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. I think the continuity editor on this book was awful. Robin used the “kiss” emoji all the time at the end of text messages to Strike in earlier books, but gets concerned when she uses it in this book. I noticed the Porter vs. Parker. Also, driving audiobook listeners crazy is the narrator is calling Ilsa, Isla. It is all over the audio reviews how it is driving people crazy. I went so far as to contact Hachette audio about it because it really takes you out of the moment.

  2. Louise Freeman says

    I was remembering the “kiss” on texts, too, and planning to look that up now. I am listening to the audiobook and was also mystified by the name change. Even if it somehow got misprinted in the script, you’d think Robert Glennister, after recording 4 other books and playing Jasper Chiswell, would have remembered the character’s name.

  3. On page 14 there is a reference to Strike’s leg being “blown off in Iraq.” Thought it was Afghanistan. As Lisa says, it takes one “out of the moment.”

  4. Kelly Loomis says

    I was wondering about the Ilsa/Isla thing also and thought I was going bonkers – had I not remembered the pronunciation correctly?’

  5. I just went back to look up the kisses in the prior books and they are designated as R for Robin x for kiss in the books at the end of text message. In Troubled Blood and mind you I am only through Part 3 it is on the Birthday card where she signs it Love, Robin x. So I guess he could have just been referring to something written vs. a text. Louise, I thought the same thing about Glennister, how do you forgot how to pronounce a name. I bought the kindle version of the book as soon as that happened and the issue with the end of Chapter 2 where it seemed the audio was cut off. It was not, it was just the way the Chapter ended, very abrupt. I guess I have not gotten far enough into the book to hear the Iraq part, but it was Afghanistan. Fire the editor now, lol. Hopefully they will clean these issues up in the next run of the book. Not as big a problem as who came out of the wand first James or Lily, but still bad. Especially knowing how people pick these books apart.

  6. SPOILER
    On the day of Aunt Joan’s funeral in St Mawes, Robin finds herself in Leamington Spa working the Bamborough case, and reflects on the “only two” funerals she has ever attended in her life. One, an uncle in Yorkshire around the time of her rape; two, Rochelle Onifade’s funeral in Cuckoo’s Calling. Um, hello? What about Matthew’s mum’s funeral in The Silkworm?

  7. Louise Freeman says

    Elisa: Good catch! I guess we could say she is trying to repress everything associated with the Flobberworm, but …. nah, it’s an error.

  8. Elisa, I just noticed the funeral one also. Wow, the continuity editor was not on the ball. These are not small errors. I am surprised JKR made these errors. She usually has things planned out better than this.

  9. Kelly Loomis says

    Another one I heard today was Whittaker described as “the last of Leda’s lovers”. She was actually married to him. That might be splitting hairs however!

  10. In Chapter 2 it says Strikes’ leg was blow off in Iraq, but in Chapters 17 and 52 it says Afghanistan. How do these big mistakes make it into the book? I am still amazed.

  11. I know right??? Another one, less important, but, because of my own nationality, it irks me…
    While researching Gloria Conti’s family, Strike (or was it Robin? I’m afriad I forget exactly where this was…) comes across her father’s firts name, Ricardo, and concludes that the family must be Italian. If the name was Italian, it would be spelled Riccardo. The one-c spelling is the Spanish version. It surprises me that JKR wouldn’t check with a native speaker if she’s going to introduce foreign names (I vaguely remember Mandarin speakers raising problems associated with the name Cho Chang). Muddling Italian and Spanish spellings and accents is common for English speakers.

  12. The big one for me was Robin using the 1961 census to help track down Gloria Conti. The census returns aren’t publicly available until 100 years have passed.

  13. Bonni Crawford says

    I agree it’s a bit odd her accessing the 1961 census, but on the other hand – it’s a bit of a stretch, I grant, since Robin didn’t mention receiving Vanessa’s help – but possibly Vanessa could have got the information for Robin, as I assume the police can be granted access to the census data held by the UK Statistics Authority.
    The general public can you can search for some of the information (not names and addresses though) at https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C13342 and at https://census.ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/microdata.aspx. I would guess the police would have access to similar but much more detailed resources.

  14. Nick Jeffery says

    According to Section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, access to the data is lawful for the purpose of a criminal investigation. In practise a court order is not required but the request would have to come from the police.

  15. Elisa, Good catch on the funeral. I thought two funerals seemed like a low number for Robin. That’s really annoying about the “Richardo” mis-spelling!

    I don’t think there’s really a Cho Chang analogy because there’s no alphabet in Chinese, just thousands of unique characters. The sounds have been broken down into phonetic blocks with symbols or with the Roman alphabet, but there’s many different systems of Romanisation. There’s also a bunch of different dialicts or local pronunciations. On top of that, Cho and we assume her family, have immigrated to the UK and stuff literally gets lost in translation. That’s a complicated way to say there’s not really a way to misspell Cho Chang’s name in Roman letters.

    So you have to go back to the characters. But we don’t know what they are. Chang is a very common Chinese last name spelled “Zhang” in the mainland Chinese system. But sounds like there are other reasonable translations. A classic Chinese last name like Chang doesn’t really have a meaning. Since Asian names are last name first, some people have tried to argue that her name is really Chang Cho. But I don’t think there’s a good argument for that in the books with the schoolmates who are friendly to each other calling each other by their first names. “Cho” doesn’t exist in the system used in Mainland China, but we don’t know where her family immigrated from or when. (I don’t know any Korean, but it sounds like there is an reasonable argument that Cho could be Korean. She could also be Chinese diaspora from another Asain county and then immigrated to the UK.) There are endless homonyms in Chinese on top of the different systems of Romanisation and dialects. So we’re Really quesssing here, there are literally thousands of possibilities for “Cho.” The translators for the Chinese and Taiwanese editions of Harry Potter both chose “Qiu,” which basically sounds the same and used the character which means Autumn.

    Here’s a good link with all of the characters names Chinese, if you scroll down a little, there’s a long entry on Cho Chang with the actually characters. I didn’t know how the Hog Pro comments section would handle Chinese characters.

    http://www.cjvlang.com/Hpotter/names/matesct.html

    I’m not a native Chinese speaker, but my husband is and I checked with him.

  16. I loved the book but also noticed a few small irregularities. For example at one point Robin notes that her old Land Rover doesn’t have a radio let alone satnav. In another scene she turns up the radio as she is driving to block out her thoughts. I suppose she could have been driving Strike’s BMW, but it wasn’t specified so one assumes she is driving her own vehicle.

    While that oversight could be debated one that cannot be occurs during the day trip to Skegness over fish and chips. Strike “pulled out his packet of Benson & Hedges but found it empty. I need more fags,” he says. Then after a brief conversation “Strike lit himself another cigarette” and then off they went to buy more cigarettes. That was a fun catch!
    And of course, forgetting about having attended Matthew’s mum’s funeral was strange when her death had been a plot point for sustaining their ill-fated relationship for a time.
    Loads of fun though and my husband is mocking me mercilessly for posting this. Apparently to non-readers this discussion seems strange.

  17. When Strike calls to apologize after the dinner party and tells Robin she’s the best he’s got. She gets frustrated that he’s never said that to her specifically. But he said it to her in Lethal White after her panic attack in the car when they are waiting for the Tegan interview.
    This, the kisses on texts,and the funerals stood out right away.

  18. I’m so glad people noticed how many funerals Robin had attended. To forget Mathew’s Mum’s funeral seemed a massive mistake when it was such a major plot line. I noticed it straight away, shouldn’t the person proof reading the novel have noticed also?
    This is a niggle for the audible version, but Strike’s brother Al had an American accent in the previous audio books and now suddenly he is a Cockney. Why? Other than that I love the narration of these books. Robert Glenister is brilliant.

  19. Louise Freeman says

    We are told Strike and Robin had investigated two of Two-Times’ previous girlfriends. Actually, they investigated two different ones in Career of Evil, and he was already a repeat client by then, given his nickname at the start of the book. So Platium was at least #2, meaning they are, at minimum, on #4 by now.

  20. Hi, guys. Cutting straight to the chase, there was something that baffled me, too.

    In Chapter 3, it says: ‘Following Robin’s discovery of her estranged husband’s affair, they’d had one last cold and bitter meeting, coincidentally in a Pizza Express near Matthew’s place of work, where they’d agreed to seek a no-fault divorce following a two-year separation.’

    However, in Chapter 18, it says: ‘When she’d broken the news to her parents that she and Matthew were to divorce a little over a year after they’d married, her mother and father had wanted her to use a solicitor in Harrogate, who was an old family friend.’

    Unless a couple of screws are loose in my head during this present moment, there seems to be a contradiction here. Chapter 3 specifies that Matthew and Robin had gone through a two-year separation before they agreed to divorce. However, Chapter 18 states that Robin announced a divorce to her parents after she and Matthew had been married for a little over a year.

    How can you make the divorce announcement a little over a year after you’ve married, while having been separated for two years before you and your spouse agree to divorce? Am I missing something or is this a genuine error?

  21. Joanne Gray says

    Hi Leyla,
    I think the “little over a year” was back in 2012 (timeline of Lethal White ends in Sept. 2012). That’s when Robin told her parents and Troubled Blood takes place starting at the end of 2013 until end of 2014, the time period of the necessary 2 year separation. Hence Robin’s freedom at the end of Troubled Blood.

    The book ends leaving us with the hope that Cormoran and Robin’s relationship will move ahead in book 6 (good news JKR confirmed that she’s working on it at this time). The bad news, however, is that Charlotte is still not out of the picture. Her last hurrah will no doubt be the hellish hurricane that Strike feared it would be–way back in Cuckoo’s Calling. This last treacherous test must be won before they’ll truly be free of their previous wrong partners.

  22. Bonni Crawford says

    Hi Leyla,
    I think what is being described in the passages you quote is the following sequence of events:
    2011: Robin and Matthew get married
    2012: Robin leaves Matthew
    2012: Robin announces to her parents that she and Matthew are going to divorce.
    2012: Robin and Matthew meet in a Pizza Express and agree that they will seek a no-fault divorce. To get a no-fault divorce in the UK, you must first have been separated for two years. So they are agreeing that they will remain legally married but separated for the next two years, and following that two year separation, they will seek a no-fault divorce.
    2014: The two year separation has been completed and they are now divorcing, wrangling over the money in the joint account etc.

  23. Ah! All understood now! Thank you so much, Joanne and Bonni! Turns out a couple of screws were loose. 😄 Sometimes I can be a little slow with grasping things. Thanks so much again!

  24. Thank you Rebecca that was really interesting!
    JKR doesn’t come off well with Italian names in this book 😀 Mucky’s first name is said to be “Niccolo”. That’s another misspelling, although a less noticeable one. There are a couple of Italian variants of the name “Nicholas”. The most common one is Nicola (pronounced “Nicòla”, it’s an endless source of hilarity for Italians travelling to English speaking countries, because in Italy Nicola is a man whereas in the UK and America Nicola, pronounced “Nìcola”, is a woman!). Then there are Nicolò and Niccolò. Both exist, but the accent on the final o is crucial. No one would spell either version without.
    It’s possible the Riccis were second generation or higher, which might mean that his parents, already settled in the UK, altered the spelling of his name to make it easier for British people to spell. I still think an Italian parent would choose a different name that required no tinkering rather than do that. We are quite particular 😀

    I do have another question, regarding (SPOILER) Janice Beattie’s alibi. In the first part of the book, it is stated that she spent the afternoon of the day of Margot’s disappearance doing house calls. Talbot is explicitly said to have gone round everyone she supposedly visited, and they all confirmed that she had been there at the appropriate time. The lady on Gopsall Street is the last one. At the end of the book only the lady on Gopsall Street is mentioned, whose testimony is exposed as worthless because of her dementia; Janice is revealed not to have gone on house calls, but to have gone back to the surgery, doctored Margot’s donut, then gone up to the Athorns, put them to sleep, and gone down to wait for Margot in the phone box. Is this an error or is there something I’m missing? The old woman might have been demented, but what about the other supposed house calls?

  25. Bonni Crawford says

    I think she did the other house calls, and finished them early enough to get back to the surgery in time to inject the doughnut. I don’t think we have the timings of the other house calls but Janice knew Margot would be staying at the surgery until 17:45 or so, so I don’t suppose she needed to be there to inject the doughnut until 16:30 or even later. Does that tally with other people’s understanding?

  26. Jenny Curran says

    I’m listening to the audiobook version. I am enjoying it, in spite of the errors and recent controversy surrounding Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric. Robert Glenister’s UK regional accents sound to me authentic, but his Irish accent for Margot’s best friend Una was nothing short of atrocious. It started in Dublin and then circumnavigated the whole country, eventually settling on a soft northern Ireland/Cornish analgam. It was very difficult to listen to…

  27. Louise Freeman says

    The UK audiobook has announced that they will issue a corrected version with “Isla” back to “Ilsa”. Now, if only they would fix the parts about 1) signing texts with X 2) Mrs. Cunliffe’s funeral and 3) Robin thinking Strike didn’t know she knew his parentage.

  28. There are also too many Americanisms which rely spoilt the flow for me, no-one I know in the uk ever uses the phrases ‘sweater vest’, ‘wind cheater’ or ‘storm drain’. The use of the word ‘retarded’ is also not used in the UK and is an abhorrent word to be included
    Also, you couldn’t study medicine at Imperial College until the 1990s, before then you studied at a hospital , St Mary’s or Charing Cross for example. A quick Google search would have made that clear

  29. Bonni Crawford says

    Good point about Imperial College not having a medical school until 1988 Lucy. I disagree with you on windcheater though; as far as I am aware it is a British word and I’ve certainly encountered it in Britain (not on a frequent basis, admittedly) throughout my life, mostly used by outdoorsy types and/or members of my hiking club.
    I agree that the word retarded is not acceptable nowadays, but it was a medically acceptable and commonly used word in the 1970s, (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=retarded&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=7)
    and if I remember rightly it’s Janice (or possibly Irene) who uses it – reflecting the way that out-of-date language is sometimes used by people who have retired, especially if they don’t have a great deal of contact with people or environments who would convey to them that the meaning of certain terms has changed and that they’re no longer acceptable.

  30. Louise Freeman says

    Lucy and Bonni: Would the term “newborn” be used for a two-year old in the UK? I’m still trying to figure out how Lucy and Cormoran suddenly became two years further apart in age.
    I also noticed in the audiobook, Strike pronounced the word “schedule” with the “sk” sound used in the US, rather than the “sh” used in England. Or is that a regional thing?

  31. Hi Louise, another Brit here…! We definitely wouldn’t refer to a 2 year old as a newborn – I would say max 6 months at most, so that’s an error. I.pronounce schedule with a ‘sh’ but I have friends who would pronounce it ‘sk’ so I think it’s not a regional thing but more of an ‘aitch/haitch’ thing for the letter h!! (I’m ‘aitch’..!)

  32. I think it is Betty Fuller who uses the word “retarded” to describe the Athorn child she remembers. She also uses the word “darkie” (at which Robin flinches) so I don’t think Rowling is using the word casually. It is a marker of the character’s education, caste, and indifference to political correctness. Readers are meant to be shocked as Robin is — and to know what disdain Betty Fuller feels for our sensitivities about language in her dismissal of Robin as a know-nothing (cf., her comments to Robin in that conversation and to Strike about her when she leaves). That’s not a flint, in sum, but a great piece of shorthand character revelation.

  33. Kathy Hills says

    Hi Elisa and Bonnie – I noticed another small anomaly in Janice Beattie’s alibi, as well as the ones you mention.

    Janice says she had a babysitter for Kevin the night that Margot was murdered, and the police did check out the babysitter and that Janice picked up Kevin “at the time she said she did” but Janice says she didn’t finish the concreting until midnight.

    Why did nobody question where she was until that hour, and how could she pick a child up so late from a babysitter?

    Also, she then goes on to say she re-assures the Athorns and tells them not to open “that big box” and to find somewhere else for the toys. If she was concreting until midnight, what time did she wake them up to talk to them?

    It’s all a bit puzzling. I must say I really enjoyed the book and did not see the denouement coming. Janice fooled me as thoroughly as she fooled everyone else. But the timings do seem to be out on her alibi.

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