Troubled Blood Compilation #5: Flints, Errors and Head-scratchers. Spoiler Alert

When J.K. Rowling kept Marcus Flint around for an 8th year in Hogwarts, the term “flint” was adopted as a word for an error or continuity mistake in the Harry Potter series.  Some, such as James and Lily emerging from Voldy’s Wand in the wrong order, were even corrected in later editions.

The Cormoran Strike series, sadly, is not immune from this tendency. We have, for instance, heard Strike muse about having both eight and seven half-siblings. Ciara Porter of Cuckoo’s Calling mysteriously changed her surname to Parker by Lethal White.  And so on…  

I’m starting this post for readers to make note of any errors they spot when reading and re-reading Troubled Blood.  I’ll start my list after the jump; please be aware there could be spoilers there or in the comments section.

The first one I noted was an apparent disparity in Lucy and Cormoran’s relative ages.  Part one mentions 4 1/2 year old “Cormy*” and “newborn” Lucy being abandoned with Ted and Joan for the first time.  “Newborn” to me, implies a very young baby– a few months old at the most.  Previously, Lucy and Cormoran have been said to be only 2 years apart in age.  British readers:  is it common to refer to a two year old as a “newborn” in the UK?

Here is another head-scratcher:

Breaking into a jog, because she was already five minutes late, she knew she’d just told Strike, for the very first time, that she knew who his father was.

Huh?  Strike saw the Rokeby Wikipedia page open on her computer back when she first started working for him. He heard her say his father’s name at the end of that book:

“Well, that’s very kind of Mr. Rokeby, but Mr. Strike would rather pay. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to clear the full amount within the next few months…”

And, Robin met his brother Al in The Silkworm; surely she learned his last name after he was first on the scene in her potentially deadly car crash?  

In addition, Robin would have learned all about Leda Strike when Whittaker was one of their key murder suspects, and her having Rokeby’s child was front and center of any story about her.  Anyone remember this conversation in Career of Evil?

“Her favorite wasn’t the Deadbeats?” asked Robin, without thinking. Strike’s father was the lead singer of the Deadbeats. They had never discussed him, either. “No,” said Strike, managing a half-smile. “Old Jonny came a poor second with Leda. She wanted Eric Bloom, lead singer of Blue Öyster Cult, but she never got him. One of the very few who got away.”

Does that sound like a guy who thinks his parentage is a secret?

Moreover, Strike’s paternity had been mentioned in the many troublesome newspaper articles that have plagued the agency over the last three years. Is Cormoran supposed to assume that Robin, internet sleuth extraordinaire, has never read any of them, nor heard about Rokeby’s press statement implying he and Strike had a cordial relationship?  Robin herself even showed Strike one of those articles on her cell phone at the end of Lethal White: 

“Were detective services under discussion during the intense heart-to-heart, or something more personal? The colourful Mr Strike, illegitimate son of rock star Jonny Rokeby, war hero and modern-day Sherlock Holmes, also happens to be Campbell’s ex-lover.”

Robin may be considerate enough not to make the Deadbeat Dad a common topic of conversation, but both of them would certainly be aware that she knew. 

One “flint” that JKR/RG may be trying to correct is her knowledge of DNA tests. She explicitly has Dr. Gupta state that DNA tests weren’t around in the 1970’s, but that blood tests could produce some identifying information. She conveniently states that there were witnesses to CBS’s possible conception at a New York party.  And, Strike’s thought bubbles are now reading “paternity test” rather than “DNA test.” (Sidebar: Dear Mr. Galbraith, If my previous post was any help in this regard, please send me a sign. Just give a few minor characters the name “Louise” or something…)

Please use the comments section, so we can compile a master list.

*Anyone notice that Leda called her son “Cormy?”  He told us in The Silkworm that he hates that particular nickname, and so does Robin when she hears Coco say it in Lethal White.  Perhaps another clue to his mommy issues.

Comments

  1. Louise Freeman says

    Yes, Elisa, I think you are right here. To echo John’s comment, when Janice says something factually wrong, I think we should assume she is lying, rather than an authorial error.

  2. Excellent yes that makes sense. It is interesting to note that during their first interview, Strike asks Irene why she fought with Margot, and Irene does not deny that she did fight, but offers a bogus reason instead. Irene being innocent of Margot’s murder would not have a reason to lie about that particular point, so a better answer would have been “I didn’t have a bust up with Margot, but Janice did!”. So why did she go along with the premise that *she* had fought with Margot? Is it a) an author error, b) has she forgot/become confused about who did what over the passing years, or c) is she intentionally covering up for her friend/taking the spotlight off her either to save her embarrassment or because she wants the spotlight for herself? I think b) and c) are equally possible. I think perhaps a) is also possible in that JKR could easily have allowed Janice to admit to having a row about Kevin’s tummy without it looking too fishy (so Strike would suspect her of lying, but she’d hardly be the only suspect at that point).

  3. I thought about something else.

    So Gloria gets engaged to Luca, and then manages to run away from under his nose to make a new life abroad. Good on her and all. However, in the book, the Ricci family, and Luca in particular, are described as horribly vindictive, they go for “your family, your friends, even your pets” if you offend them etc. Is it realistic that Luca would take so kindly to being dumped that he would not exact revenge on Gloria’s poor, left behind grandparents? Is it realistic that Gloria would not worry about this in the slightest? That he would just shrug it off (after he’s bought the girl a diamond and all!) and consider it not worth making a fuss about seems, well, more reasonable and level headed than we have been led to believe this character is. I wonder.

  4. Beth Delalane says

    An Error in Chapter 67 – first called a bag of mixed nuts then a bag of almonds – they’re not the same thing! Page 834 – Robin “… taking a bag of mixed nuts unenthusiastically out of her bag …”. Page 838 – “… she set aside her bag of almonds …”
    Granted this is a minor example but I’m actually quite surprised at the number of errors and inconsistencies in this book.

  5. Rob de Smidt says

    I’m surprised that no one (even on websites about the music in the Strike novels) has commented on the fact that “Play that funky music” is quoted wrongly. The first line is “Once I was a boogie singer”, not “Once I was a funky singer”.
    Furthermore, Middle of the Road is called a one-hit-wonder, whereas they certainly had more than one hit song, e.g. Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep, Soley soley, Samson and Delilah, Sacramento and Yellow boomerang (all #1 in the Dutch charts).

  6. Is Dave Polworth’s mum alive or dead?? I am of the mind that ole Chum is going to play a larger role in the ultimate mystery of ‘who killed Leda Strike?’ Thus, this detail might end up being important. In Chapter 4 (pg 36), following Strike’s birthday night out with Dave, Joan asks if Dave’s wife and daughters are enjoying being back in St. Mawes. In response to her nephew’s assurances that all are happy, Joan says, “‘Dave’s mum thought Penny might not want to leave Bristol.’”

    During the nursery friend’s reunion in the pub, Rowling/Gilbarth establishes the Poleworth family “recently” (pg 7) returned to the seaside village. Then following Strike’s post-Joan’s-funeral call to Robin (which harkens back to their first phone call in TB) to thank her for the flowers. Strike attempts to thank Dave for all that he has done and Dave tries to dilute the moment by cracking a joke following Strike’s honest response that he would do the same for Dave; “‘Easy to say, you cunt,’ said Polworth, without skipping a beat, ‘seeing as my mum’s dead….’”

    Somehow, I think the recent death of Strike’s oldest friend’s mother, who I am guessing is as much a St. Mawes figure as Aunt Joan, would be a major event in Strike’s life. I hope we find out, as John has predicted we might, the exact tie of Dave Polworth to the Nancarrows. Maybe this flint will be cleared up.

  7. Great catch, Grace!

    Either this is a Flint — Dave’s mom being dead and gone per Dave’s comment at the funeral means she couldn’t have told Joan that Penny was unhappy about the return to St Mawes — or her death was so recent that it fell within the year of Strike5’s action and merited some discussion.

    Or Joan Nancarrow was already talking to the dead?

    Again, great catch, Grace! The Dave Polworth mystery, the one that opens ‘Troubled Blood,’ that is, why did he adopt young Cormoran on his first day of school, and remain as close to the Nancarrow clan as he does (he mentions conversations with Lucy, Joan, and Ted in every exchange with Strike), continues to unfold.

  8. Great stuff everyone!

    I came here looking for clarification the row at the St Johns Christmas party, and have been tickled by the array of “flints” on display.

    Clearly Strike has been misleading us about losing his leg, Robin knows Matthew’s mum isn’t really dead, and Janice’s story doesn’t check out timing wise, she must be covering for her bestie Irene!

    Beth, I can explain a bag of mixed nuts turning into a bag of almonds. Clearly Robin doesn’t like almonds and has eaten the rest of the selection before setting down her remnants. I’m guessing the almonds bring back painful memories of her wedding favours.

    And I too am hoping that true to her track record JKR is weaving a 7 book arc in which various bit part characters, and throwaway details will prove to be crucial to the ultimate denouement in which we find out: who killed Leda, Jonny loved Cormy all along and Charlotte is a criminal mastermind.

  9. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the argument at the Christmas party, and I’ve spotted an error that I haven’t found highlighted anywhere else.

    First mention of the argument in question comes from Dr Gupta, who recalls:

    “At the practice Christmas party—Margot organized that, as well, still trying to force us all to get along, you know—Irene had rather a lot to drink. I remember a slight contretemps, but I really couldn’t tell you what it was all about. I doubt it was anything serious. They seemed as amicable as ever the next time I saw them. Irene was quite hysterical after Margot disappeared.”

    That seems pretty clear. The argument was between Margot and Irene. Dr Gupta wouldn’t have any problem recognising them and his testimony is largely reliable.

    The phrasing is a little confusing though… The Christmas party was December 1973, but he says “Margot organized that, as well, still trying to force us all to get along, you know”, putting the party into context with the barbecue Margot also organised. This sounds like the Christmas party was a further attempt at workplace bonding, but earlier he says the barbecue was “the summer before she disappeared”, which suggests summer 1974, and therefore after the Christmas party.

    Then when interviewing Irene and Janice, Strike asks Irene about the argument and she says that she was unhappy with Margot having examined Janice’s son without asking and was upset on Janice’s behalf. Which Janice goes along with, despite looking at first confused and then cross with Irene.

    Where I think there’s a definite error is when Strike and Robin are discussing this afterwards, Robin says:

    “Irene and Janice’s row at the Christmas party, for starters”

    Surely that should read “Irene and Margot’s row”? It could be a slip by Robin, but that would be unusual. It could be a revealing error that in an earlier draft there was an argument between them. It could just be a mistake. Maybe it arose because it’s the little disagreement about it between Irene and Janice which is of interest.

    Then when they interview Oonagh, she recalls the argument. She is less reliable in terms of identifying who it was with, but says the blonde one, which confirms it was Irene and Margot (who Oonagh certainly would recognise), and we have no reason to think Oonagh is unreliable.

    Oonagh’s account also confirms that this was December 1973, Anna being only 2 or 3 months old, whereas the barbecue must have been summer 1974 as Anna was there being looked after by Cynthia.

    Oonagh says that Irene had “a proper go at” Margot for flirting with the man Irene had brought along. This couldn’t have been Paul Satchwell, could it? I don’t think we ever find out more. Perhaps this is just designed to set up the idea of Irene and Margot as love rivals and explain the subsequent Satchwell situation.

    Oonagh later says that when Margot had told her she didn’t like Janice, Oonagh had thought she was referring to Irene who she thought was a nurse. Again dislikeable Irene misdirecting us from murderous Janice and meaning Margot’s suspicions were disregarded.

    After Oonagh mentions Irene bringing “some man” to the Christmas party, the only other references are to the discovery that the Riccis turned up and uncovering what they were doing there.

  10. Late to the party but I have always been a bit bugged by the name of Dr. Dinesh Gupta’s daughter Aisha. Dinesh and Jheel Gupta have typical north Indian Hindu names, but a daughter of theirs has the classic Muslim/Arabic female name Aisha?

    Okay, we could explain this away by saying she might have been named for a Muslim family friend or something, but it seems unconvincing. I suspect this is just another Iraq/Afghanistan-type mixup on JKR’s part, with all those “exotic” names being basically interchangeable on her mind.

  11. Louise Freeman says

    Thank you, Kim! I love the diversity of our readers here; it is great to have people who can share perspectives and information we don’t have!

  12. I enjoyed Troubled Blood hugely and it’s unsurprising that errors creep into a work of this scope. A couple of continuity errors that I think I spotted:

    Strike hires a jeep to visit his aunt in Cornwall but the vehicle seems to be abandoned in favour of returning to London by train.

    Janice was said to have picked up her son Kevin from the babysitter on the night of Margot’s disappearance (as corroborated by said babysitter in police statements) but Janice makes no reference to this in her confession to Strike, only commenting on making the phone call to Irene about going to the cinema. The narrative jumps from her call with Irene to mixing concrete until ‘midnight, near enough’, without mention of Kevin.

  13. Louise Freeman says

    Thank you, Ian. I’ve often wondered what became of that Jeep myself. I always assumed that one of the many favors Polworth did for Strike was to journey back out there and drive it back to the closest rental place, once the flood waters receded, which seems to have taken only a few days, given the arrival of Lucy’s family. Or perhaps some good friend of LucyandGreg rode down with them as far as the Jeep, then drove it back to London if it had to be returned there.

    I think I spied another. At the verbal/emotional foodfight that was the interview at Broom House, someone (Roy or Cynthia) told the group that they had been told at the barbeque that Margot had received chocolates from a patient. Yet the barbeque had to have been a least a couple of months before Margot’s disappearance. Gloria had to ingest the punch that caused the Pill failure, get pregnant, confirm medically that she is pregnant, have the abortion and we knew it was at least 10 days later, when she started sleeping with Lucca again, before Margot vanished. While Gloria might have suspected she was pregnant 2 weeks after the barbeque, I don’t think pregnancy could be confirmed until at least 8 weeks after conception. Yet the chocolates clearly arrived only a few days before the murder; when Douthwaite had been seen as a patient 6 times in 2 weeks. Gloria asked Margot why she didn’t eat them instead of the doughnut. Unless these were different chocolates, or the Phipps remembered incorrectly.

  14. Louise Freeman says

    Janice told the sitter she had tickets for the last viewung. In the US, at least, it is common for the last viewing to start around 9. The Godfather is a pretty long movie, is it not? That may have told the sitter not to expect her before midnight.

  15. Cinema might have changed in the last couple of decades because of things like multiscreens and Imaxes etc. When I was a teenager in Italy (mid 90s to early 00s), the “ordinary” Odeon cinema I went to with my friends used to do a showing at 7.30 and one at 10.30 pm.

  16. Hope it’s not too late to throw in a couple of potential gaffes I think I spotted during a recent reread:

    People continually confuse Janice and Irene throughout the book, a fact that becomes a highly relevant plot point. Part of the source of confusion seems to stem from the fact that people tend to describe them both as “the nurse” or “the blonde.” Yet a group photo of the employees at the St. John’s practice makes me wonder how this particular mistake can occur once, let alone repeatedly. Irene is routinely described as blonde, but how about this excerpt from Chapter 25, in which Strike is looking at old photos published in Oakden’s book?

    “After looking up once more to check that SB’s car remained parked where he’d left it, Strike turned to the last two pictures, both of which featured the St. John’s practice Christmas party.

    Tinsel had been draped over the reception desk and the waiting room cleared of chairs, which had been stacked in corners. Strike searched for Margot in both pictures and found her, baby Anna in her arms, talking to a tall black woman he assumed was Wilma Bayliss. In the corner of the picture was a slim, round-eyed woman with feathered brown hair, who Strike thought might be a young Janice.”

    The other one that caught my eye is in Chapter 62 when Strike and Robin are arguing over her visit to Mucky Ricci’s nursing home and subsequent run-in with Luca. Specifically, it’s this excerpt from Strike’s inner monologue:

    “He wanted her to be open and direct with him, but knew that his own incoherent position on her taking physical risks was the reason she hadn’t been honest about her intentions. The long scar on her forearm reproached him every time he looked at it, even though the mistake that had led to the attack had been entirely her own.”

    To me, this is a clear reference to Robin’s interference with Alyssa/Brockbank in Career of Evil. But that particular incident took place *after* she was attacked by Laing in Catford. One could argue that she defied orders by being out after dark on that occasion, but Strike certainly never held that against her at the time in light of the evidence she uncovered just moments before. So I struggle to see how blame for that particular scar can be laid at Robin’s feet. I suspect Strike knows it too, even if perhaps the author momentarily forgot. 🙂

  17. Louise Freeman says

    Michelle,
    I think Strike is referring to Robin being out after dark during the Laing attack, and, even worse, getting distracted by talking on her cell phone, not paying attention to her surroundings and making a wrong turn, which allowed Laing to catch her alone. At the wedding, when Linda is having her angry words with Strike “Three times she’s been attacked working for you! Three times!” Strike muses that he accepted responsibility only for the first, because “The second had happened after Robin disregarded his explicit instructions and the third as a consequence of her not only disobeying him, but endangering a murder investigation and his entire business.”

  18. Hawthorne says

    I know this article is over a year old, but I just had to comment. I was so annoyed with Robin that she was mad at Strike for just getting her chocolates while he was sick. Granted he really should’ve picked something out earlier rather than right before she had to leave, but also he’s supposed to be her boss. I’ve never expected my boss to get me anything at all for the holidays.

    Then she was mad that Strike didn’t thank her for her gift, but I was really confused. A couple of chapters earlier J.K. had wrote that since Robin was mad about the chocolates, she had left Strikes gift untouched on Max’s table before she left for Masham. Since that means she left the gift at her home, I assumed that she never gave Strike his gift. But then later there’s a paragraph of Strike opening the dvds. There is absolutely no mention of how Strike would have got his gift so I was so mad that Robin was upset. That part definitely could’ve been written better.

    Did anybody else notice this/feel this way?

  19. Hawthorne, I was also confused about Robin’s Christmas present for Strike. I went back and read it again, and took it to mean that Robin left the present Strike got for her (the chocolates) behind at Max’s, rather than taking them up to Masham. She must have left the DVDs for Strike at the office.

  20. Oh, Troubled Blood is full of flints! The one with the poisoned chocolates is the worst (they must have arrived near to Margot’s winter disappearance, not around barbeque time) but the ages of the Fuller family are a problem. 40 years on from Margot’s disappearance, Betty’s daughter Cindy, who told her mum that year she needed to go to hospital to get her bleeding seen to, is making good money as an escort in the West End. That puts Cindy in her late 40s at youngest, when one is not typically a high earner in that trade. Betty’s own age is a problem. She’s 84 when our detectives interview her, meaning 43 or 44 when Margot disappeared. But Wilma Bayliss hadn’t even qualified as a social worker by that point, and the Bayliss daughters tell us that some time after Wilma Bayliss qualified, she encountered Betty, who was then a grandmother in her 40s.

  21. DonkeyBalloon says

    Am I missing something with the timeline of the Johnny Rokeby party and Robin’s visit to Mucky Ricci? We are told the party is May 24th. When Robin goes to visit Ricci she had gotten black eyes recently, so it could not have been long after the party. But Luca Ricci is there to bring a birthday gift to his father, who is a Leo with a late July birthday. This seems like a 2-month time jump.

  22. DonkeyBalloon says

    Never mind my last post there is no time jump from May 24 to July. The time is accounted for. “By mid July Strike and Robin were the only two left working at the agency.” But before going to St. Peter’s Robin checks her appearance in the mirror of a McDonald’s bathroom and is reassured that no one would guess that she had recently had two black eyes. Would she have had black eyes still after 2 months, such that she would need to cover them with makeup? That threw me off.

  23. In paperback, the ‘newborn’ has been changed to ‘her two-year-old daughter’.

  24. Louise Freeman says

    Thank you, PerLish; that is very interesting. Was there any correction about how many funerals Robin had attended?

    Update: Apparently it has; there are now three funeral listed. Also, another error (which I don’t think we noted here) where Cynthia leaves to make coffee and comes back with tea is also fixed.

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