Title of Cormoran Strike 5 Released; Readers Jump in with Speculation About Its Meaning

Breaking news today that the title of the next Cormoran Strike book will be Troubled Blood.  Your Hogpro faculty were too busy to post on this earlier today, but thankfully some of our Serious Striker readers have already chimed in comments section as to what this might mean.

I’m reprinting a few of the comments here, so discussion  of the title and what it could represent can take place in a centralized location.  Please check all of the comments out, and add your own!  Thanks and a toast of Doom Bar to all who have begun the sleuthing process!

Bonni Crawford made a connection to punk rock lyrics:

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!

It does sound like a song written for the series!  I wonder if there has ever been a connection between this group and Marilyn Manson?

Joanne Gray points to a theme in common with The Silkworm:

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!).

Nick Jeffery quickly made a connection to the poetry of Spenser and Chapman.

This is so very far beyond my competence, I humbly offer for your consideration the following (both I think references to Galen’s humors):

From Spencer’s Faerie Queen, book I canto IX
But when as none of them he saw him take,
He to him raught a Dagger sharp and keen,
And gave it him in hand: his Hand did quake,
And tremble like a Leaf of Aspin green,
And troubled blood through his pale Face was seen
To come and go; with Tydings from the Heart,
As it a running Messenger had been.
At last, resolv’d to work his final Smart,
He lifted up his Hand, that back again did start.
Or possibly George Chapman in Bussy D’Ambois
I long to know
How my dear mistress fares, and be inform’d
What hand she now holds on the troubled blood
Of her incensed lord. Methought the spirit,
When he had utter’d his perplex’d presage,
Threw his chang’d count’nance headlong into clouds:
His forehead bent, as he would hide his face
He knock’d his chin against his darken’d breast,
And struck a churlish silence through his powers.
Terror of darkness! O thou king of flames!
That with thy music-footed horse dost strike
The clear light out of crystal on dark earth;
And hurl’st instinctive fire about the world:
Wake, wake the drowsy and enchanted night
That sleeps with dead eyes in this heavy riddle.
Or thou, great prince of shades, where never sun
Sticks his far-darted beams; whose eyes are made
To see in darkness, and see ever best
Where sense is blindest: open now the heart
Of thy abashed oracle, that, for fear
Of some ill it includes, would fain lie hid:
And rise thou with it in thy greater light.

Chris C. quickly picked up the Chapman mantle after recognizing the name from an earlier book:

I thought I remembered Rowling using quotes from Chapman in “The Silkworm”. I went back to that book and there he was, fresh from obscurity and everything. After typing in Chapman’s name, along with the phrase “Troubled Blood”, a little searching leaves me convinced that it’s indeed Chapman that JKR has referenced by her title.

It turns out Chapman’s play has a lot of relevant material with Rowling’s own protagonist. For instance, here is how Bussy D’Ambois is described by Wikipedia. “(An) unemployed soldier and an accomplished swordsman, is reflecting on the corrupt, avaricious, and violent society in which he lives. In the third line of his opening soliloquy, he expresses the radical view that “Who is not poor, is monstrous.” From there, however, Chapman’s hero finds himself joining forces with the very Ruling Class he condemned, only to rebel and wind up the victim of their revenge.

The main character reads like a crazier version of our peg-legged friend. It is interesting to speculate how D’Ambois’s predicament could be related to Strike’s in “Troubled Blood”. That’s an aspect I’m still not sure of, however. What I did find very interesting, and maybe somewhat rewarding was reading the following, also from Wiki.
“As Chapman’s arguable masterpiece, Bussy D’Ambois has attracted a large body of critical commentary, discussion, and dispute. Scholars have debated Chapman’s philosophical and dramaturgical intentions in the play, and whether and to what degree those intentions are successfully realized.[9] Though no true consensus has been reached, many commentators regard Bussy as Chapman’s idea of a moral hero at war with his own lower tendencies, wrapped in a conflict between his idealistic urges and the sheer power of his personality — a Marlovian hero with more conscience than Marlowe ever gave his own protagonists.

Or at least, that appears to have been Chapman’s intent. Critics have complained at how the moralizing protagonist of the opening scene becomes the ruthless passion-driven anti-hero of the rest of the play. Some have argued that in Bussy D’Ambois Chapman sacrificed logical and philosophical consistency for dramaturgical efficacy, for “force and vehemence of imagination” (to quote Algernon Charles Swinburne). His succeeding French histories are more consistent intellectually, but also far more dull (web)”. The information can all be read here:


I found that connection to Marlowe something of a relief, because it “could” mean my theory of Rokeby as both a sellout (in the thematic vein of “Dr. Faustus) and the series Moriarty still has some wind in its sails, at least until it doesn’t. It also raises the possibility that the same Marlovian tendencies might be a problem Strike has to deal with as well. It could be a very troubling case of like father like son. However beyond that, it also fits in with my theory that Keats will have some thematic role to play in the new book. According to the Poetry Foundation website, “the nineteenth saw a marked revival of interest in Chapman’s works, perhaps best summed up in John Keats’s well-known sonnet “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” (1816)”. The upshot is that I’m willing to add Keats’ “Chapman” poem to the list of possible header quotes we could expect to see in Rowling’s book. The information for that quote can be found at this link:

One final piece of information that I believe is relevant can be found once more in the wiki link above. It has to do with the rest of Chapman’s own creative compost heap. “Along with historical sources on the life of Louis de Bussy d’Amboise, Chapman, like Ben Jonson, makes rich use of classical allusions. Bussy features translated passages from the plays Agamemnon and Hercules Oetaeus of Seneca, plus the Moralia of Plutarch, the Aeneid and Georgics of Virgil, and the Adagia of Erasmus.[7] The characters in the play quote or refer to the Iliad and to works by Empedocles, Themistocles, and Camillus.[8]” Along with the mention of Jonson, the name that really jumped out was that of Virgil and his “Aeneid”. That’s another text informing the nature of the Strike saga. What we are seeing here is a technique Beatrice Groves discussed about at length in “Literary Allusion in Harry Potter”. A series of textual references and allusions are once more brought together by the author under the roof and between the covers of a single text. It remains to see exactly what she’ll do with all this wealth of material. One thing is for sure, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

To be fair though, I wouldn’t have learned about any of this if Nick Jeffery hadn’t sunk the well in the first place. So credit where it’s due. Thanks Nick!

Hmm…  could RG/JKR be breaking the pattern and forging more links between books 2 and 5 than between 3 and 5?  Paging Headmaster Granger…
Personally, I’m a bit disappointed not to find a genetics or other science connection, as in Lethal White, but all of this definitely piques my interest.  Given the overlapping of the white horse motifs in the previous book, it would not surprise me to see both rock lyrics and literary connections to the title of the fifth book in the series.

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