Strike5 To Be All About Marilyn Manson?

Late last week Satanic rocker Marilyn Manson tweeted that J. K. Rowling had sent him a gift:

I think this is a strong pointer to Strike5 having Marilyn Manson song titles and lyrics as its epigraph and story backdrop the way that Blue Oyster Cult lines and themes were so evident in Career of Evil. Here are my three reasons beyond the gift of red roses, which floral present, unlike Manson fans at Metal Head Zone, I do not think suggests a romantic relationship between Rowling and the Rock Star. She’s a Fat Cops fan, remember? My bet is the roses are just a thank you for permission to use his lyrics in her new book.

Three Reasons Strike5 will be a Marilyn Manson Novel:

(1) The Anton LaVey Connection: We learned in Career of Evil that Jeff Whittaker is a rock star wannabe whose favorite album was by the murderer Charles Manson and whose reading materials were largely restricted to Aleister Crowley texts and The Satanic Bible by American organist Anton LaVey. The LaVey connection is a big deal because Whittaker’s son with Leda Strike is named Switch LaVey Bloom Whittaker. We already have a connection with Marilyn Manson in the Charles Manson album (the living Manson’s name is a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson’s names) but with LaVey we get at the heart of Marilyn Manson’s Satanic beliefs. From the rock star’s wikipedia page:

Manson was a friend of Anton LaVey,[126][127] who even inducted him as a minister in the Church of Satan, although Manson downplayed this. When questioned whether he was a minister in the Church of Satan by Bill O’Reilly, Manson responded with “No, not necessarily. That was something earlier. It was a friend of mine who’s now dead, who was a philosopher that I thought I learned a lot from. And that was a title I was given, so a lot of people made a lot out of it. But it’s not a real job, I didn’t get paid for it.”[128]

As a result, he has been described as “the highest profile Satanist ever” with strong anti-Christian views and social Darwinist leanings.[129]However, Manson himself denies this, and stated the following:

I’m not a misanthrope. I’m not a nihilist. I’m not an atheist. I believe in spirituality, but it really has to come from somewhere else. I learned a long time ago, you can’t try to change the world, you can just try to make something in it. I think that’s my spirituality, it’s putting something into the world. If you take all the basic principles of any religion, it’s usually about creation. There’s also destruction, but creation essentially. I was raised Christian. I went to a Christian school, because my parents wanted me to get a better education. But when I got kicked out I was sent to public school, and got beat up more by the public school kids. But then I’d go to my friend’s Passover and have fun.
— Marilyn Manson[130]

Manson is also familiar with the writings of Aleister Crowley and Friedrich Nietzsche. He quotes Crowley throughout his autobiography, including the Thelemic anthem, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”[131] Crowley’s esoteric subject matter forms an important leitmotif in much of Manson’s early work.

(2) The Tattoos! Rowling recently revealed she has a Solve et Coagula tattoo (or had one temporarily; it’s only been spotted at the Ripple of Hope Award dinner). That was discussed here and its supposed relationship with the Baphomet Satanist idol was dismissed as ridiculous here. Turns out Marilyn Manson also has Solve et Coagula tattoos and one of the Baphomet head as well (see above). From the MansonWiki listing of his many tattoos:

Solve Coagula In January 2014, Manson revealed new tattoos that goes from the back edge of his hands to his wrists. The term originates from Solve et Coagula, an alchemy reference. Roughly translated, it means “Dissolve and join together” or transmutation. The tattoo was done at Will Rise Studio in L.A.
Baphomet On Manson’s 21st birthday, band member and friend Gidget Gein took him to Tattoos By Lou in Miami, Florida to get his first tattoo. At this same session, Gein got a Creepy Crawly Spider tattooed on his wrist. Baphomet became known in the nineteenth century when it was applied to pseudo-historical conspiracy theories elaborating on the suppression of the Templars, and it became associated with a “Sabbatic Goat” image drawn by Eliphas Lévi. The tattoo appears on his upper left arm, under The Lucky Devil.
(3) The Crowley Natal Chart Twitter Header: On 25 January in addition to posting two tweets on her long neglected twitter page (well, neglected since 19 December’s Da Tweet explosion) including one announcing that “Galbraith5” was finished, she changed her twitter page header. It’s an astrological natal chart, one belonging to Anton LaVey, Marilyn Manson, and Jeff Whittaker shared influence, Aleister Crowley.

Mix all that together and I think it’s a good bet that Strike5 will be a nightmare trip into the Satanist rock and roll scene via Jeff Whittaker with a soundtrack provided by the recordings of Marilyn Manson. Serious Striker Joanne Gray has written me to suggest the title of Strike5 could be Manson’s heavy metal 2012 album Born Villain. I suspect we’ll know if that is a bullseye prediction by the end of the month, maybe even this week.

Three quick notes:

  • All of the above, all of it, came to my attention — the roses, the tattoos, the natal chart — through the researches and generosity of Nick Jeffery who sent links to each. A hat tip and a big thank you to Nick!
  • Yes, I think we’re going to learn at last in Strike5 who sent the 50 roses to Strike’s office in Career of Evil. No, I don’t think they were for Robin or from Matt Cunliffe. I wonder if Marilyn Manson opened his card? And of course I get that Born Villain or whatever Strike5 is titled if a Manson themed novel is a lock down parallel with Strike3’s Blue Oyster Cult and one more bit of ring evidence that this is a chiastic seven book series.
  • Is Rowling a Satanist? No, she isn’t. Is she going to enjoy writing about the dangers of the real occult, the madness of popularized rock n’ roll nihilism, as a contrast with the risible supposed dangers of her Hogwarts Saga? Yes, I think she is. [Note to the friend who continues to try and post under a variety of identities on various threads here about Rowling the Satanist: get a new IP address for better luck getting past our filters.]
Let me know what you think!


  1. Mr. Granger,

    All in all, I’d have to say, so far, so good. I can’t see much of any real objection to the idea that the nihilist Rock scene will have a part to play in the next book. My only question is to ask what this does to Prof. Freeman’s academic setting theory? If I may make the suggestion, it could make at least a certain sense to view the next novel as one that is always swinging or oscillating between scenes of order and disorder.

    In other words, it could be that what Rowling will do to drive her anti-occult message home is to provide a setting that is at the exact diametric polar opposite to the kind of insane world that Whitaker likes to frequent. What better place could serve as a dynamic contrast of light and dark, than a place like either Oxford, Cambridge (or maybe both if Strike and Robin decide to split their investigation into two halves again, with Strike taking the City of Dreaming Spires and Robin getting to meet Ciara at C.S. Lewis’s second home)? It would make all the thematic sense in the world is she were to use a place like Oxford as a symbol of all that’s ordered in the world as an anti-type to Whitaker’s decadent music world?

    At least, there’s one possibility, anyway.

    The only thing left to add is that while I’m willing to go with the idea that Manson lyrics will play an important thematic role in the next plot, I’m somewhat on the fence of whether they will be used as epitaphs. That’s going to have to be a proof is in the pages deal for me.

  2. Joanne Gray says

    Professor Granger, I do think you’re on the right track about the Marilyn Manson title and chapter epigraphs (fingers crossed for Born Villain).

    It will be interesting to see if the question of “who sent the 50 roses” in Career of Evil to Strike’s office finally answered in Strike 5. It seems by process of elimination, if they weren’t meant for Robin (as you believe) then they must be for Cormoran (!?)

    That does make it a more unexpected development since we assumed–I know I did–that the flowers were certainly meant for Robin. The assumption was never discarded because the card was never read. Would Charlotte have sent them thinking (hoping) that it might stir up jealousy with Robin??

    I had almost forgotten that a long time ago (last year) when JKR was still changing up her Twitter headers more often than she does now; she posted a picture of St. John’s Gate in Clerkenwell. Since the very last location in Lethal White mentioned a possible case Robin wanted to check out in Finsbury Park, I made the connection between the two since Clerkenwell is a sub-district of Finsbury Park. I think there’s a chance that those two locations will figure somewhere in the beginning of Book 5. So glad that 2020 seems to be the year of Strike Book 5 and so many questions will finally (hopefully) be answered.

    I really hope we hear a title soon–and that I made a lucky guess with Born Villain.

  3. Joanne,

    You’re bringing Clerkenwell up again got me thinking about it all over again. The result was going through the site’s wiki page to see if there was anything there that could be relevant at least in some way with Book 5. What I learned was that the Gate itself is in fact part of a former priory, or religious order of St. John. It was disbanded by Henry VIII a long time ago. Since then, it’s been passed around from differing hands. The place now has a museum attached, detailing and archiving all the history that has occurred in and around the place.

    I did manage to find this bit of eye-catching information about the place: “The building has many historical associations, most notably as the original printing-house for Edward Cave’s pioneering monthly, The Gentleman’s Magazine, and sometime workplace of Samuel Johnson. From 1701 to 1709 it was the childhood home of the painter William Hogarth, whose father Richard Hogarth in 1703 opened a coffee house there, known as “Hogarth’s Coffee House”, which offered Latin lessons together with coffee”.,_Clerkenwell

    The real find, however, was the discovery of the Gate’s Shakespeare connection. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Gate and its buildings were turned over to a Mr. Edmund Tilney, who held a post in Her Majesty’s then government known as the Master of the Revels. This meant he was in charge of regulating and overseeing all of the entertainments that were conducted during the Elizabethan period. It also meant that ever theater playhouse in London and its environs was under his ultimate control. Any playwright who wanted to see their productions performed had to run every page, soliloquy, and line of dialogue past Tilney’s desk, which was located at St. John’s Gate.

    One of Tilney’s employees was some guy named Bill, from Stratford, England. In fact, if you go back and watch an old late 90s Tom Stoppard film, “Shakespeare in Love”, you’ll find an obstreperous and annoying little quisling figure named “Mr. Tilney” who keep cropping up every now and then as a kind of minor obstacle for the protagonist. That character is in fact based on the real life person. Edmund and Mr. Tilney are one and the same.

    The potential Rowling connection in all this “may” stem from a censorship problem that the real Shakespeare had to put up with under Tilney’s supervision. In fact, the play “Richard II” could have gotten him in a lot of hot water. It was commissioned by a aristocracy household who held plans to try and overthrow Elizabeth. Lucky for the Bard, all Tilney did was demand that a certain scene or line be struck from the performance, and Shakespeare complied. Still, it incident was a good illustration of the kind of vice grip that the government had on all of England’s artistic productions. The whole affair can be read about here:

    As far as St. John’s Gate, Clerkenwell is concerned, it could be possible that its history of censorship might figure some way, at least in the next novel. It could be that the idea of academic censorship part of the background theme to all the action, similar to how the problems and failings of the aristocracy formed the main satire of both “Goblet of Fire” and “Lethal White”. This idea of St. John’s as a symbol of censorship would make “Strike 5” a perfect tie-in with the basic situation of “Order of the Phoenix”. It could be that the academic setting in which the next investigation takes place will be operating with a similar threat of censorship hanging over its head while Strike is busy clue hunting around the place. This restraining action could be handy for the plot if it impedes Strike’s ability, on occasion, to properly work on the case.

    Now, I haven’t forgotten your idea about the Clerkenwell Syndicate. The good news is there may still be room for it somewhere in all this. I suppose the difference between this take and yours all revolves around the question of which level we as readers are meant to interpret Rowling’s little visual clues. Are they meant to be read on a surface level? Or are they meant to be looked from the symbolic perspective of the higher up tiers? I’m not sure what the answer is, except to say that the way things stand at the moment, theirs is room enough to be valid at this point.

  4. Joanne Gray says


    Some very interesting points–especially the Tilney/Shakespeare St. John’s connection. Although, I really hope we see a renewed connection between Clerkenwell and Harringey–which ties with the Harringey Crime Syndicate mentioned in the third Strike novel, Career of Evil, to provide echoes that we expect to see between Strike 3 and Strike 5.

    Hopefully those echoes will finally move the readers of the series on to some actual pieces necessary to solve the mysteries of Cormoran’s and Leda’s past. A bonus to that is that it will require bringing Shanker back into the story because he played a big part as Leda’s protector when Cormoran went off to University.

    If I remember correctly, JKR said that Al Rokeby will appear in book 5, but not Jonny Rokeby. I’m still not sure that Jonny is Corm’s father–so I wonder if Al appearance might lend itself to providing some way of finally answering that doubt. Perhaps Strike will find himself in need of some medical procedure that requires a good medical match–preferably from a relative? We know that Strike wouldn’t want to tell Lucy but he’d be OK with asking Al. This would finally give us a definitive is he or is he not related to Jonny Rokeby?If he finds out that they aren’t related–despite his apparent indifference to Jonny–it will still impact him–probably more than he believes possible.

    I’m thinking of the 5th book of HP when a hugh secret is revealed between the main character Harry and his nemesis, Voldemort. Granted Jonny Rokeby isn’t like Harry’s nemesis but Jonny is the figure Strike is always tied to in people’s minds.

  5. I still find myself convinced that Rokeby is his dad, however my reasons for it are a bit less literal than usual. My main reason for believing Rokeby is Daddy Dearest has to do with the only scene in which Strike and Rokeby are in a room together. Rokeby’s not there in the (imaginary, and totally unreal) flesh, yet his picture is there, stuffed between two photos of Robert Plant and Duke Ellington. My conviction was and remains that Rowling didn’t just place the character there, even if just as an image. She must have had a reason for showing him in such a way that the surrounding real life musicians were pointers the symbolic importance and literal, surface plot nature of the character.

    It’s a long story, yet my conviction is that a lot of the main ingredients in that scene carry a symbolic import, from the two real records artists, even to the name of the setting in which the encounter takes place, the Albion. The question for me was, is there anything that links the fictional creation to the real singer and songwriter? The missing link in both cases came from Ellington and Plant’s connections to Renaissance themes. In other words, both Plant and Ellington had some knowledge of artistic alchemy.

    Ellington, in particular forms an interesting line of descent all the way back to the play Dr. Faustus. My basic take away from that whole passage and scene setting was that Rowling was tipping the reader off that Rokeby was both a phony or charlatan, and also something of a sellout. In other words, Rokeby was/is a backstabber who is not to be trusted. All of these elements give him the perfect makings for a villain in a crime novel. For what it’s worth, a bit more detail into my thought process can be found here (note: you’ll want to scroll all the way down to the “Examination of a Scene” section in order to get right to the point; you can’t miss it, just scroll down until you come to an old black and white photo of a long-haired, 70s era photo of Robert Plant, just off to the right):

    As for the question of paternity, my reasons for believing that Rokeby and Strike are father and son stems from thematic, rather than surface literal reasons. The crux of the fourth book, “Lethal White” was a conflict between a father and son. Since the fourth book is seen as the turning point of the series, it is not unreasonable to my thinking, again in a thematic sense, that this same conflict will be the determining issue in the final Strike novels.

  6. Bonni Crawford says

    So… Troubled Blood. (

    Those are prominent words in ‘Add Vice’ by Love Me Destroyer:

    Troubled blood, just add vice
    Stand your ground and keep in check
    Sharpened words your wield like knives
    With a target on my back i’ll take it
    I wear the bumps, live through the bruises
    I’ll dodge the shards, slip through your nooses
    Jagged looks from all directions, complete distrust from deadly eyes
    Troubled blood, just add vice
    Stand your ground and keep in check
    Hypocrisy is the new messiah, everyone wants to be a savior
    Celebrate the innocence lost
    A toast to crime, and dance with sin
    Another chance to clip our wings, and burn this night bright

    Many potential links to the strike series there!

    A couple of other song titles in the same album (Black Heart Affair) jump out to me: ‘Scars make good stories’ and ‘My virus’. ‘Beautiful Switchblade Knives’, another song in the album, seems very much the kind of thing that Donnie may have thought in Strike3!

  7. Nick Jeffery says

    Troubled Blood is also the title of a song by Hateful Decay, and also of another by Miss World. Is the phrase a well known popular culture reference? I’m afraid before the title was announced I’d not heard of it.

  8. Nick,
    I’m also not aware that troubled blood is a well-know cultural reference. I’m now actually thinking that maybe the speculation that Marilyn Manson’s songs will furnish the chapter epigraphs for the 5th Strike book in the same manner that Blue Oyster Cult did for the 3td Strike book, ‘Career of Evil’, will not be happening.

    The phrase ‘Troubled Blood’ does show up a couple of times in Jacobean revenge plays–like those used in the epigraphs in ‘The Silkworm.’ But my own thoughts on what the phrase may mean is that it could provide motifs (like the white horse in ‘Lethal White’) to not just the book’s main crime–but also supply the ties (finally) to the mysteries behind Cormoran’s own ‘Troubled blood’–family origins. It could hint that we are about to begin to untangle the hidden threads of his mother’s bohemian past, while consequently, uncovering some unwelcome truths about his own origins. If that proves to be the case with the plot of book 5, then I am even more excited to read it (if that’s possible!).

  9. Louise Freeman says

    Darn, no genetics or other science connection that I can find.

    Bonni, the lyrics and song titles that you posted make me think of both Whittaker and Shanker (scarred, whose name is slang for “stabber” and who we know wields a switchblade). I and re-listening to the series as we speak and noticed that Robin had two nightmares in Career of Evil– one about a small black girl crying for her mother and one of Whittaker’s girlfriend Stephanie being killed. The one about the child came true when Robin visited Alyssa’s house; I think the one about Stephanie will come true in Troubled Blood. That could lead to loads of possibilities: Strike obsessed with proving Whittaker did it, Shaker dying while going after Whittaker, or Whittaker himself being killed and our heroes needing to prove Shanker (or Strike or maybe even Robin?) didn’t do it.
    It would not surprise me that Rowling would use a phrase from both classic poetry and modern punk rock lyrics as a motif in her book– look at the multiple layers of white horses in the last one.

  10. Hi John,

    Just wanted to add something that may or may not mean anything but I was listening to The Silkworm this morning and this caught my attention. In chapter 25, Robin is thinking about the strange letters they received after solving the Lula Landry case and it says, “An anonymous writer of unknown gender had demanded that Strike help them expose a national campaign of satanic abuse which they knew to be operating through the offices of the Citizens Advice Bureau.” The mention of satanic abuse is interesting in how it could possibly be related the Troubled Blood. It would be very much like JKR to insert what seems to be a throwaway line that turns out to be important later on, ie a locket that no one could open.

  11. Beatrice Groves says

    Tempting Lindsay! And she often uses humour (as with the CAB reference here) to deflect attention from such breadcrumbs – remember Hannah Abbott telling everyone that Sirius could transform into a flowering shrub and was getting into Hogwarts that way?

  12. Louise Freeman says

    Lindsay: It would certainly fit in with a Whittaker/Strike rematch, given Stepdaddy Dearest’s fondness for satanism. It could also be a connection to the horrible Norfolk commune where Strike witnessed child abuse at age 8 or so.

Speak Your Mind