Running Grave: The Gaffes

It is a feature of 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.


  1. @MC, I think we’re supposed to take away that Becca knows Cherie has daughters because the UHC has been keeping close tabs on her… or maybe all ex-members, but it would be especially challenging with “Cherie” because of all the name changes—which shows they’ve put some real effort into keeping track of her.

  2. @Elisa, here’s the only significance I can glean from the bit about Rosie Fernsby, Papa J, and Birmingham: The trip didn’t happen because Rosie and her family escaped the farm the night before. From what I can tell… this just seems like a bit of over-involved narrative misdirection. It’s supposed to get you thinking about Papa J’s mysterious movements: Why the cancelled trip? Could he have been present when Daiyu disappeared, even though he shouldn’t have been?? But the explanation turns out to be more prosaic: He didn’t take Rosie to Birmingham because… Rosie had left.

    When we find out Rosie and her family were skulking around in the early hours of The Night Before, I guess we’re also led to believe they might’ve witnessed something with Daiyu… but that’s a bit of a dead-end too, I think. I could’ve done without this plotline. There’s just a little too much of it, without much payoff. Seems like there are less convoluted ways to cast doubt on Papa J’s whereabouts at the time of the disappearance.

  3. Thank you SK! Yes, I suspect that’s all it is, rather disappointingly. Same with the mysterious jogger on the beach. Was that meant to be Abigail in disguise, or a genuinely random jogger who doesn’t have anything to do with anything? Either way it’s not conclusively explained.

  4. @Elisa, I got stuck/confused on the jogger too! I don’t really see how it could be Abigail, who’d just strategically positioned herself on early duty at Chapman Farm to “witness” Cherie driving off with “Daiyu” …and convince the other poor “witnesses” of what they’d seen. It also makes no sense for it to be Papa J, who wasn’t in on any of this. My conclusion is… random jogger! Is it, I guess, a touch of realism? A reminder that some stuff will always turn out to be extraneous and not every piece will fit into the puzzle (as we’re told outright at one point)? True enough! But it was pretty overplayed for a “clue” of no significance at all….

  5. Ed Shardlow says

    After the numerous grammatical errors in IBH, I decided to keep a log of those in TRG as I came across them:

    p152 “ready to reborn” should be “ready to be reborn”

    p241 “Lynn/Lynne Advertiser”

    p644 “yet trace her yet”

    p768 “sat down back down”

    p830 “I’m try not to”

    p846 “they’ll must have him”

    There was one other that I noticed but forgot to note down and then couldn’t remember where it was.

  6. Ed Shardlow says

    Regarding the supposed Daiyu inheritance error, I think it does make sense.

    The quarter of a million was left to Daiyu in Alexander Graves’ will. This was money in his own name rather than any kind of family trust, so would have been in her name, although as she was under 18 the executors of the will would act on her behalf to hold the money for Daiyu. If she then dies intestate, that money would pass to her next of kin, which would be Mazu.

    The family home however is subject to a trust, that’s the only way it could be stipulated that it has to pass to the eldest child. The question of Daiyu’s DNA evidence would presumably pertinent when Colonel Graves dies and they need to decide whether his eldest child had an eldest child. If not, then it would presumably go to James as the next eldest surviving descendants.

  7. Ed Shardlow says

    Made a gaffe of my own in my last comment. The Graves house would revert to Philippa, not James…

  8. Ed Shardlow says

    A minor gaffe; on p65 when looking into census records for Chapman Farm, Robin says “You can only access census records up to 1921”. The 1921 records were released in 2022. There’s a 100 year embargo. You can currently access records up to 1921, but when our story is set, in 2016, you could only go up to 1911.

  9. Ed Shardlow says

    @Brenna, along the same lines as the reference to Nicholas Delauney “herself”, on p813 Strike refers to Phillipa as “Daiyu’s aunt – brother of the Stolen Prophet”.

    These two together seem quite revealing. It looks like it might originally have been Phillip and Nicola and they got gender-swapped before the final draft.

  10. Thank you – I spent hours trying to work out where I had missed the reveal regarding the jogger.

  11. Sabine Lechtenfeld says

    Albus, I am late at this specific party, but I wanted to tell you, that I like your astute comments!
    I started to read all Strike novels only recently because I didn’t really like Strike1 when I read it many years ago. It just didn’t click. But I have discovered that JKR’s subsequent novels are better. She has found her strike – sorry, stride 😉 by now and she developed into an adept writer of mystery novels for an adult readership. But I am truly bothered by the growing multitude of unforced errors in her novels. Since I have been binge-reading from “The Silkworm” onwards, I have noticed specifically all those continuity errors. And since JKR’s geography knowledge and cultural differences seems to be kind of shaky, how come that neither JKR nor her editors and proof readers didn’t notice thatBasra isn’t in Afghanistan?? How can it happen that Charlotte’s mother who was a highly demanded it-girl before her marriage, is
    sometimes called Tula Clermont, but occasionally also Tara Clairmont! I only moticed this because I have specific theory in mind which could be important if someone will eventually question if Charlotte really committed suicide. And Tula/Tara, who was in high demand as an it-girl before her marriage, might become a person of interest.
    Whatever, I think that many of those gaffes are terribly annoying, because we can never know for sure, if we are looking at a stupid error or an important clue! This is especially sensitive when we are talking about timelines. I think that a mystery writer who invites her audience to look for important clues, should be especially careful.
    As to the dicey question if certain narratives are really plausible, I have to agree with those readers who were bothered by the plotline of Robin’s undercover stint in this abominable cult. I have to say that JKR did a great job in painting a vivid picture of how such an organisation works, and how good it is in mind control games. But a woman like Robin should have never entered this realm without many more precautions and safety mechanisms. Several commenters have pointed out that she would’ve definitely needed birth control devices, because rape is always a distinct possibility. If all medications are confiscated, it’s still possible to get implants before entering such a community. These devices work for three months. But while I understand that the narrative is much more powerful with Robin as the undercover agent, it was an unacceptable risk to use her as a mole. A man would’ve been a much better choice. But as I said, it’s understandable that JKR used her heroine Robin instead of introducing a suitable male protagonist.
    The leaders of the cult were actually very dumb whenever it was important for the overall narrative. A few background checks of Robin’s alter ego Rowena should have revealed that Rowena didn’t exist. It’s totally implausible
    that the cult leaders didn’t try harder to protect themselves. Is there no one trustworthy in JKR’s vicinity
    with whom she could discuss the plotlines while she is writing her novels?
    As to the plausibility of the inheritance plotline which has been criticised by many readers: it was certainly convoluted, and I think it was kind of dumb that the perpetrators didn’t make sure that they would have something which could prove once and for all that Alex and not Papa J was the biological father of the little girl. A hair sample could have been very helpful. But I am not sure that the plan could only have worked if Mazu had been married to Alex, as some readers have said. Mazu was the mother of the girl. She was next-of-kin. Therefore she should be able to inherit without having been married to Alex!
    Despite all those issues I enjoyed the novel. The way the cult is described, is very visceral and emotionally disturbing – and when I read about the pigs which were kept for various purposes, I knew immediately that these creatures had been used occasionally for getting rid of incriminating human bodies 😉 JKR isn’t the first mystery writer who introduced pigs which can help to solve the pesky problem of how to get rid of human remains. But this has actually happened occasionally in real life. I remember a highly publiced case of a German farmer who was tried and convicted for having murdered his wife and then fed her carcass to his pigs.
    As to the still unanswered question of who killed Leda Strike, the latest novel hasn’t shaken my conviction that Ted Nancarrow killed his own sister, or that he was at least the mastermind, who organized it. The actual killer might’ve been someone else. But I think that Ted had a different motive than the one which is favored by John. The fact that Ted’s mental facilities are sharply declining, doesn’t change my mind. But it will be a race against time to get relevant information out of Uncle Ted. Since his wife Joan died, Ted is the only one left who knows about all skeletons in the closets of the Nancarrow family, and since he will live in London, Strike will have the possibility to see him more often – and he just might get something out of his uncle which will eventually convince Strike to consider other perps than just his mother’s rogue husband

  12. Sabine Lechtenfeld says

    Ed Shardlow, I fully agree with your assessment as far as the inheritance plotline is concerned. As Daiyu’s mother Mazu definitely could’ve got her hands on Alex’s money without being married to him. But getting the family estate would be a bit more complicated, and a DNA test would be important. And that’s where I am a bit lost. Since Daiyu was declared dead although her body wasn’t found, a DNA test would only be possible if samples of her body would’ve been stored somewhere. But this possibility has never been mentioned. When I was reading the novel I believed that the girl was really Jonathan’s biological daughter, and that the idea to claim that Alex was after all her biological father, was spawned by the possibility to inherit Alex ‘s money. And because Alex’s family might’ve wanted DNA evidence, it was mandatory that Daiyu’s body would never be found! This would have made sense. But JKR had other plans, which make the whole inheritance scheme very convoluted and not very well thought through.

  13. Sabine Lechtenfeld says

    Since I accused RKR of having made too many unforced errors, I should confess that my comments aren’t perfect, either! I am not talking about several spelling mistakes. However, when I said that the plot to kill Daiyu in order to get her father’s inheritance, was far too convoluted, and the perps should have at least saved a few strands of Daiyu’s hair in order to be able to prove later that she was really Alex’s biological daughter, I completely forgot that the inheritance scheme actually wasn’t the reason for Daiyu’s murder. That plotline was just a very large red herring, and Abigail had a different motive for killing her half-sister. However, while I think that JKR managed to create an interesting character in Abigail, I thought the revelation that sisterly jealosy and not good old fashioned greed was the motive for the very convoluted killing scheme, came a bit too much out of the left field and the ground wasn’t very well prepared. I think we should have spent a bit more time with Abigail. After Janice Beatty in “Troubled Blood” Abigail is JKR’s second female killer, and both have in common that the body of the victim whose death Strike’s agency is investigating, wasn’t found, and the victims had to be declared dead. I think that Janice is a brilliant and convincing female serial killer, although it is debatable if it was a very clever idea to cement the body of Margot into a sofa. Janice was very, very lucky that the body remained hidden for decades! But I guess that mystery writers have the license to a certain amount of hyperbole 😉 However I think that as a perp Abigail isn’t quite as convincing and shocking as Janice. While I like “The Running Grave”, “Troubled Blood” remains my favorite Strike novel.

    A few thoughts about fratricide: In Strike1 Lula Landry has been killed by her own brother. But since both were adopted as kids, they weren’t biological siblings. In “Lethal White” Freddy almost throttled his kid half-brother Raffael, and in “The Running Grave” Abigail successfully kills her half-sister. In JKR’s Strike-universe siblings seem to be at each other’s throats quite often. Does JKR prepare us for the most shocking case of fratricide: the murder of Leda Strike by her own biological brother Ted? As I have said in previous comments, I belong to the probably rather small faction of Strikers who believe that Uncle Ted did it, although he might not have been the actual killer. But he might’ve been the mastermind, who organized the murder of his sister Leda.

    “Mine eyes dazzle. Cover her face! She died young!”
    Says the brother when he sees the body of his beautiful sister, whose murder has been engineered by her own brothers. This is a quote from John Webster’s famous pot boiler “The Duchess Of Malfi”, which has inspired famous mystery writers like Agatha Christie and PD James. I am sure that JKR is familiar with the play. Was she also inspired by it? We have to wait and see.

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