Troubled Blood ‘Listen Along,’ Part Two: Premises for Reading Talbot’s True Book

Robert Galbraith’s twitter feed is sponsoring a ‘Listen Along’ for new readers of Troubled Blood. Last Saturday they posted two questions about the novels first fourteen chapters, Parts 1 and 2 of seven, and today, as you can see above, they’ve put up two more, these about chapters 15 to 27. That’s a bit of a weird break, as Part 3 closes at chapter 30, but I guess they have plans for a set of Christmas-themed questions for week three in this series.

If the aim was to generate online conversation among new listeners, the project in its first week was a fail. I was the only person who tweeted a response to their questions and my notes there were for re-readers to come join the conversation here about Troubled Blood‘s first two Parts. That pitch, it seems, and my seven posts here last week about Strike 5’s first fourteen chapters were also a failure, at least with respect to generating conversation; only one reader shared her thoughts about what I was writing all week.

I’ve decided, consequently, not to continue my chapter by chapter review of Troubled Blood, as much as I enjoyed writing those posts. @RGalbraith may have to continue playing a losing hand, but I can move on to more fruitful use of my time here. I realized last night while writing up some thoughts on Talbot’s ‘True Book’ that this bizzarro embedded text is the single most neglected aspect of Rowling-Galbraith’s longest novel and that, if I’m going to explore its depths and various meanings, I’d best do it before Ink Black Heart is upon us, a publication date only one month away.

My working premises for a reading of Talbot’s True Book as I begin are that (1) the book is indeed Rowling’s ‘True Book,’ her covert message about what happened top Margot Bamborough and who killed her, (2) Talbot’s tarot card spreads, the visible Celtic Cross lay-out and the three card spreads hidden in the various illustrations, are not random but Rowling’s deliberate choices to convey her meaning, and (3), in contrast, the astrological chart drawn for the moment and place of Bamborough’s disappearance, guided the choice of star signs for characters and their relationship. This last point is an especially difficult one to grasp or believe, I know, but the alternative, that she wrote the book and then found a time and place to match her story is preposterous.

So, next week, a close look at Rowling’s illustrated True Book inside Troubled Blood, an embedded text that may be The Presence’s most successfully covert bit of writing, a book within the book the characters struggle to understand but the readers of Strike 5 have thus far accepted at face value or at the level of Strike and Robin’s readings. I hope you’ll join me in Trelawney’s classroom for a reading of Rowling’s tarot card spreads and riffs on the Crowley-inspired deck illustrations!


  1. I’m still on Silkworm in my read through, so stopping the TB posts will certainly make me feel less guilty for being behind schedule in my Cormoran Strike readthrough before IBH comes out next month.

    I’m also VERY intrigued to see your reflections on the Talbot writings, because they were so much fun to glance at as I was reading Troubled Blood back when it came out, but I don’t think I ever got much out of it, other than thinking it was ultimately a really fun red herring, albeit one that effectively established the macabre tone of the overall narrative.

  2. I commented on your previous post before reading this one >_<

    I will sure be missing the chapter by chapter posts, since I enjoyed the previous ones. I will use my time to print and review the notes of the True Book and see what I can gleam from them 🙂

    I also interpreted the two spreads that Robin did for a book club I organized with some friends, so I could share my thougths with the readers, even though they are only my interpretations 🙂

  3. @Beth That would be great, thanks.

Speak Your Mind