucy’s husband Greg is having banana bread. Two pages later, Greg is described as having “banana cake.” But when Jack comes in from playing, Lucy tells him he can have “banana bread” when he has washed his hands. Did she bake two things? Do Brits also call bread “cake” when it is sweet? Or did Rowling forget so quickly?

    Because this potential gaffe concerns baking, I am thinking of my observation as my Louise Freeman moment.

  7. I’m not sure if this counts as a gaffe, but I wonder why Robin can’t gauge the passage of time from her nightly journal rather than having to collect pebbles. Even if she wasn’t allowed to date each entry, she could count up how many entries she had made. Perhaps the church elders tear out the journal pages as they are written to stop the inhabitants being able to orient themselves date-wise. But it’s never said explicitly, as far as I can tell.

  8. On page 337, ‘Lin Pirbright’ is the name used. But surely Lin has nothing to do with Pirbright?

  9. I’m pretty sure I remember Charlotte’s mother being named as “Tula Clermont” in a previous book rather than “Tara Clairmont”. After Ciara Porter/Parker, what is it with JKR and minor character names? They might be minor but they matter!

  10. On page 743, Will is said to have searched internet in an ‘internet café’, but in Chap. 103 he said that he used a library.

  11. It occurred to me that the dates in Part VIII is a bit messed up?

    [Spoilers below]

    Chapter 101–103 is 11 Aug 2016, because it is ‘Thursday’ (page 727).

    Then Chapter 104–107 should be the next day, i.e. 12 Aug 2016, Friday, because Strike had ‘rung their client the night before with the news’.

    So, Chapter 108 and so on should be on Saturday, which is contradictory to the text stating that it is 12 Aug instead.

    In summary, I suppose that the ‘Thursday’ on Page 727 should be ‘Wednesday’ instead.

  12. And, at the beginning of Chap 116, ‘next two days’ seems more reasonable to me than ‘next three days’.

  13. On page 897, Strike asked about chocolate biscuit. But the Polaroids are found in a Barnum’s Animal tin, right?

  14. I enjoyed this infinitely more than IBH. Yet there were maddening implausibilities that, for me, rise to the level of major gaffes.

    First, a nit. In chapter 68, “[Robin] knew that even this limited agenda would be tricky. Whether deliberately or not (and Robin suspected the former), ever since they’d returned TO Norwich she and Emily had been given tasks that kept them as far apart as possible.” (emphasis mine) They had returned FROM Norwich.

    Chapter 43: Strike tells Dev Shaw, “We’ll get you fake ID and documentation” to help with a garden-variety investigation of the Franks. Yet, there was no thought given to creating documentation for Robin’s life-or-death portrayal of “Rowena”?

    Chapter 101: Strike gloats about his rival Mitch Patterson’s downfall: “Turns out, if you’re going to illegally bug an office, best not to do it to a leading barrister.” Apparently the same isn’t true for MPs, as when Strike has Robin bug one in Lethal White.

    Also in chapter 101: Strike has the office locks changed after a security camera catches an armed intruder trying to break in. Robin has recently escaped from the cult; yet Strike gives no thought to having her locks changed.

    An overarching thought: putting Robin in a sex cult, the determined aim of which is inseminating women—with starvation, mind-control, rape, sexual torture, the Stockholm Syndrome and Robin’s own acknowledged recklessness all in play—created amazing tension. However, the notion that she could spend 16 weeks among sexual predators without spirit bonding doesn’t seem possible. Unprotected sex at the commune isn’t a threat, it’s an inevitability. (For more realistic novelistic treatments of undercover work by women operatives in cults or gangs, consult Tana French, particularly “The Likeness.”)

    Lastly, not a gaffe, but are we sure Strike’s completely free of his past dalliances? So far, we have only Bijou’s word that he is not the reason for her pregnancy, no?

  15. One more: Why not a bigger plastic rock for Robin? It could include such 21st century marvels as a phone, allowing her to make desperately needed human contact with her handlers. FaceTime would permit Strike and company to objectively evaluate Robin’s condition. If the signal is bad, then why not a miniature voice recorder? Both would eliminate the need for a penlight or the time it takes to write notes. Also, why not give her some actual nutrition and vitamins that she could hide somewhere on the compound—along with (wait for it) birth control pills!?

  16. @Albus, I agree it’s unrealistic that there would be no formal background checks of new recruits. My best counterargument might be this:

    The UHC knows it attracts people who have complicated relationships with their families and outside lives, and therefore might have many acceptable reasons for joining under false names (as “Cherie Gittens” did). Certainly some of their ranks come from addicted and homeless populations that are hard to background-check. If they insist on recruits that can pass a background check, they lose much of this manpower.

    As for the “upscale” recruits… well, do they really want to turn away some disaffected rich girl who’s hiding from her family under a false name but happy to throw money at the church?

    But ultimately… this falls a little flat for me, and I agree with you. They might not be too strict about investigating the homeless types… who generally will just be foot-soldiers and won’t learn any high-level UHC secrets anyway. But I DO think they’d check on someone like “Rowena,” who supposedly came from a prominent, successful family (and hasn’t even claimed in her backstory to be estranged from them). I really can’t adequately explain it away.

  17. @Iris, I’d be really surprised if Rowling didn’t have a “book bible” for the Strike series—since she had what sounds like an elaborate one for Harry Potter. For example, I remember she had a complete roster of Hogwarts students in Harry’s year, even though some of them never made it into the story. Don’t think I’ve heard her talk about it directly regarding the Strike series, but it’s hard to understand why a writer would start out using this method religiously… and then later decide it isn’t worth the bother.

  18. Emma: I had exactly the same thought about the journal.

    Two things strike me as out of character and problematic in the overall plot. The first, as others have pointed out, is Strike sending a rape survivor into a sex cult. Yes, JKR frames it as Robin’s choice, that she is ready to harangue Strike till he lets her do it, but he gives in way too easily. And I must say that, though I am not a person who is easily triggered, this aspect of it bothered me so much that I was slow to read the first third or more of the book and kept putting it aside because I didn’t want to see Robin in that situation. Eventually, of course, I was sucked in and devoured the book, but it took much longer than usual for me with a Rowling story, and I can directly attribute it to the Ick Factor of Robin in a sex cult.

    The second problem I had was with how long it takes Strike, and later Robin, to figure out that the inheritance from Alex Graves is a red herring. It’s a hole in logic that you could drive a lorry through. If Daiyu is supposedly the Graves heir, not only can Mazu and Jonathan NOT afford to kill her, but they can’t afford to claim that she’s Jonathan’s child. As soon as they do either of those things, they lose the inheritance. I suppose that Mazu could try to claim the inheritance for her dead daughter, but not if she has no DNA test to prove that Daiyu is Alex’s child, and especially not if she’s now saying that Daiyu is Jonathan’s child. The same arguments hold true if she’s just spirited away: if they don’t have the girl, they don’t have a DNA test, and they’re claiming Daiyu is/was Jonathan’s child, the inheritance is irrelevant.

    So my problem is that it should have taken people as sharp as Strike and Robin about two minutes to figure that out. The fact that they keep coming back to it and don’t just toss it in the bin is deeply annoying to me.

  19. Solid points, SK, especially concerning the addicted and homeless. It’s hard to get a motel room without an official ID and I would think a paranoid cult, with so much to hide and terrified of infiltrators, would be even more motivated to know who they’re admitting. I also agree they’d want to tread lightly with the affluent. But some sort of intelligence gathering—even if it’s just scouring the internet and social media as Robin does—might lessen the chance of opening the gates to a Trojan Horse.

  20. @Albus: Could Robin have resisted spirit-bonding for that long? Maybe not… but here’s another devil’s-advocate-style counterargument.

    In the end we learn there are about 100 people living at the farm (fewer than I think I pictured). Plenty are women or children. Let’s say there are 35 men. At least one is gay. At least one isn’t allowed (Jiang). Some might still have Bubble World notions of either “not my type” or “out of my league.” Some just haven’t gotten around to it. (After all, there are lots more women to spirit-bond with… virtually all of them more eager than Robin.) And a lot just wouldn’t have the status to compel Robin into sex. Sure, you’re technically not supposed to turn anyone down… but if it’s just some “nobody,” does anyone care? If she just makes some excuse, she probably gets away with it. And considering that Taio has his eye on her, he’s probably not exactly focused on making sure other men get to have her too (whatever the church dogma might say about free love).

    Really, Taio and Jonathan are the only men we’re told about who are true threats in this department… and they too have lots of other women to keep them occupied. If they get to spirit-bond with some willing woman every day, how often will either of them really think “It MUST be Rowena today…?”

    So, I agree it would be challenging to avoid unwanted sex for that long… but maybe not as implausible as it initially seems.

  21. I completely agree with PC that the Graves inheritance thing is ridiculous. Graves and Mazu weren’t married. Upon Daiyu’s death, her inheritance reverts to his family, not Mazu. If Mazu had any designs on Graves’s wealth the only thing to be done was to marry him.

  22. Also, what’s up with the now years overdue redevelopment of the building with Strike’s office in it? It’s been three years (and three books).

  23. SK, you summarize the counterarguments very well and they’re certainly the rationale that JKR would like readers to accept. We could add that Robin was protected from other males by the perception that she had become Jonathan Wace’s spirit wife. My own view remains that 16 weeks is an exorbitant amount of time for any woman to resist completing multiple sprit-bonds in a cult that functions as a baby mill . . . which is why Robin made the false, highly suspicious attempt with Will.

    Women in any cult are there for sex and service. Robin’s “medical intake” with Dr Zhou demonstrated the extreme expectations that this cult places on women recruits and her procrastination in getting with the program should have been a red flag to the Waces. For an organization that has never successfully been prosecuted and is structured so cunningly to survive investigation and outside scrutiny, the cult leadership comes off as obligingly clueless when it serves the narrative. Only Marion seems to have figured Robin out, before spitting in her face.

    When Jonathan gropes Robin—part of PC’s “ick factor,” for me—and is conveniently interrupted before he can rape her, it felt a little like the damsel tied to the railroad tracks being rescued at the last second. Other elements of the ick factor included gratuitous references to Ryan ejaculating and Strike doing “stand-up” with Bijou. Given Robin’s willingness to go to extreme lengths to get the job done, and—as with Pez Pierce in IBH—to occasionally find pleasure in her work, I was actually praying that we weren’t heading toward “50 Shades of Robin.”

  24. I have quite a lot of sympathy with JKR on the sex at Chapman farm thing. She’s decided to write a cult book and that Robin will go undercover in it. A cult like the UHC can’t possibly be conceived without an institutionalised rape element. Even if Papa J was some kind of closeted maniac who insisted on abstinence as one of the Holy Truths or whatever, we know from real world examples that that is never practically credible. Hence, there will be a very high risk of Robin being raped and it needs to be faced head on.

    Now, from a narrative perspective, JKR can’t allow Robin to be actually raped. It would destroy the character. Hence, Robin needs to somehow get away with it. I thought the whole Spirit Wife thing – where Robin becomes untouchable if she’s had sex with Papa J – could have been exploited perhaps more effectively. Let’s say Robin gets set up with loads of money from Colin Edensor and a very credible back story as a very rich woman, and makes enough donations to become important to keep on board. Let’s say Papa J makes a rape attempt, and Robin fights him off. He doesn’t want word to get out that she’s resisting him, so he sets Mazu and Becca up to punish her subtly at first, and then more savagely, until she yields. In the meantime, the money keeps flowing in and the reputation as a Spirit Wife is maintained so there is no need for more rape attempts from Taio or other church members. Dunno, maybe this idea isn’t that different from what JKR actually did, but I would have found it more credible than chance alone, or the frankly rather preposterous idea that Taio would agree to just “wait until she comes to him”.

  25. Albums,

    Regarding the birth control pills, I suppose that the kind that one need take daily is out of question, because Robin is almost impossible to get to the rock daily to take them. But indeed they should have hidden some emergency contraception pills in the rock.

    For the ‘chocolate biscuit’ issue I mentioned earlier, I have just found that Barnum’s Animal indeed sells chocolate-coated animal crackers, so that is not a gaffe necessarily.

  26. Also, something about thing happened at the day Daiyu drowned is not very logical to me.

    [MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW]

    Indeed, the whole plot will definitely make the two people and animals involving literally ‘soaked in blood’. It beggars belief that they two simply hide/dispose their tracksuit in the wood. (Or, they also burnt the tracksuit along with the rope?)

    Also, if they indeed made the straw-Daiyu clad in white dress, then the dress left on the beach should have some remnant of straw in the INSIDE of it, which would be very fishy.

  27. Albums,

    Regarding your suggestion that a phone or an audio recorder could be put in the rock:

    1. I suppose that for weekly communication, the risk of writing is the light, while the risk of recording/phone call is the sound. If Robin managed to hide properly, the light of a pencil torch is harder to discover than the sound of speaking to a recorder (or listening to it).

    1.1 Also, the battery life of a phone is a large problem. Though I indeed agree that they should have put a phone in the rock for emergency.

    2. My personal experience with audio recording is that, the information conveyed by audio is usually less coherent and less efficient. But perhaps it is OK and feasible for Robin to receive information by written letters while sending information by audio recording.

  28. Elisa, you nailed much of what bothers me about the malleable logic surrounding Robin at UHC. A little more inventiveness by JKR—or editors willing to subject her scripts to a laugh test—and Robin’s avoidance of spirit bonding might have been plausible. As it is, I worry that the pace of writing these books, along with JKR’s many other projects, are causing unforced errors and too many “now, wait a minute” moments.

    PercyL, good catch. What happened to all that blood is another detail that needed more explanation.

    As to a phone, one could have been charged by a subcontractor every Wednesday evening, fresh and ready for Robin on Thursday. A good smart phone will easily pick up a whisper, so no added risk. Robin could also receive a week’s worth of birth control pills each Thursday along with a small strip of tape, affix them to the underside of her bed frame and even use them as a daily calendar instead of pebbles. (None of this should be a problem for anyone clever enough to sneak out of her dorm every Thursday without discovery.) But this would require Strike confronting the reality that he has acquiesced to the women he loves risking rape and unwanted pregnancy on a daily basis.

  29. Albus,

    [SPOILERS BELOW]

    I’ve discussed the issue of ‘splattered blood’ with others, and they say that the victim was disembodied after being choked to death, and that as a result there would be no blood pressure and no blood splattering everywhere. I think that this explanation makes sense. (But I still think that the snouts of the pigs would have blood stain)

  30. Also: what’s up with Qing? We are given to understand that kids born at the farm are shipped off to Birmingham, except for: a) Papa J’s (suspected) progeny and b) children of Chinese descent for Mazu to raise as Daiyu replacements. Qing is neither. Why does she stay at the farm?

    Lin has been around enough to know, presumably, that even if Qing somehow slipped through the net her next child with Will wouldn’t be allowed to stay with her. Isn’t she therefore aware that she’s setting herself up for wrenching pain regardless even if she goes through another pregnancy? From her poor, brainwashed point of view, it’s much better to yield to Taio and have sex with him (I understand the “him” being referred to in the night time conversation between Lin and Will is Taio). Taio’s progeny will be kept at the farm, so Lin won’t be separated from them.

  31. Elisa,

    I understand that Qing was kept in Chapman Farm because she was Wace’s granddaughter (though Lin did not know that herself is Wace’s daughter).

    I understand from Chapter 36 that: Mazu told Lin that either she had sex with ‘him’ (which I personally thinks refers to Andy Zhou) or went to Birmingham (and thus separate from Qing). So she begged Will to ‘increase’ her again, so that she temporarily need not to have sex with ‘him’. However, Will had found it immoral to have sex with the underaged Lin, so he refused.

    In summary, I don’t think Lin ever worried about her children being sent to Birmingham.

  32. Elisa,

    Sorry, according to Chapter 54, it was Giles who Lin has to have sex with.

  33. @Elisa, I think Qing gets to stay at the farm (dubious privilege that this is…) because she’s Papa J’s granddaughter—given that Lin is his daughter via the rape of Deirdre Doherty. So if I have that right and grandchildren count, future Lin babies would also stay at the farm.

    It does make me curious that Lin is resisting sex with Taio—apparently with some success, or else they wouldn’t be talking about shipping her off to Birmingham for punishment/reprogramming. Lin was born on the farm and knows nothing outside the cult. She’s been brought up to believe that if a man wants sex, you give it to him. Meanwhile, I find it hard to believe that if Taio wants sex with her, he wouldn’t just forcibly rape her. She’s brainwashed and helpless, with no friends or (known) family on the outside to interfere if they get worried about her. Both her resistance and Taio’s (I guess) restraint seem a little odd to me.

  34. Oooh thank you both! It was my impression that Lin was Deirdre’s husband’s daughter, because Deirdre didn’t want to go with anyone else (hence the rape). Need to reread that part. Also with Becca a virgin, Emily an outcast and Mazu’s surviving children all male, I had sort of come to understand that the male line is all that matters but of course, daughters of Papa J count too! Thank you.

  35. Kelly Loomis says

    This is a very small detail but did we ever get a payoff to the several mentions of Emily Pirthbright refusing to “eat her vegetables”? Why did she refuse to eat them? Just basic rebelliousness or something more that Rowling did not follow up.

    I also think Strike accepted that Bijou’s pregnancy wasn’t his child too easily. I think it might very well turn out to be his and a DNA test will come up to prove it. Bijou may do something stupid which causes her QC to question her claims. A revelation that Strike fathered a child may come at a time when he and Robin are finally getting together properly thus throwing a whole problem into the new level of relationship. But it could also be a great character development time for him as he makes different choices than his own DNA proven father made in regards to him. He – even though he doesn’t want kids – may end up being a greatly involved dad.

  36. Nick Jeffery says

    I think Emily refuses to eat the vegetables because Kevin is now buried under the vegetable patch.

  37. Kelly Loomis says

    Oh Nick – yes! I thought it might have something to do with the “non farming to actually eat” that was going since they ate tinned vegetables but Kevin being there is just awful to think about so that makes perfect sense!

  38. Kelly Loomis says

    And interestingly, as soon as I posted this, I JUST listened to the section where Emily took her fresh carrots out of the dinner and only ate the tinned tomatoes.

  39. I was wondering about practical arrangements after joining the UHC, as people were originally only recruited for a week’s retreat. so when they decide to stay indefinitely, wouldn’t most of them have to handle some serious business first, like quitting jobs and what to do with their houses/apartments? Rowena forestalled this problem by saying she was between jobs, but most people wouldn’t be. I don’t think that after just one week you’re already so brainwashed that you wouldn’t care at all about things like that, would you?
    And wouldn’t you think the UHC would put a lot more pressure on the richer recruits, moneywise? like, make it a logical consequence of joining that you immediately take steps to sell your house and give the proceeds to the UHC. which would be smart anyway, binding people more tightly and not leaving them a way back.
    I thought the donation of 1000 pounds after quite a long time was a bit pitiful for a person wearing 1000 pound outfits… I’m sure the church would push a lot harder and for a lot more.
    Especially as, on the other side, they move at an amazing speed, when it comes to pressurizing recruits in other ways. I would have expected a lot more carrot at first, and a lot less stick. I think it defeats logic that most people join after a week of hard labor, meager food and little sleep, when promised a “retreat”. I think they’d have to build pressure a lot more slowly… but maybe I just know the wrong people 🤔

    I agree with other people’s points on basic name checking. no way they’d let Rowena Ellis in with no proof that she actually exists.

    And on the point of birth control: no way Robin would have gone without first having an IUD implanted. she just couldn’t guarantee getting out of there without being raped, not by a long shot.

    and yes, she couldn’t have gone so long without consenting to spirit bonding. for years we’ve been told how attractive she is, and now no-one is supposed to notice? come on…
    I’m missing a really good cover story there from the beginning… something along the lines of papa J having his eye on her (he would, anyway!), but worked out better than it was now…

  40. @Ina, really good points. I also raised an eyebrow at the “not much carrot, lots of stick” approach with new recruits. Especially with wealthy recruits like “Rowena,” I’d expect much more of a “honeymoon phase” where they butter you up and make you think commune living will be idyllic. (Top-flight celebs like Noli Seymour DO seem to get this special treatment.)

    I guess my counterargument would be this: The UHC thinks they’ve already carefully selected people who are really into the whole thing—otherwise they wouldn’t have been invited to the farm. And people like that get a thrill out of “sacrificing for the cause.” These are people in search of a purpose. If it all seems too easy, maybe they find it unsatisfying. They’d rather be able to congratulate themselves on their noble toil and renunciation of the Materialist World.

    But even these “true believers” don’t quite know what they’re getting into, I think. One week of hard labor and deprivation is an “experience” that you can feel proud and inspired about. *Months* of it will grind you down, especially once you’re a full member and everything intensifies. Maybe that’s the part that new recruits don’t grasp yet. And once they’ve been ground down by months of hardship on the farm, it’s too late to reconsider their choices.

    You make another good point about jobs and property on the outside. I think that’s partially answered by those letters to family members, telling them to sell the family businesses, etc. I imagine that would also extend to personal homes and property, for those who have them. As for jobs: Again, I think anyone selected for the week-long “retreat” has already been identified as a strong candidate to stay permanently. In general, those would be people without strong commitments to their outside lives. I doubt that includes many really dedicated careerists. I rather imagine a mix of people too wealthy to need work, flaky people who dabble in a little of this and that without really committing, and homeless/marginalized people who weren’t working or living very functional lives to begin with. Although there might be a few, I can’t imagine many people with thriving careers suddenly up-and-joining the UHC. But for those who do, I guess that’s for them to sort out in their letters: “Dear Law Firm: I hereby resign to join a fringy church in the middle of nowhere. Please consider a hefty donation in your next round of charitable giving…”

  41. All good points Ina. Be interesting to know what research JKR has done on this book. There must be cult books out there? Would she have talked to survivors?

    I was amazed when I saw that Rowena’s examination by Dr Zhou to see if she could be “cleared for fasting” didn’t involve any kind of gynecological inspection. Given women are brought in as baby producing machines, wouldn’t Zhou have actively looked for an IUD?

  42. In Chapter 38, I noticed a grammatical issue:
    “‘No offence,’ said Nicholas, though his manner was that of a man who didn’t particularly mind being offensive and might even pride HERSELF on it.” Clearly, that should be himself?! I read over it several times to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood it.

    Also, as @PercyL mentioned, Lin Doherty is referred to as Lin Pirbright in Chapter 41, which also tripped me up. I started to doubt whether I’d correctly interpretated earlier descriptions.

    I did notice a few other minor grammatical errors earlier on in the book, but I can’t remember where exactly. Things like missing conjunctions, in/on/at/etc.

    In terms of gaffes in the general plot, I thought it was a bit out of character for Robin to enter the temple at Rupert Court alone. Quite aside from her promise to Strike, she has no idea how many people are actually in the temple and it just seems like pure recklessness. All she has to do is wait for Midge. As readers, at this point, we don’t know who might have a gun (although I’m sure Strike and Robin know that Abigail does), so it really annoyed me that Robin took this unnecessary risk. We know she’s a smart person who knows first-hand the horrors of the church, so it doesn’t make sense for her to do this.

    I would’ve liked to have seen the rest of the conversation between Robin, Mazu and Becca when Robin tells Becca to explain to Mazu why she’s the only virgin spirit-wife. I thought it was building up to some more drama, so I felt a bit disappointed when all we got was Strike’s discussion with Abigail.

    Still, I did enjoy The Running Grave overall. The gaffes in names/grammar were slightly disruptive to my reading experience – I just wish they’d had someone else proofreading it before publication – but I was able to get past them. The errors weren’t Lethal White-level (I’m looking at you, Ciara Porter/Parker). I did feel quite anxious reading The Running Grave, until Robin finally left Chapman farm and then the feeling of relief was immense!

  43. Please correct me, but the risk of pregnancy for Robin might have been addressed with a shot of Depo-Provera, could it not? I’ve read they last for three months and are 96 percent effective. Unfortunately for Robin, they also are proven to greatly constrain melodrama.

    I get it that Robin’s a warrior, but in my second time through the book, the almost indifference she has toward pregnancy and rape—not to mention murder, physical and mental abuse/torture, starvation—really stand out. Virtually every interview the detectives have leading up to Robin’s immersion into UHC are dire warnings about what goes on there. Air raid sirens, radiation symbols and flat-lining heart monitors are about the only things missing.

    Yet, when Strike voices his token concerns about coerced sex, Robin says calmly: “If it comes to actual attempted rape, I’ll leave and go straight to the police . . . Mission accomplished: we’ve got something on the church.” (!?!)

    I have to believe this degree of willful blindness to actual mechanics of rape and risk-courting on both detectives’ parts is intentional—speaking to Robin’s dissatisfaction with her life and Strike’s manipulative traits. Honestly, putting the love of your life in harm’s way while rationalizing that it will undercut the competition is a side of Strike that’s pretty repellant.

  44. @Albus: As for going straight to the police in case of rape… chalk this up as yet another reason to leave a phone in the plastic rock! Never mind communication with Strike and the team (though that’s pretty important too): A phone means that in an emergency—or upon uncovering blatant criminality—Robin can actually *call the police* instead of mounting a harrowing escape just to get to the nearest phone… by which time the UHC has hidden all the evidence and concocted a cover story. The more I think about it, the more this seems less like a simple gaffe and more like a gaping void of a plot hole.

  45. David Hawes says

    Re-reading and this detail seemed incongruous: pg 132 it says Robin was due to leave for Coventry the next morning at 5am, but it’s only a 2 hr drive and she wasn’t due to be there until 12:30 pm.

  46. Just finished TRG late last night- I may need a slower reread but I’m still not clear, how exactly did Becca know that Cherie had daughters in her police interview tape?

  47. Not a gaffe, really, but since some of us have been using this page to discuss things that just don’t make a lot of sense to us, here’s mine: I find it odd that UHC members continue to use their real full names from the outside world. This would seem to affirm continued ties between “former flesh objects” who are no longer supposed to invest any value in blood relationships. Especially awkward for those like Becca and Emily Pirbright (and their mother) who’d pretty much prefer to live on separate planets.

    Maybe more importantly, this would make it easier for outside trouble makers to trace people who’ve joined the UHC. We’re told Will Edensor is easy to identify because of his height, but imagine for a sec that private detectives are trying to extract someone less distinctive looking. With the physical changes typical of Chapman Farm living—weight loss, sometimes shaved heads—investigators could easily be left in doubt that they’ve even located the right person (especially since church members are sometimes moved to other locations, like Birmingham). Plus, anyone heard using a church member’s “Bubble World” name could be instantly identified as a suspicious intruder.

    Just seems to make sense on every level for new members to take new names as part of their induction (possibly assigned by the Waces, just as they have naming rights for new babies).

  48. SK, I had surnames on my (long) list of offenses as well—but held off lest someone think I’m a Galbraith-hater : ). Actually, I love the books—especially the two flawed lead characters—but it’s been disappointing to find so many gaffes and obvious inconsistencies which, for me, started ramping up in IBH. The only reason I can think that the UHC would not obliterate bubble-world names would be the ongoing need to access their bank accounts. But for day-to-day identification, using UHC-given names would further isolate members from reality and bind them more completely to the “church.”

  49. I’ve now done some rereading, and the issues that remain for me are as follows:

    1) The supposed millions that Daiyu was worth are never satisfactorily explained. In the middle of the book, reference is made to the “millions that she was worth, dead”, implying that Mazu and Wace would inherit what Alexander Graves had left her. This would appear to me to be incorrect – upon Daiyu’s death, Graves’ wealth would revert to HIS closest family, not hers. During Strike’s confrontation with Abigail at the end, Strike seems to make the opposite inference – he refers to Abigail being impatient with her father “cooing Daiyu, or, more accurately, her wealth” – meaning Daiyu could only inherit Graves’ money while alive. Which is it? Is the reference to “the money she was worth, dead” an error?

    2) Importance is given to this thing whereby Wace was supposed to leave for Birmingham with Rosie Fernsby on the morning Daiyu died, but for some obscure reason didn’t. Strike refers to this during his confrontation with Abigail at the end, but doesn’t explain it. What was that about?

  50. @Albus, I certainly don’t want to be pegged as a Galbraith-hater either! I’ve greatly enjoyed the last two books (so much that I haven’t stopped rereading bits and pieces of this one since I finished it a week ago). So I’m not saying Ink Black Heart and Running Grave are lesser stories than the earlier books. (I like them both better than Lethal White—my personal LEAST-favorite.)

    But I agree there’s a certain… shoddiness… about the last two. It’s partly the gaffes and inconsistencies that we’ve been talking about. But I’m also just finding the characters and dialogue a shade less clever. Fewer really funny moments, IMO. Fewer really memorable, sharply drawn characters. Fewer really satisfying AHA moments when some piece of the puzzle comes together.

    Without knowing any inside details, my diagnosis would be that… she’s rushing. I don’t know why she would be: When you’re JK Rowling, there’s certainly no monetary pressure to churn out another book, nor time pressure to publish again before everyone forgets who you are. (No chance of that!) But these last two books have come out at a very fast clip, and I’ve got to think they’d be more… polished… if she’d taken her time.

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