The “5-6 Flip” Idea, Part 1: Was Troubled Blood Originally Meant as the Sixth Book of the Strike series?

I am typically a lot less interested in Rowling’s tweets than some of my Hogpro colleagues are, with the notable exception of when she drops hints (title reveals, header photo clues, etc.) about upcoming books.  Thus, I paid relatively little attention to the January 2020 tweet from Marilyn Manson thanking Rowling for a gift of roses.  It was only when speculation of what the floral gift might mean for the plot of Book Five of the series began that I took note. Would Marilyn Manson lyrics take the place of the Blue Oyster Cult epigraphs in Career of Evil, as ring structure would predict?  When Manson did not appear in Troubled Blood, I speculated that the roses might have been an apology for Rowling’s change of plans–namely, backing off from using Manson’s music for the series because of the allegations of sexual misconduct filed against him in 2018.

The thing is, Marilyn Manson doesn’t seem to fit into the existing plot of Troubled Blood; he’s too recent to have been a favorite of Margot’s and there aren’t any characters who seem to be the right age or temperament to be fans of his. The logical choice to be a Manson fan is Jeff Whitaker, who was all but absent from TB, despite the fact that, per ring composition, a character who was prominent in Book 3 is a good candidate to appear in Book 5.

This led me to think—  what if there was, originally, a very different Book 5 planned?   There is certainly room for one, with a year-long gap between the end of Lethal White and the start of Troubled Blood. This theoretical missing book could have had much more explicit parallels to Career of Evil. Marilyn Manson epigraphs would lead nicely to Jeff Whittaker and his fondness for Anton LeVay and Satanic rock music, which could, in turn, usher in some of the elements I originally predicted for Book Five:  a Whittaker-Strike rematch, the arrival of young Switch LeVay Bloom Whittaker (who is important enough to the series that the TV production shoe-horned in a mention of him) and possibly the murder of Stephanie, as foretold by Robin’s CoE nightmare. According to this mode;, which I am calling the 5-6 Flip Idea, the original Book 5 plans were shelved or delayed, possibly because of the allegations against Manson. Troubled Blood then took its place as the 5th book and was redeveloped to be the nigredo, rather than albedo, of the series.

Serious Strikers were expecting Book 5 to have parallels to both Career of Evil and Order of the Phoenix, and of course, we found plenty. But, if Troubled Blood was originally intended as Book Six, there should be hints of the original plan left. Just as Strike detected the ghost of a good detective peeking through the scrambled writings of Bill Talbot’s notebook, Serious Strikers ought to be able to discern the remnants of Book Six elements: parallels to The Silkworm and Half-Blood Prince, and albedo features, in the Book Five version of Troubled Blood. I invite HogPro readers to join me in that thought experiment after the jump.

Wipe the idea of Troubled Blood as Book Five from your mind and imagine you are encountering it for the first time as Book Six.  There are three things we should be looking for: echoes to The Silkworm and Half-Blood Prince, and albedo imagery. I will address each in turn.

Parallels to The Silkworm

1.Clues in a book:  This is the most obvious connection I can see:  Bill Talbot’s “True Book” as a counterpart to the Bombyx Mori manuscript.  In both cases, our heroes have to discern what was going through the head of a disturbed, and likely completely deranged, author by examining the writings and gleaning essential clues to solve the mystery.

2. Extreme, real-life weather events as a historical backdrop:  The record snowstorms of Winter 2010, and the Cornwall floods of 2014, were not just background, but actively incorporated into the plot, as our heroes had to make risky journeys through them. Both weather events actually happened. Enough said.

3. Missing person or murder?  Owen Quine’s case starts out as a missing person and winds up a murder. Our heroes take on the Margot Bamborough case not knowing if it is a missing person or murder situation; it turns out to be the latter.

4. Brother Al: Al Rokeby’s two appearances are in The Silkworm and Troubled Blood. Both meetings are connected to Strike rejecting his position as Rokeby’s son. In The Silkworm, Strike hopes Rokeby will leave him out of the proposed autobiography; in Troubled Blood, he wants nothing more than to be left out of the anniversary party and family portrait.

5. Polworth, Cornwall visits and Joan:  Strike has a lengthy phone call with Joan in The Silkworm and agrees to go to St. Mawes for Christmas for the first time in years. He is preparing to depart at the end of the book.  Troubled Blood opens with Strike in St. Mawes after Joan’s diagnosis; her illness pushes him to have the longest and most serious conversations he has ever had with her. Cornish friend Dave Polworth is an important ally in both books and gets wet while providing essential help. In The Silkworm he dives for Liz Tassel’s typewriter; in Troubled Blood he braves the rain and floods to help the Nancarrows and to deliver Strike and Lucy to Joan’s deathbed.

6. No more f*cking flowers!:  In The Silkworm: Robin’s birthday comes up for the first time, and Strike realizes he has missed it.

“No, it’s gone. October the ninth. It’s all right, it was a Saturday,” she said, still smiling at his pained expression. “I wasn’t sitting here all day expecting flowers.”

At the end, he manages to choose a Christmas gift, unique to her, that she loves: a surveillance course:

She laughed, delighted. “Thank you. Thank you!

“Most women would’ve expected flowers.”

“I’m not most women.”

Three years later, in Troubled Blood, Strike again forgets her birthday and, as it turns out, she is sitting around all day expecting him to remember.  Worse, after three years. she is hoping for a more individualized present from him, but is disappointed, not just with the last-minute flowers but with the fact that he inadvertently selected stargazer lilies that reminded her of Sarah Shadlock.  Cormoran also strikes out with his Christmas gift, choosing equally impersonal chocolates as a flower-substitute.

7. What does it mean to be partners? Robin has her first real blow-up at Strike on the way back from the Daniel Chard meeting, feeling unappreciated and disappointed that Strike is not taking her detective ambitions more seriously. She worries that he wants to recruit a detective partner with more experience than her. They talk seriously about the expectations of being a full-time partner: including long, unpredictable hours, the risks she will have to take and the fact that Matthew hates her doing it.  In Troubled Blood, Robin recalls this specific conversation as she is redoubling her efforts and working multiple days without breaks.  Even though Matthew is no longer an obstacle, she worries that the male subcontractors think themselves more qualified for her position. And, Robin’s arguments with Strike in Troubled Blood relate, first, to his lack of appreciation for her work and, second, to his unwillingness to let her take risks.

8. Inmate visit:  Strike visits Leonora Quine in jail, and Dennis Creed in Broadmoor. These are, so far, his only visits to correctional facilities.

9. Strike’s birthday: Thoughtful Robin takes Strike to a pub for his birthday in both books; her gifts to him are personal and related to his Cornish home: a basket of food in The Silkworm, a St. Mawes watercolor card in Troubled Blood. In The Silkworm, Strike also has dinner at Lucy’s for his birthday, and his friends Nick and Ilsa attend. In Troubled Blood, Strike is alone the night of his birthday, having told Lucy he was going to Nick and Ilsa’s, and Nick and Ilsa that he was going to Lucy’s. Nick gives Strike a bottle of his favorite whiskey for his birthday in The Silkworm. It is certainly not the same bottle that Strike drinks with Robin in Troubled Blood–he opened that one the next day during his police interview–but it is likely the same brand.

10. Christmas gifts:  The Silkworm and Troubled Blood are the only books where Christmas is celebrated. Strike buys his three nephews identical combat-related gifts in both.

11. Charlotte’s texts and photos:  In The Silkworm, Charlotte texts Strike in hopes he’ll swoop in and stop her wedding, then sends him a picture of herself, stricken and haunted, in her wedding gown, which he deletes. In Troubled Blood, she sends Strike a naked selfie, which he deletes, and later texts him her disappointment that he did not swoop in and stop her wedding. Charlotte announces her marriage to Ross by text in The Silkworm, and her separation in Troubled Blood.

12. Sarah pursues Matthew: This is perhaps a bit too obvious, since Robin-Matthew conflicts are central to all books, and Sarah, whose attraction for Matthew is clear, is an obvious root cause.  Still, the Flowerbomb Floozie is mentioned by name for the first time in The Silkworm, and the first we hear of her is as a potential home-wrecker, whom Robin resists inviting to the wedding:

“After all the bloody fuss we had when I wanted to invite Sarah Shadlock,” Matthew had said—a blow, Robin felt, that was below the belt.

“Invite her then!” she said angrily. “But it’s hardly the same thing—Cormoran’s never tried to get me into bed—what’s that snort supposed to mean?”

It means Matthew is a lying, hypocritical Flobberworm, but I digress. Ms. Shadlock finally finishes her “long game” and sinks her hooks into Mr. Cunliffe, permanently, through pregnancy, in Troubled Blood.

Well, I hit the magic number of 12, like the uses of dragon’s blood.  Has anyone spied others?

Parallels to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

1. Asteroid Passing Through the House of Obvious:  Both titles contain the word “Blood.”

2. Books again: Under this model, Talbot’s True Book takes the place of Harry’s marked-up potions text. Both books have old, extensive, hand-written lines that must be deciphered. Both suggest decidedly non-conventional approaches to problem-solving that are ridiculed by people who prefer a more traditional approach. Both books have people suggesting that reading them may be misguided, or even dangerous. Harry is accused of becoming obsessed or overly committed to the Prince’s writings. Both Strike and Robin, at different times, become fixated on Talbot’s book, carrying it around with them and spending hours trying to decipher it.

3. Fake holiday romance: Hermione invites slimy Cormac McLaggen to Slughorn’s Christmas party to save face after Ron takes up with Lavender, and in hopes of making him jealous. She winds up regretting that she encouraged Cormac’s interest when he proves himself “not a gentleman”–children’s book-speak for sexually aggressive–at the party.  Robin has a lengthy text exchange with slimy Saul Morris on Boxing Day to save face after Matthew takes up with Sarah, and winds up regretting that she encouraged his interest, after she receives his dick-pic. This texted conversation has the unintended effect of making Strike jealous, when he learns Robin told Morris, but not him, of Matthew and Sarah’s official coupling. McLaggen’s know-it-all nature and his eventual screw-up and unceremonious sacking from the Quidditch team after knocking out the captain make him a good analog for Morris in other ways.

4. Death and a funeral:  Under the “5-6 Flip” model, Joan’s death is not an echo of Sirius Black’s, but of Dumbledore’s. At first glance, it seems like Ted would be a better substitute for Dumbledore than Joan, but the surrogate parent part works for both. Both Dumbledore and Joan had elaborate and well-attended funerals, while Sirius did not. Both had their unconventional wishes for a final resting place carried out; Dumbledore became the first Headmaster buried at Hogwarts while Joan got her preferred burial at sea, over the traditional grave that Lucy wanted for her. Both had their earthly remains enclosed in a special white container: Dumbledore’s white marble tomb, Joan’s white lily urn. A still wilder speculation: It is also possible that the original plan was for Ted to die, rather than Joan. This would fit will his funeral being foreshadowed on the Barrow-in-Furness trip in Career of Evil.

5. Psychopathic serial killers who collect trophies: We delve into Voldemort’s psychology in Half-Blood Prince, and learn he is a pure psychopath, without empathy, remorse or true affection for anyone,  just like Creed and Janice. All three kill multiple victims over an extended period, and all three collect souvenirs of their murders: Voldemort his Horcruxes, Creed body parts and jewelry, Janice photos and obituaries.

6. Memory-gathering. Readers learn Dennis Creed’s history  in a series of gradual revelations, as Robin and Strike read The Demon of Paradise Park, and collect other bits of information that others, like Brian Tucker and the Broadmoor doctors, had spent years gathering. This is not unlike Harry’s journey through Tom Riddle’s history by the Pensieve-viewing of the extensive memories Dumbledore has collected Much of Robin and Strike’s investigation of the 40-year-old Bamborough mystery involves collecting memories from people, often elderly, who knew her. Dumbledore sought out the aged Hokey and Morfin before their deaths, to collect their memories of Tom Riddle.

7. Douthwaite-Slughorn echoes: Steven Douthwaite and Horace Slughorn are both charismatic but cowardly figures who tried to re-write their pasts, Douthwaite through name changes, Slughorn through memory tampering. Both have to be strong-armed into sharing their guilty secrets. Had they owned up earlier, the villain might have been stopped sooner and deaths prevented.

8. The sea, the countryside and childhood excursions: The ocean is an important setting in Troubled Blood. Strike’s connection to it from his childhood with Ted and Joan, and Robin’s memories of seaside vacations with her family are important to the development of both characters. Harry Potter, as a series, is remarkably land-locked, but Dumbledore and Harry make a rare trip to a sea cave in the Half-Blood Prince. The only time young Tom  Riddle and friends escaped the bleak urban orphanage was when they were taken to the country or the seashore for annual summer outings. The countryside was where Riddle learned he could speak Parseltongue, and the sea cave became the eventual hiding place for one of his horcruxes. Brian Tucker’s second guess for Creed’s body-stashing spot was the Great Church Wood, the only place Creed ever saw countryside as a child, when he was taken to his great-grandmother’s house.

9. Black eyes and bonked heads:  The twin’s joke telescope accidentally blacks Hermione’s eye, while McLaggen’s bludger gives Harry a cracked skull. Strike’s elbow accidentally blacks Robin’s eyes and nearly concusses her when he elbows her in the forehead. His guilt and regret remind us of Harry’s remorse for using Sectumsempra on Draco.

10. Scent of a woman: Slughorn’s amortentia potion smells to Harry like “something flowery he thought he might have smelled in the Burrow,” aka, Ginny. Strike is particularly aware of how Robin smells in Troubled Blood, and, at the end, selects a perfume for her that smells of “bruised flowers” and “musky skin.” I think it is clear where both of these plots are going.

11. Poisons sneaked in as presents: Malfoy tries to do in Dumbledore by sending him a cursed necklace and poisoned mead, the latter as a Christmas present. Janice Beattie sends poisonous gifts to a number of her victims, including chocolates to Margot and to the agency, the latter as a Christmas present.

12. Anticipating a wedding, with best friends:  At the end of Half-Blood Prince, Harry has made the decision to leave Hogwarts and hunt horcruxes, and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, insist they will go with him. But, Ron reminds him of something else, first.

“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron. “But mate, you’re going to have to come round my mum and dad’s house before we do anything else, even Godric’s Hollow.”

“Why?”

“Bill and Fleur’s wedding, remember?”

Harry looked at him, startled; the idea that anything as normal as a wedding could still exist seemed incredible and yet wonderful.

Headmaster John’s post about the Ritz excursion argues that Strike’s thoughtfully planned gift for Robin’s 30th was “coded language” for the initiation of their romance, with the donkey-balloon as the first date, the perfume the proposal and engagement and the champagne at the Ritz as the marriage.  If so, Robin and Cormoran also end their book anticipating  a wedding, and celebrating being “best friends” at the perfume counter. This doesn’t mean smooth sailing for them going forward, as the closing lines of Half-Blood Prince remind us:

In spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.

Another even dozen!

Alchemical Albedo

This is likely the most challenging section, given that Headmaster John has already laid out a convincing case for Troubled Blood as Strike’s nigredo:  See here, and here for starters, but most of John’s Troubled Blood posts make this case. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of Troubled Blood that seem well-suited to a story originally conceived as albedo.

1.Water and Pearls: Even while laying out the case for nigredo, John also acknowledges that water— and there is lots of water in Troubled Blood–is more typical of albedo:

The alchemical nigredo or ‘black stage’ is typically one of heat or ‘burning up;’ the subject is reduced to its prime matter or essence after all the surface dross and accidents have been incinerated. The consequent ‘white stage, the albedo, in contrast, is ablutionary and purifying; it is usually depicted in story via images of white nobility and perfection (pearls, swans, the moon) and of water, lots of water. The search in Troubled Blood is for a pearl — ‘Margot’ is an anglican form of ‘Margaret,’ the name derived from the Greek word for ‘pearl’ — and the story is told in a literal flood of water images, meteorological certainly in the storms of the night Margot disappeared to the downpours that cut off Cornwall from England, but astrological as well.

It is not the series albedo, however, but its nigredo despite these second stage markers because the water images are less about the purification of the subject than his psychological dissolution. Water and the ‘liquid spirits’ almost every character drinks to good effect in the long novel serves as the alchemical ‘universal solvent’ that unbinds Strike and company from both their inhibitions but their restrictive and protective personae and misconceptions as well.

While Rowling certainly uses water as an effective dissolving nigredo agent, it would also be reasonable for her to have originally planned the rather soggy nature of this novel as an albedo element, just as, I have argued, the snow of The Silkworm indicated reverse-albedo for Robin.  In addition, why would Rowling, who chooses her names carefully and, as Hermione, Rose and Ronald Bilius Weasley could tell you, with a mind to alchemy, call the murder victim of her nigredo story “Pearl?”  Wouldn’t that name work better for the albedo? It’s not like there’s a shortage of names that mean “black” or “dark”:  Carey and Darcy come to mind.

2. Swans, queens, moons and other white things: Swans, such a recurring motif in Lethal White, turn up in the form of kissing towels at the Skegness inn. Perhaps more notably, Strike and Robin, at the end, are heading for the Ritz, where there is a noted mural of Leda and the Swan. At Cynthia Phipps’ first appearance, she is literally dressed as a queen. The moon is mentioned frequently, often in the context of astrology or tarot, but also on the cupola of the Liberty perfume room. There seem to be a lot of important white objects, particularly towards the later half of the book, from Joan’s white lily urn bobbing away on the sea, to the “White 74!” caller in Skegness’s Funland to the white Narciso perfume bottle that is Robin’s birthday present.

3. Broken or purified? There is no doubt Strike is broken down over the course of Troubled Blood.  Mid-February is particularly difficult, with the news of Joan’s imminent death, the stress of figuring out how to get to her in the flood, the intrusive phone call from Rokeby, the loss of his good friends’ baby and the threat to their marriage, the dinner party from hell and Robin justifiably ripping him a new one for the hell he brought to the dinner party from hell. Readers are honestly wondering how much more the poor guy can take.

But, by book’s end, he is doing much better, and certainly acting like a better person. He’s being polite to Pat. He opens up to Robin about his troubles and stresses. He accepts that she needs to take risks in the job and was right to approach Mucky Ricci. He’s being thoughtful about selecting gifts for her. He’s even bursting out into song on occasions. If you compare Strike’s overall emotional state at the end of Troubled Blood to Harry’s at the end of Order of the Phoenix, there’s really no equivalence. Recall Harry’s misery on his trip home from Hogwarts:

Harry was surprised to find that this information did not hurt at all. Wanting to impress Cho seemed to belong to a past that was no longer quite connected with him. So much of what he had wanted before Sirius’s death felt that way these days. . . . The week that had elapsed since he had last seen Sirius seemed to have lasted much, much longer: It stretched across two universes, the one with Sirius in it, and the one without…

As the train slowed down in the approach to King’s Cross, Harry thought he had never wanted to leave it less. He even wondered fleetingly what would happen if he simply refused to get off, but remained stubbornly sitting there until the first of September, when it would take him back to Hogwarts…

“Ron, Ginny!” called Mrs. Weasley, hurrying forward and hugging her children tightly. “Oh, and Harry dear — how are you?”

“Fine,” lied Harry, as she pulled him into a tight embrace.

The support of his Order friends does bring a smile to his face as he walks away with the Dursleys, but only because his allies are promising to get him away from his bleak existence as soon as possible. Strike, in contrast, ends Troubled Blood smiling to himself and walking away with Robin into the “golden glow” of the evening. He is perfectly happy and exactly where he wants to be. Cormoran’s transformation is indicative of someone who is not just ready for a purification process, but well into it, closer to the place you would expect him at the end of an albedo than a nigredo phase.

So, what of The Ink Black Heart? 

So, if Troubled Blood is Book 6-turned-5, could The Ink Black Heart be Book 5-turned-6? Given that it isn’t yet published, the guesswork is a bit trickier, but I’ll take a look at what we do know, and make some even wilder speculations in Part 2 of this post.

Comments

  1. I’m convinced!

    This 5-6 Flip idea is a radical piece of Reverse Prognostication. ‘Ink Black Heart’ will, assuming that Rowling will not affirm or deny the theory, be our best source of evidence for and against Strike5 having been planned originally as Strike6. Certainly the ‘black’ in ‘Ink Black Heart’ suggests it was the original nigredo piece in the series. I’m looking forward to your post about what we should look for in ‘Ink’ to judge whether it was originally conceived as the nigredo vs the albedo novel.

    I hope, too, that we can discuss the shape of the Strike series. The Hogwarts Saga turned out to be an asterisk rather than a turtle-back ring structure because of the 1-5 and 3-7 book correspondences. Will the first seven book ring of Strike novels be an asterisk as well, with 2-5 and 3-6 crossing the 1-4-7 story axis with an X?

    Again, brilliant post, Professor Freeman! I look forward to discussing this 5-6 Flip idea in the run-up to and the discussion of ‘Ink Black Heart’ — and to celebrating your literary detective work when The Presence confirms you were right, even if only in her memoire!

  2. Rebecca N says

    Very solid theory!

    I expected Troubled Blood to have the heaviness of The Order of the Phoenix and while there are very sad parts, it didn’t to me.

    I guess we’ll see what The Ink Black Heart is like!

  3. Louise Freeman says

    What’s interesting is, in TB we had two very different kinds of killers. The woman-hating, sadistic serial killer (like Laing) in Creed and the woman-no-one-would-suspect (like “blameless spinster” Liz Tassel) in Nurse Janice (though she differed from Liz in her multiple victims and long history of murder, albeit well-concealed. So, again, pointers to both CoE and SW.

    If “Anomie” turns out to be the killer (likely but not a given) , I think their identity (“blacktip shark” versus “deviant with criminal history” will tell us whether IBH was originally intended as #5 nigredo or #6 albedo.

  4. Louise Freeman says

    Another SW-TB echo: pearl-names and evoking Russian literature at a birthday celebration. Strike’s would be birthday present from Lucy, Marguerite (echoes Margot), adores the Russians and compares Fancourt to Dostoyevsky; Dave Polworth (of all people), over a birthday drink, insists his entire attitude was changed by a chance recommendation of Tolstoy.

  5. Another one, or has this been mentioned this before? With your idea in mind I couldn’t help noticing (I’ve reached Silkworm in my pre-Ink Black Heart reread) that it mentions floods in Cornwall! Strike is worried for Ted & Joan and rings them up. This early needless worry and then the epic Cornish floods of TB certainly felt like an early parallel seeded when TB was planned as Strike 6….

  6. Louise Freeman says

    I remembered the phone call but forgot the floods. Great catch!

    Another link is a brunette client who actively pursues Strike: the emerald necklace ladt in SW, Miss Jones in TB.

  7. Louise Freeman says

    And still another (I’m re-reading The Silkworm now so finding lots):

    At Strike’s birthday party in SW, the oldest and youngest nephews are interested in the cake but ignore Strike. Jack, in contrast, “makes a beeline” for Strike and gives him a homemade card. When Strike leaves St. Mawes at the start of TB, Jack alone leaves his Coco Pops to say a proper good-bye to Strike; the other two stay in the kitchen eating.

  8. Louise Freeman says

    Another similarity: Michael Fancourt’s attitude towards women is only marginally better than Carl Oakden’s. Both disparage “courtly love” and seem to think the world would be better off if women would just content themselves to sexually satisfying men and having babies.

    Fancourt: We are mammals who need sex, need companionship, who seek the protective enclave of the family for reasons of survival and reproduction. We select a so-called loved one for the most primitive reasons…And so I tell myself that one woman is more fascinating, more attuned to my needs and desires, than another. I am a complex, highly evolved and imaginative creature who feels compelled to justify a choice made on the crudest grounds. This is the truth that we’ve buried under a thousand years of courtly bullshit.

    Oakden: You’ve got the pill: consequence-free fucking. Looks like it benefits the male, but by enabling women to avoid or subvert the reproductive function, you’re repressing natural and healthy patterns of sex behavior….Playboy Club, that’s all bullshit. Look, but don’t touch. It’s the old courtly love lie.

  9. Hello, Louise!

    I add here the parallel of the defecating dobermans in Silkworm and Troubled Blood.

  10. Robyn Matthews says

    Another more obscure parallel between Troubled blood and The Silkworm is that Margot Fonteyn lived at Talgarth Road, the location of Owen Quine’s murder. Coincidentally on the morning of the first interview between Irene Hickson, Janice Beattie, Cormoran and Robin, Irene’s Margot Fonteyn figurine shattered while Irene dusted it.

  11. Louise Freeman says

    Wow, that is a great catch! Thanks!

  12. Michael Brett Fish says

    I have to come out of academic retirement long enough to say that this is brilliant work.

    I remember a distinct feeling while reading TB that I had a HBP-esque novel where I’d been expecting a OOTP. You and others have nailed the particular details— so I’ll follow up with something more aesthetic— the reading experience of TB was much more closely aligned to my experience with HBP. We are investigating the mind of a killer by looking at the past, and I won’t discount the connection between the Occult and Trelawney’s Divination.

    And as other scholars have pointed out:

    Chamber and Half-Blood are INTERNAL works while POA / OOTP are EXTERNAL

    Career was EXTERNAL. Troubled Blood was INTERNAL. That should tell you the flip is genuine.

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