Strike on Twitter – Sixteen Characters in Search of a Story

Last week, while idly scrolling through Twitter, I came upon a fun bunch of accounts created after characters from the Strike novels. Two in particular caught my eye: Anomie was apparently created very quickly after the new plot synopsis was released, and Roddy Fforbes, who we never meet and is mentioned only twice in Troubled Blood. 

I have collected below the new accounts, while we are waiting for The Ink Black Heart why not follow? They are all acted in good humour, and not above poking fun at the ‘official’ accounts. I predict lots of shenanigans, as these accounts discover how their new story unfolds.

 

Daughter of Jasper Chiswell, Strike and Robin’s client.

The photograph is of Christina Cole who played Izzy Chiswell in the BBC television series, and the banner is of No. Fifty Cheyne the posh Chelsea restaurant, close to Izzy’s mews house in Upper Cheyne Row.

“Après la pluie, le beau temps” a French proverb meaning: “After rain there is good weather” or “Every Cloud has a silver lining”

izzychizzyinteriors.co.uk unfortunately is not a real website.

 

Strike’s friend from Cornwall and married to Nick Herbert.

The photograph is of Caitlin Innes Edwards, the actress who played Ilsa Herbert in Strike, and the banner is the waterfront at St Mawes.

Cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex – When the reason of the law ceases, the law itself ceases. A term in common law to argue than no statute is needed to remove a law once the reasons for the law’s existence no longer exists.

 

Stike’s oldest (not best) friend.

The Photograph is of St Pirans Cross in Penhale Sands, Cornwall and the banner shows the finish line of the Ironman 70.3 (or Half Ironman) competition.

‘Rowed part of the way,’ said Ted, sounding amused. ‘He made it sound like one of his Ironman competitions. All covered in oilskins he was when he got here. Big backpack full of shopping. He’s all right, that Polworth.’

Troubled Blood p443

 

The CEO of Roper Chard Publishing.

The photograph is of Tim McInnerny who played Daniel Chard, and the banner is a study of hands by Lionardo da Vinci. “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing” was written by Slavadore Dali in Dali by Dali 1970.

 

Strike’s ex-girlfriend.

The photograph is of the actress Natasha O’Keeffe, and the banner is of Croy Castle in the Netherlands. The “Castle of Croy” being entirely fictional.

On 4 December this year, the seventeenth-century chapel at the Castle of Croy (NEVER ‘Croy Castle’ – it annoys the family) will be dusted off for its first wedding in over a century. Charlotte Campbell, breathtakingly beautiful daughter of 1960s It Girl Tula Clermont and academic and broadcaster Anthony Campbell, will marry the Hon Jago Ross, heir to the castle and to his father’s titles, principal of which is Viscount of Croy.

The Silkworm p230

“I hate and I love. And if you ask me how, I do not know: I only feel it, and I am torn in two.” This is the Catullus verse from Lethal White with a slightly different translation from Strike.

Squinting at the screen, Strike translated:

‘“I hate and I love. Why do I do it, you might ask? I don’t know. I just feel it, and it crucifies me . . .” that’s Catullus again. A famous one.’

Lethal White p530

https://twitter.com/TheRealCCRoss/status/1556182134515179520?s=20&t=Qx6a13–fjBLJ-WHKqZnqA

 

The photograph is of a gold tuning fork, and the banner is an aerial shot of Denmark Street centred on St Giles in the Fields.

 

The mysterious protagonist of The Ink Black Heart.

The photograph is the logo of the hackivist group Anonymous, using the Guy Fawkes mask from the graphic novel V for Vendetta.

 

Jonny Rokeby’s band.

The photograph is of a gold disc and the banner a guitarist on stage.

 

Computer scientist, younger brother of one of Strike’s old friends.

The photograph is of a Viper Pilot helmet from the television series Battle Star Galactica, and the banner is a screen of binary code.

The binary code in the bio is in ASCII code and translates to “Spanner in the wo9” as the final string of “works” has been cut off.

The handle for this account, @Spellacott, suggests a ‘ship’ than most of us have not yet considered.

On Friday morning, Strike returned from an outing to Starbucks to find Spanner sitting not on the sofa beside Robin’s desk, but on the desk itself. He had an unlit roll-up in his mouth, and was leaning over her, apparently being more amusing than Strike had ever found him, because Robin was laughing in the slightly grudging manner of a woman who is entertained, but who wishes, nevertheless, to make it clear that the goal is well defended.

The Cuckoo’s Calling p301

 

Roddy Fforbes is a real bit character from Lethal White, with only two mentions on one page. Known to Izzy Chiswell.

The photograph is of the British comic strip character Lord Snooty.

‘So, I hear you had dinner with Charlotte!’ she had blurted, before he had managed to pose a question.

‘There was no dinner. I sat with her for twenty minutes because she was feeling ill, then left.’ ‘Oh – sorry,’ said Izzy, cowed by his tone. ‘I – I wasn’t prying – Roddy Fforbes was in Franco’s and he spotted the pair of you . . . ’

If Roddy Fforbes, whoever he was, was spreading it around London that Strike was taking his heavily pregnant, married ex-fiancée out for dinner while her husband was in New York, the tabloids would definitely be interested, because wild, beautiful and aristocratic Charlotte was news.

Lethal White p625

 

Pat Chauncey is the new office manager introduced in Troubled Blood. Her handle, @SuperkingPatC, refers to her smoking habit.

Patricia Chauncey was fifty-six and looked sixty-five. A thin woman with a deeply lined, monkeyish face and implausibly jet-black hair, she vaped continually in the office, but was to be seen drawing deeply on a Superking the moment her feet touched the pavement at the end of the day’s work. Pat’s voice was so deep and rasping that she was often mistaken for Strike on the phone. She sat at what once had been Robin’s desk in the outer office and had taken over the bulk of the agency’s phone-answering and administrative duties now that Robin had moved to full-time detection.

Troubled Blood p65-66

The photograph is of the actress Ruth Sheen, and the header is of Denmark Street. Pat was quick to spot that the Robert Galbraith twitter account had spelt Shanker’s name wrong:

 

Mrs Hook is another blink and you’ll miss her character from Cuckoo’s Calling. She was Strike’s client whose husband was having an affair with her sister.

Mrs Hook, divested of orange coat and purple beret, and wearing what looked like a flowery pottery smock over jeans, had thrown herself on Strike’s chest and was punching it, all the while making a noise like a boiling kettle. On and on the one-note scream went, until it seemed that she must draw breath or suffocate.

Cuckoo’s Calling p94

One of the few things known about Mrs Hook, is her love of pottery.

 

Brian Mathers was an ex-client who sent death threats on pink, kitten covered paper, to Strike in Cuckoo’s Calling.

‘Well, he was checking her mobile regularly. He saw my number, and drew the obvious conclusion.’

‘That you’d told her he was having her watched?’

‘No, that I had been seduced by her charms and was her new lover.’

Robin clapped her hands over her mouth. Strike laughed.

‘Are your clients usually a bit mad?’ asked Robin, when she had freed her mouth again.

Cuckoo’s Calling p207

 

Strike’s sister and mother to Luke, Jack and Adam.

The banner is from the painting Three Brothers Leaping by Vickie Wade.

 

Lucky appears to be the client known as Two-Times, serial cuckold.

Two-Times was a previous client of the agency, who’d recently resurfaced after trying other private detectives and finding them unsatisfactory. Strike and Robin had previously investigated two of his girlfriends. At a superficial glance, he seemed most unlucky in love, a man whose partners, initially attracted by his fat bank balance, seemed incapable of fidelity. Over time, Strike and Robin had come to believe that he derived obscure emotional or sexual satisfaction from being cheated on, and that they were being paid to provide evidence that, far from upsetting him, gave him pleasure. Once confronted with photographic evidence of her perfidy, the girlfriend of the moment would be confronted, dismissed and another found, and the whole pattern repeated. This time round, he was dating a glamour model who thus far, to Two-Times’ poorly concealed disappointment, seemed to be faithful.

Troubled Blood p68

The photograph is of Marilyn Monroe and the banner is of an electronic trading desk.

 

Ciara Porter is the model and friend of Lula Landry in Cuckoo’s Calling.

The banner is a photograph of Madeleine cakes in their baking tin, and the twitter handle refers to her description in Cuckoo’s Calling:

To one side, leaning alone and sideways on the back of another chair, was Ciara Porter; alabaster fair, with long baby-blonde hair, wearing a white semi-transparent jumpsuit through which her pale, pointed nipples were clearly visible.

Cuckoo’s Calling p350

I initially missed this account, which I was very gently (and in character) chastised for:

A strange interaction with the Anomie account, since deleted.

 

Comments

  1. This is a mind-blowing collection, Nick! Thank you for assembling it and for your insightful annotations.

    Here are my first thoughts and questions:

    * The Tuning Fork in the Strike Agency cameo is a reference to the critical moment in Strike’s first conversation with John Bristow.

    ‘All I want, Strike,’ said Bristow hoarsely, the colour high in his thin face, ‘is justice.’

    He might have struck a divine tuning fork; the word rang through the shabby office, calling forth an inaudible but plangent note in Strike’s breast. Bristow had located the pilot light Strike shielded when everything else had been blown to ashes. He stood in desperate need of money, but Bristow had given him another, better reason to jettison his scruples.

    * Dan Chard’s appearance in this collection may have been the most surprising to me. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though; I think Louise predicterd more than a year ago that we’d see him in Strike6 as the publisher of Rokeby’s autobiography as mentioned in Silkworm. Still, can’t say I’m glad to see him!

    * I was happy to see St Giles church featured in the shot of Denmark Street. As I have written several times since my hurried visit to that part of London six years ago, the church dominates the neighborhood and it is beyond bizarre that it has never been mentioned in the series thus far. It is only steps from Strike’s apartment and office entrance, albeit around a corner. If Robin and Strike are put out of their premises in Strike6, I hope we get at least a farewell scene in the pews of St Giles before they leave the neighborhood.

    * Gotta love the Deadbeats tweets, especially the picture of Peter Gillespie, his being ID’s as the band’s manager, and the story of his attempt to make Eric Clapton pay for the creme bulee. Any one else see a resemblance to Peter Rowling or Pettigrew in the facial features?

    *Spanner is back and with the super intriguing #Spellacott tag. I’m very grateful for your translation of the note in digital, Nick, as well as the others in more conventional foreign languages. Egad, could Spanner actually be carrying a flame for Robin? I want to think that the tech joins the Agency in some capacity and the two eventually team up to play act a couple in an investigation…

    *Roddy Forbes! As you say, this a real stretch for the most Serious of Strikers to recall. His tweets, though, and byline notes suggest a strong P. G. Wodehouse influence, a Rowling favorite author. I’m already looking forward to the reappearance of Izzy and the first lines from Roddy, our posh couple, in Strike6 with Strike and Robin prepared to play Team Jeeves to their Bertie Woosters. Note the Bertie reference in his tweet!

    *I was disappointed to see that the cameo picture for Pat Chauncey’s twitter account is of the actress I hoped would be playing Janice Beatty in Strike5’s teevee adaptation. Great catch that her comment about professionalism was in regard to the misspelling of Shanker’s name!

    *Your ‘Lucky-In-Business’ spotting as the ever unlucky in love Two Times may be your best spotting in this spectacular set, Nick! I hope this means we’re about to meet this perennial Agency client (or one of his girlfriends, even an ex).

    On to more pressing questions:

    I have inferred from your notes that you think each of these twitter accounts has an individual clever Strike Fan behind it. Forgive me please if this was not your implication and is not your belief! I think the professionalism and the playful interaction of the accounts suggests someone on the payroll of Rowling, Inc., even someone being guided by The Presence herself. That note from Pat Chauncey about “leading social media” may be the tipping of the hand by self-reference in this regard. Do you think this is a credible possibility?

    How did you find these and what moved you to collect them?

    What are the various dates of joining twitter? Did they all spring to life in roughly the same time, a Pre-Cambrian Twitter Explosion indicative of intelligent marketing design?

    There are a preponderant number of Cuckoo’s Calling characters in this collection: Mrs Hook, Brian Mathers and his wife, Spanner, and the Tuning Fork allusion. I hope we’re being set-up for their return in Strike7. Or is there another reason for a Cuckoo heavy list?

    Thank you again, Nick, for the investment of time and talent it took to put together this tableau of twitter treats!

  2. Nick Jeffery says

    Thank you John! Especially for the tuning fork spot – that one really stumped me.
    Three hypotheses: i. this is a group of like minded fans; ii this is one *very* talented fan; iii this is a professional marketing exercise.
    All of the accounts were created after June 2022.
    I think I have discounted hypothesis i. in my own mind. The degree of coordination would be difficult, and the accounts are of a uniformly high quality.

  3. There are at least two clues for Strike6 in the tweets you shared, Nick.

    The Agency’s note to Izzy Chiswell: “Might need your interior design ideas soon though, so keep in touch.”

    Dan Chard’s comment about the Deadbeat’s tweet: “What a wonderful bon mot. One can imagine a collection of similar beautifully bound for the entertainment of interested parties.”

    The first all but confirms the suspected move from Denmark Street in ‘Ink Black Heart’ and the second a Chard publication of Rokeby stories.

    Could this gaggle of tweeters be a vehicle through which Rowling, Inc., will drop clues about the coming book and pump interest in the publication at the end of the month? If so, it’s a wonderfully creative and exotic end-around. If not for you, Nick, how long would it have taken for Strike fandom to become aware of this group? Other than Beatrice3, the Burke uber-fan?

  4. Nick Jeffery says

    I discovered these accounts purely by chance reading the replies to the official accounts.
    There may well be further accounts to search for, certainly Ciara Porter, which I’ve added above.

  5. Ciara’s account may be the best of the lot! Check out her responses to Charlotte here: https://twitter.com/TheRealCCRoss/status/1543056551493107713

  6. Nick, Mr. Granger,

    Taken altogether, the finding of all these interconnected twitter accounts is a work of masterclass close reading. It also opens up a window into a hitherto unsuspected, and seemingly new aspect of Rowling’s work as a creative author. It’s not the first time she’s used social media as part of her marketing strategies. However, this is the first I’ve ever seen of her using her characters to tell a story through apps like Twitter. For the record, what she’s doing here is by no means a new phenomenon. I myself have been familiar with this particular narrative technique, or type of storytelling for some time. However, it might be the case that not all HogPro readers (or professors?) may be familiar with what “Mr. Galbraith” is doing with these fictional accounts. So perhaps it’s best to introduce a new word, catchphrase, or artistic practice into the toolbox she keeps in her shed. The phrase you are looking for is ARG, or Alternate Reality Game. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Rowling take an interest in this venue.

    In order to help explain what an ARG is, I’ll have to provide some helpful links to aid this discussion. The best explanation I’ve heard goes as follows. “An Alternate Reality Game, or ARG for short, is a type of interactive game which consists of puzzles, codes, and fake websites hidden around the internet. Giving off the illusion they are “real.” There are many different types of ARG surrounding the internet. But the one thing they have in common is that they usually never tell you it’s fake. It presents all the information as if it’s real, and that it’s actually happening in our world. The creators of these games usually keep it quiet and let the audience find all the clues themselves. When they are created, it’s never announced publicly. The creator would usually just start their ARG, and then leave a clue on a random website, or a forum for someone to find, and start investigating with their friends. These Alternate Reality Games create a fine line between “reality” and fiction. Because of this, it makes you, the player, much more invested into figuring out each puzzle you come across during the game”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYcyOJkdeOI

    Put like that, it’s easy to see why a writer such as Rowling would be drawn to this format, as she could well see the potential for the sort of cyphering creative storytelling possibilities that are not just her forte. They’re the sort of thing that’s right up her alley. I think casual readers should just except the fact that their favorite author is really fond of riddles, puzzles, and mind games. The best excuse I’ve got for this is that she must a big fan of either the Gemini constellation, or the planet Mercury. Go figure, then.
    Here are the important points that should be noted, however. The first is that the Alternate Reality Mode, or format of storytelling, does not originate with Rowling. Nor am I at all certain it counts as a 21st century creative phenomena. I didn’t expect to have to bring up the Gothic genre again, so soon. The irony is that it is precisely in the October Country where ARG’s format seem to have gotten its start.

    The biggest title in the Horror genre that is most connected with the ARG format is still well known to fan communities both within and out of Rowling’s works. It’s a Found Footage story known as the Blair Witch Project. So why even bring that up? Well, the interesting thing is that the neither the ARG film, or its chosen format, can count as at all original. Instead, the roots of ARG writing seems to go as far back the early, Victorian-Edwardian days of the Horror genre. It is just possible to trace the origins of Alternate Reality storytelling to two notable literary sources. The first is a short story called “Ghost Hunt” by Herbert Russell (H.R.) Wakefield. The second is just some old “Gothic Romance” told in the epistolary novel format. I think its title was “Dracula”, or something like that.

    What unites each story is that they relate an encounter with the Supernatural in a way that was considered the “documentary format” of the times. Stoker relates his epic of terror through a series of correspondences, and journal entries. Wakefield’s story features an investigation of a haunted house that goes naturally-supernaturally wrong. The gimmick is that it’s all being related to the reader as a live radio broadcast, with the doomed announcer’s ominous last words telling the stations operators to “Switch it off”. It was this “faux documentary style” of narration that seems to have caught on with artists and audiences in a big way. It allowed for an avenue of narrative immersion that many found congenial. It allowed audiences a way into the most outlandish of narratives with the help of a stylistic approach that was dedicated to making the unreal at least “sound” real for the duration of the story.

    That’s all an ARG amounts to, really. Just a simple narrative trick that allows the writer to have fun playing with the format. It’s also a good way of satirizing the false sense of realism that most audiences tend to operate under. This is something that the makers of “Blair Witch” tapped into for their own genre entry. And they were able to play their audience like a harp for a long time before coming clean with their little, latter day “Moon Hoax”. Come to think of it, Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds Broadcast” is another good example of the ARG approach. It’s the ability to encourage the audience’s participation with “Mockumentary” stylistic approaches, and the use of puzzles and games, that seems to have become a very recent appeal for Rowling, as it plays into all of her constant authorial strengths.

    It seems like the idea of Rowling as an Alternate Reality Gamer, or “Mockumentary” writer is shaping up to be yet another aspect of her literary repertoire. It’s not one that I think anyone was expecting from her. And yet what has to be admitted is that it is well in keeping with her standard narrative practice. That could very well be the biggest draw of the format for her purposes. It allows her to stretch her legs in an artistic sense, while also still letting her play on all her familiar strengths and tropes. With all this in mind, I leave off with yet another link that might help readers get a further understanding of Rowling’s latest addition to her writer’s toolbox. If she keeps this up, then the video below may come in handy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftCKeWJordI&t=334s

  7. Nick Jeffery says

    Wow thank you Chris! If this is ARG and written by Rowling I will be surprised, but the characters are very carefully constructed by someone with obvious talent.

  8. Two things stand out. Is Ruth Sheen playing Pat and does Cormoran quit smoking? As pointed out on the Reddit sub today, lots and lots of folks know the details of the book. Lots of folks know who plays whom in the adaptation, as well. Is this whole thing run by a couple of folks in the know? Yes, even JKR’s promo team?

  9. Jeannette Throneberry says

    Wow! My mind is spinning! My casually collected ideas of possibilities for IBH have certainly been augmented by these brilliant posts! I am a retired English Literature teacher and my mind sees such possibilities in lessons for this tech savvy generation. Pretending that I am Pat, I spotted a wee error in Chris’ third paragraph – “to except” should be “to accept”. I also know that autocorrect is not always correct either. Thanks for showing me educational uses of/for social media platforms.

  10. Nick, Prof Throneberry,

    No need to mention it. Besides, I just realized one other facet of this ARG approach that might be very appropriate to Rowling’s upcoming book. Here’s how it “might” go. The story itself centers around a “Death of the Artist”. In this case, the plot synopsis tells us that she is a “creator of a popular comic”, no more, no less. Now, here is where the recent spate of JKR’s Alternate Reality Gaming might play right into the next Strike Mystery.

    It’s been asked before if it’s at all possible that Edie Ledwell, the victim of the novel, was going to be revealed as the creator of a web comic. That’s where you create a comic book designed specifically for the digital, or online internet format. The same principle applies to other “online content” such as e-books, or written blogs, like this one. Here’s why that might be important, and help explain the recent discovery of Rowling’s ARG. If it should turn out the Edie is (or was) a digital content creator, a writer or artist for and of the digital age in other words, then it stands to reason that she would be familiar with the ARG/Mockumentary approach to storytelling.

    It might even be possible to take this idea a step further, and posit that Edie has even used her “Ink Black Heart” series to play her own Alternate Reality Games with her readers, prior to the events of the novel. If this is the case, then let’s go further up and in. What if it’s possible that before her removal from the stage that Edie leaves one more ARG for either fans, loved ones, or else just any good gumshoe like Strike or Robin to find? In order to solve the mystery of her death, Edie would force “Artegall and Britomart” into becoming not just ARG readers, but also “players”, or characters in her final Alternate Reality Game. One designed to allow Strike to be the Knight of Justice once more.

    This approach might also help support the idea of Shakespeare’s sonnets, or maybe quotes from his plays being the next chosen book epigraphs. Especially if the novel plays into the quote which goes: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. It would be one heck of a way for Rowling to introduce new readers to not just the Bard, but also to the philosophy behind “the Seven Ages of Man”. The game’s afoot, indeed!

    Well, at least there’s one theory anyway. Flip a coin, see where it lands, etc. Just one other possibility to help explain why Rowling might have turned her hand to the Mockumentary approach. Either way, I kind of hope she does more with this.

  11. Just recalled one last thing that might help explain Rowling’s sudden turn to ARG framing for her story. Turns out Agatha Christie, one of her favorite Mystery authors, did the same sort of thing a while back. To be exact, the Christie Estate commissioned an online ARG based around one of Christie’s original literary works. It was a short story called “The Coming of Mr. Quin”, and it was turned into a phone app called, simply, “Mr. Quin.

    Here’s how the Christie Estate Press release described the game:

    Introducing Mr Quin, the first digital drama of its kind and the first contemporary adaptation featuring two of Agatha Christie’s favourite characters, Quin and Satterthwaite.

    The Mr Quin app is experienced as a fast paced multimedia steam with social functionality that allows viewers to share and comment on the content. The production has been shot entirely on iPhones and GoPros, often filmed by the cast themselves.

    The pilot episode, Love & Death, is based on the first story in The Mysterious Mr Quin short story collection, The Coming of Mr Quin. Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones, Aquarius) plays Mr Satterthwaite, a special guest at an exclusive party where a group of young social figures have gathered for the first time since their mutual friend’s mysterious suicide. The action takes place throughout the party where the celebratory mood quickly shifts to one of suspense and intrigue as the truth of past events begins to catch up with them.

    Join Mr Satterthwaite as he live blogs from the party and watch the mystery unfold and the lies unravel (web)”.

    https://www.agathachristie.com/news/2015/brand-new-digital-storytelling-app

    A trailer for the ARG can also be found here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB4p03yGwJU

    Like I say, the Alternate Reality Game is really just a question of narrative technique, rather than being any particular story. What’s notable about the “Mr. Quin” ARG is that it was released (and then vanished off the map) back in 2015, the year “Mr. Galbraith” gave us “Career of Evil” (great soundtrack, so-so story). Here’s the possible thing. If Rowling is as big a Christie fan girl as she claims, then it stands to reason she might be the type of reader who makes frequent trips to the official Agatha Christie home site in the hopes of reading about new developments, such as the new “Harley Quin” multimedia story.

    If there’s any truth to this surmise, then part of Rowling’s inspiration to create “real accounts” for her fictional characters could stem once more (in an ironic sense) from the Queen of Crime. I also just remembered something else, another ARG known as “Hunt a Killer”. That’s where the audience is given the files of a made up mystery drama, and they then have to play detective in order to solve the crime. I would still like to see if Rowling can pull this type of narrative device off for one of her own stories. These IBH promotions seem like a testing of the waters deal; the writer dipping her toes into the shallow end to see what happens. If she ever decides to go further in this direction, then I have one idea.

    Is it at all possible for her to create a story which isn’t just an entertaining interactive read, but can also act as an online crash course education in the same Hermetic Liberal Arts that helps her pilot all of her work on Denmark Street? Is it possible to create a Strike ARG that can help get her audience interested in the themes and ideas of Spenser, Ibsen, Virgil, Boethius, and all of her other sources? Can you tell a story that acts as the sort of education that sneaks up on the reader, so that they don’t mind afterwards?

  12. Nick, Mr. Granger,

    Another possible surface narrative, mythological thematic clue spotted.

    The “official twitter account” for the Strike Agency lists a retweet from the National Portrait Gallery, celebrating the life and achievements of Sportsmen and Boxing Legend, Muhammad Ali:

    https://twitter.com/NPGLondon/status/1543172848784654337?cxt=HHwWgoCy7fThueoqAAAA

    This simple “Like” might, in fact, be a further clue to certain aspects of the upcoming novel. To start at the Surface Level, it won’t really count as much of a surprise if readers go on to learn that a boxer like Ali is maybe one of Strike’s personal heroes. Perhaps “Mystic Bob” will admit to Robin that MA was like his inspiration to become so good at the sport in the first place. This is just a surface character note.

    On a more thematic level, just the “Agency” retweet alone could be the author’s way of signaling a vital, symbolic, or metaphorical clue to her audience. This could be Rowling’s way of drawing the careful reader’s attention to the Gemini aspect of Strike’s character. As noted on this site before, one of the important character notes for Rowling’s one-legged gumshoe is that his part of his overall personality and arc is drawn from the myth of Castor and Pollux. By highlighting the “Thunder Fist” facet of Strike’s life, this could be a hint that, coupled with the promise of an upcoming Papa Rock tell-all book, readers should be on the lookout for incoming, familiar motifs. Expect for mythological callbacks to Pollux, Castor, Leda, and Zeus to start being brought back to the forefront in some manner, once more.

    On a final look at the Surface Level, again. The retweet of Ali, along with shift of “demographic focus” for this next case, makes me wonder if this is also a tip off that a plot development for “Ink Black Heart” will involve Corin, I mean Cormoran, deciding to step back into the ring once more, if only to get himself in shape for any potential final match-up against Anodos/Anomie. I don’t think we should go looking for any Reichenbach Falls moment. Instead, maybe the fresh faces of this case will put Strike in mind of the tussle he had with Jimmy Knight, and this makes him decide to get a bit more back in shape. In turn, this could explain the ashtray tweet. If Strike decides to take up boxing again in Book 6, then Pat’s post about the boss possibly quitting smoking (I’ll write it on ice) might make a bit more sense.

  13. Nick Jeffery says

    Thank you Chris! Another strange interaction occurred yesterday. The Anomie account posted a portrait of the American poet and author Mary Mapes Dodge:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mapes_Dodge?wprov=sfla1
    When I identified the portrait the account deleted the tweet. As no evidence remains on twitter, I will post a screenshot in the article above.

  14. Nick,

    Thanks for the heads up, and interesting development.

    It’s interesting to for me to learn that M.M. Dodge has been drawn into things, in some fashion. I was already familiar with her thanks to the efforts of one of the Inklings, no less. Her name flits in and out of all the literary criticism of Roger Lancelyn Green, a writer who has always gone under the radar as an unacknowledged advocate of Mythopoeia. The best way to describe him is as the untapped root source for further, and perhaps final insights into the thought of Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams. In particular, Green’s work does a good job of marking out his fellow Inklings (himself included) as fundamentally inheritors of both the Romantics, and the Victorian Children’s writers. It’s because of Green’s work that it’s best to think of all the big names associated with all the Children’s novels of the 19th century by a collective group name: the Victorian Romantics.

    Writers like Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, E. Nesbit, Kipling, and Mark Twain were all inheritors of Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Blake. The Inklings, in turn, inherited the same literary traditions from their Victorian predecessors in a descending, generational game of pass-it-on. Believe it or not, it is precisely at this point that Dodge’s effort come into the picture. She’s mostly remembered today (if at all) for a book called “Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates”. However, Green argues that her greatest achievement stemmed from her capacities as editor and facilitator, much in the vein of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Dodge was the one who started a publication known as St. Nicholas Magazine. It was the first periodical geared toward children, their tastes, and wants.

    It was also the magazine that first brought writers like France Hodgson Burnett, Nesbit’s fairy stories, Kipling’s “Mowgli Series”, L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz, and Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to a wide and appreciative audience child readers. In a sense, it could be argued that Dodge taught an entire generation to let their imaginations misbehave, and paradoxically discover the Moral Sublime. This then, is what the Inklings argue is her greatest accomplishment, and its a shame she is so little known today.

    So much for the context of Rowling’s tweet. What we’re left with now is a series of Ink Black Heart related questions:

    1. What was her overall purpose of calling attention to Dodge in the first place?

    2. What does an obscure children’s magazine editor have to do with the plot of Strike 6?

    3. What does Rowling mean by calling Mary a “Sister from Another Mister (at) Highgate Cemetery”? For the record, Mary Dodge passed away somewhere in Boiceville, NY. That means she would have received an American burial. There’s no way she could have wound up at Highgate. Does this mean JK has discovered an ancestor of Dodge there? If so, what kind of purpose does he or his famous descendant have to do with Anomie?

    I just know I wish I had the answers. What i am willing to wonder about now is if Rowling is at all familiar with Roger L. Green’s work. I ask because it is one avenue which would easily explain how she found out about Mary Mapes Dodge. Very interesting.

  15. Prof. Beatrice Groves,

    One of the faux twitter accounts listed in the article above just retweeted a snapshot displaying a poem, “A Bird Came Down the Walk”, by Emily Dickinson. Since you are the undisputed expert at examining the context and content of Rowling’s literary sources and borrowings, I thought it best to alert you to this latest development. As I can’t help believe this is the author herself (directly or otherwise) signaling to readers that the content of Dickinson’s poem is meant to play at least some narrative/thematic role in “The Ink Black Heart”.

    https://twitter.com/AnomieInkBlack/status/1558947648241008641?cxt=HHwWgoCwzYuov6IrAAAA

    Your thoughts, if any?

  16. Nick, Mr. Granger, Prof. Groves,

    I think I might have figured out why Rowling tweeted an image of Mary Mapes Dodge. For one “possible” answer, see “Marketing Emily Dickinson as a Children’s Poet”, by Erin Blakemore.

    https://daily.jstor.org/marketing-emily-dickinson-as-a-childrens-poet/

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