Troubled Blood Predictions: The Givens

What We Know Has to Happen: Seven Troubled Blood Near Sureties

Readers are four books deep into the Cormoran Strike series and we have in hand a list of things that happen in every book. Let’s clear the deck of the almost sure things to look for in Troubled Blood as something of a review of our experience thus far. (For more on this, especially the ring writing notes, see The Three Things about Comoran Strike Every Harry Potter Fan Should Know. If you want to see my predictions for Lethal White in this same format, go here; the scorecard of hits and misses is here.)

On to the sure-thing predictions for Troubled Blood –

  1. There will be a Murder, Strike and Robin will Investigate it, They will come to a Seeming Dead-End, Strike will Have an Insight into Whodunnit, He Will Get the Proof He Needs to Convince the Metropolitan Police to Make an Arrest, and there will be a Reveal and Arrest.

Strike runs the C. B. Strike Detective Agency. Robin Ellacott-Cunliffe is his partner, though he retains final decision making authority (and responsibility). He has a history, to her amusement, of taking unlikely and unprofitable cases that turn into Big Deal media events. We know from the pre-publication synopsis and First Part release that Troubled Blood will not be an exception to this rule; the fifth mystery is a missing person cold case, which, while potentially profitable for the agency, does not promise to be successful or controversial. We can expect that Strike and Robin will solve the case and that it will make headlines in the process. There should be conflicts and positive exchanges with the Metropolitan Police during the book, a combative avoidance with newspaper and television ‘journalists,’ and, as in Lethal White, the presence of other Private Investigators looking into the Strike Agency for bad actors.

          2. There will be Revelations About Strike’s Personal and Professional History

In every book, Galbraith reveals something about Strike’s past life with Leda, Charlotte, and the Nancarrows or at Oxford and in the IEB. The first seven chapters of Troubled Blood continue this narrative slow release.

          3. There will be Revelations About Strike’s Former Fiancee, Charlotte Campbell-Ross

Ditto the Charlotte data. She calls Strike’s office, we learn from Robin in chapter three of Troubled Blood, and the Goddess of Glam says she “has something” to give Bluey. We learn from Robin that Charlotte safely delivered her twins in the year between Lethal White and the action of Troubled Blood.

          4. There will be Revelations about Leda Strike, Cormoran’s Mother, and Her Death

In some Strike books there are more details, in others there are astonishingly few ‘reveals’ about Leda Strike. Career of Evil  was loaded; Lethal White barely has a mention of her. Troubled Blood promises to be more like Strike 3 than Strike 4 in this regard; she already features in chapters one and four of the released Apple Books preview.

          5. There will be Revelations about Robin Ellacott-Cunliffe’s Personal and Professional History

We learned in Career of Evil about the crisis at university that kept Robin from finishing her degree and Lethal White was chock full of details about how this played out in her relationship with Matthew. Troubled Blood will probably not be as Robin history loaded as these two books, but I expect we will learn at least one new reason to despise her first husband.

          6. There will be Pronounced Echoes of Career of Evil, as well as Cuckoo’s Calling, in Troubled Blood

Lethal White was heavy with references to events that were shadows of similar events in the first Strike novel, Cuckoo’s Calling. Read ‘Cuckoo’s Calling: 25+ Lethal White Finds’ and ‘Lethal White: Add Seven Cuckoo’s Echoes.’ This, when added to Rowling’s history of ring writing, suggests strongly that she is writing another seven book ring cycle akin to the Harry Potter series. If true, there should be a bevy of echoes from Career of Evil, because Strike 3 is the correspondent to Strike 5 in a typical turtle-back ring.

There may also be pointers to Cuckoo’s Calling, too, believe it or not, because Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was largely a re-telling of the first Potter novel, Philosopher’s Stone;  ‘The Red Hen,’ Joyce Odell, soon after the publication of Phoenix in 2005 noted the more than fifty parallels between the fifth book in that series and the first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

          7. There will be Pronounced Echoes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as well as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in Troubled Blood

Cuckoo’s Calling a la Philosopher’s Stone was about Cormoran Strike’s coming into his own, his “becoming a name,” and his escape from a relationship and living situation that was more a prison than a home. To quote Louise Freeman’s summary of the rest

Book 2 centered on the havoc wreaked by a mysterious autobiographical book, Book 3 on a notorious escaped criminal stalking the protagonist and Book 4 on patricide of a government minister, set against the backdrop of a major sporting event.

Let’s focus on that last one, Book 4 of each series. Lethal White, her fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, if written in parallel with and as commentary on the Hogwarts Saga equivalent numbers, should be overflowing with echoes and parallels to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And it is. See ‘Does Lethal White Echo Goblet of Fire?’ for the list we put up here after a first reading (I say ‘we’ because Louise Freeman and Evan Willis significantly expanded my first seven parallels in the comment boxes beneath that post) and Lethal White: Every Goblet of Fire Link?’ for the exhaustive cataloging. There are more than forty echoes of greater and lesser resonance.

Ergo, Strike 5 will be heavy with references to Potter 5, and, for reasons mentioned above, to Potter 1, Philosopher’s Stone.

Tomorrow, we continue our countdown to Troubled Blood with a guest post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter. We’ll return the day after with a review of our previous guesswork about Troubled Blood, cf., Louise Freeman’s ‘Creosote-Colored Tea Leaves,’ and some added ring guesswork based on what we know from the revealed Parts 1 and 2. 

Feel free to drop your best guesses about Troubled Blood in the comment boxes below!


  1. Hi John, I’ve been reading your site and it’s really great! I’ve come across some great musings on open mysteries such as Rokeby’s DNA test and who sent the roses in Career, but I haven’t seen anyone asking the question of who was the mystery girl mentioned by Izzy at the end of Lethal as one of the witnesses to Raff’s strangulation. The obvious answer would be that it was Charlotte, her being old friends with Izzy etc., but if so, why not just say so? Are there any other theories out there?

  2. In the 3rd Strike book ‘Career of Evil’ right from the beginning when the overt threat was delivered on the Strike Agency’s doorstep—the severed leg—Strike recognized it for what it was, a clear threat directed at him. He immediately thought of past criminals he had arrested and who had both the capacity to commit this gruesome crime, as well as, a total hatred of him.

    He quickly came up with names of two possible suspects from his days in the SIB branch of the military. The third name he gave DI Wardle was crime boss “Digger” Malley. However, he quickly discounted him when he remembered that it was unlikely Digger knew he was the one who provided the testimony that finally sent Digger off to prison (since he testified in secret). Strike quickly filled the vacated third spot with Jeff Whittaker, his hated step father, whom he blamed for his mother’s death.

    So if a similar parallel happens between book 3 and 5 in Strike, to the one that happened between Harry Potter 3 and 5, it might go like this:

    HP Book 3: Prisoner of Azkaban—where an escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, was believed to be out to kill Harry Potter but it turned out that Sirius was innocent.

    Strike Book 3: Career of Evil—the threat, from an ex-con Strike sent to prison, comes as a clear visual threat aimed at Strike—in the form of a severed leg (same leg and type of amputation as Strike’s leg). The threat was not to murder him but to destroy him by killing his secretary and ruining his reputation and life.

    HP Book 5: Order of the Phoenix—the threat to HP is now both internal—a sharing of blood, as well as, a part of Voldemort’s soul/Horcrux. A situation that is revealed to him in all its dire consequences—that Harry’s and Voldemort’s fates are joined. To kill one is to kill the other.

    So what does this bode for Strike in book 5?
    Well—right in the Strike 5th book: Troubled Blood—is the word BLOOD. This hints at a blood tie. Like between Harry and Voldemort but with a difference. Liked HP 5, Strike could discover a blood tie between himself and someone he discovers in his hunt to find his clients’s mother.

    This shared blood tie could lead to a shared fate. I confess I have been giving this some thought (for awhile now) but I’m unable to settle on a clear winner for the direction I think this possible discovery might take.

    There are hints in the series that Strike could have an (as yet) unknown real biological father (other than Rokeby).There is also a more disturbing (think Lethal White’s Rosmersholm epigraphs) scenario with a Charlotte/Rebecca West connection. At this point I’m not sure if either (or both??) will play out. Since in the 3rd Strike book—the serial killer’s murderous impulses were not aimed at Strike’s physical death but rather on destroying Strike’s living existence (reputation, business, Robin). In fact, he wanted him to live and suffer knowing and feeling every day what he had done to him. So will this be less a life and death shared fate and more a fate worse than death?

  3. Kelly Loomis says

    If we are looking for a parallel or echo of OOTP, we can find it in Islington. For those who don’t know, Islington is where Grimmauld Place was located. The Clerkenwell gate is located in Islington. (I bought a T-shirt at Universal’s Harry Potter World with a Grimmauld Place street sign and Islington borough or neighborhood)

    HogPro author Beatrice Groves gives a good history of the gate in today’s blog on Mugglenet and Nick Jeffrey snd Joanne Gray gave information about the gate in earlier HogPro posts when Rowling put the gate on her Twitter header. If I am correct, this is the area where Margaret Bamborough meets her end or where serial killer Dennis Creed lives in Troubled Blood.

    I love the connection!

  4. Elisa,

    I kind of thought the girl who Izzy wouldn’t mention the name of was Verity Pulham, the girl who’s spot on the fencing team was (fairly) taken by Rhiannon Winn. It’s who Della Winn confuses ” Venetia Hall” as when she first meets Robin in disguise.

    It seems like Verity and Freddie were probably close, if he helps mentally torture Rhiannon, and also that Verity isn’t a very good person, if she doesn’t do anything to stop the persecution on her behalf. Maybe Izzy doesn’t want make any more connections with Rhiannon’s suicide and what an evil, violent person Freddie was.

    I guess it could be Charlotte at Raff’s strangulation, but it seems like Charlotte would have shared some version on the story with Strike already. Izzy has to be 3 or 4 years younger then Freddie if Fizzy is the middle child (of the first batch.) Is Charlotte the same age? I’m not sure.

  5. I assumed the person was Izzy herself who didn’t want to admit to being there and to having done nothing for her half-brother Raff (hence her visiting him in prison, et cetera; she feels guilty — and certainly wasn’t going to admit to being present in front of Strike).

    I’d bet the farm it wasn’t Charlotte, because of the photograph taken of the gathering. No way she doesn’t stand out, especially to Strike.

  6. That’s true, it could be Izzy trying to save face.

    Izzy is vague on the dates, but it sounds like it’s a completely different occasion from Freddie’s 18th birthday and the big group shot.

    But I think if Charlotte had witnessed it Strike would have already heard some version of the story, or Izzy would expect him to already know it.

Speak Your Mind