Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #1: Parallels with Career of Evil. Spoiler Warning!

Starting out on publication day with a test of the ring-structure hypothesis!  If the Cormoran Strike series follows the same pattern as Harry Potter, and the many parallels of Lethal White with Cuckoo’s Calling (see here, here, and here) suggests is does, there should be many points of linkage between Books Three and Five.  All serious Strikers who, like me, are devouring the book as soon as it gets into our hands should make note of them in the comments.  Headmaster John will compile a master list later!

Spoilers after the jump!

Just to start with four big ones that jumped out at me:

  • The most obvious:  Our heroes are investigating a serial killer, just as they did in Career of Evil. A horrible, almost subhuman, predator of women, who terrorizes, tortures and chops them up into bits to be stashed way as trophies.  No vengeful families, blackmail or supposed suicides here, folks. Just lots of misogynistic gore. 
  • We also have Shanker back, assisting with his connections to the criminal world.  And even a mention of buying presents for little Zahara, meaning, remarkably, that his relationship with Alyssa seems to have lasted two years.  As far as his love life goes, Shanker’s found more stability than “Bunsen.”
  • We also have “Two-Times” back, for what must be at least the fourth time, by now.  At least he’s a steady source of income. 
  • We also have two major rows between the partners:  one after the disastrous dinner party (regarding Cormoran’s lack of appreciation for Robin, so matching up with her “fine china” ultimatum in CoE) and one where she goes into a dangerous situation after Strike warned her against it (and therefore corresponding to the Brockbank visit).  

Please add more to the comments!


  1. Louise Freeman says

    Some more:
    Ilsa’s first explicit efforts to match-make came in Career of Evil, and she tries it again here.
    Robin confided in Strike about her rape when she was drunk in Career of Evil. Here, Strike gets drunk and manipulates Robin into revealing her rape to someone she would have preferred not know.
    Robin has to look up information about unusual sexual fetishes. FYI— not to brag, but I guessed both apotemnophila and autonepiophilia would be relevant before they were mentioned.
    Killer has a dual identity and is interviewed by Strike in the false identity in the course of the investigation.
    Robin holes up in her room in Masham to avoid both grief from Matthew and annoyances from siblings in books 3 and 5.
    We see the re-appearance of Vanessa’s boyfriend Oliver.
    Strike travels by sleeper train.
    Strike and Robin road-trip in the Land Rover, and he apologizes for not being able to share driving.
    Mention of Rokeby tying up child support so Leda couldn’t fritter it away.
    Robin tries to hustle an irate Strike out of an eating establishment to avoid a scene when he blows up at a witness, but she was not nearly as successful this time as she was at the Gallery Mess with Tempest.
    Strike rescues a woman from a life-threatening situation by phone, listening to the emergency unfold on his cell, while contacting authorities on a different phone. (Robin’s knife attack in CoE, Charlotte’s suicide attempt in TB).
    Robin puts her self-defense training to good use when grabbed from behind by a disgusting pervert.
    Finally, while our Headmaster’s prediction of a focus on three male suspects to match Whittaker, Brockbank and Laing did not exactly pan out, there were three, not one, cold cases solved, and three different killers turn out to have dispatched the three suspected victims of Creed: Louise Tucker, Margot, and Kara Wolfson.

  2. Some more:

    – Undesired flowers with an unopened card left at the office.

    – Robin seeing a photo of Rokeby in a pub

    – The interview with Irene and Janice resembles the one between Tempest and Jason.

    – People changing their names.

  3. Louise Freeman says

    Great work, Beth!
    I was going to add the flowers and unopened card today, but you beat me to it! There was also a contrast: the roses died quickly, because no one ever changed their water. The lilies live for almost two weeks, because Pat tends them daily.
    Whittaker and hs connection to Satanism at least got a mention, but I am disappointed that he and Switch Levay Bloom did not turn up in the flesh.
    Strike mentions that churches are good hiding places for murderers and child molesters.  Remember where Alyssa met Brockbank?
    We also have another person named Louise, the third of the series. In CoE, it was Robin’s self-defense instructor, who led to my favorite line of the series: “But Louise was brilliant.” In LW, it was Andy’s wife. Now we have murder victim Louise Tucker.

  4. Louise Freeman says

    Remember how the former Rona Laing found safety with a loving police officer husband and the German Shepherds they raised? Gloria’s husband also brought in a German Shepherd when he interrupted the FaceTime.

  5. Another one:

    Robin puts into practice her personal defense skills when a man grabs her from behind, with the difference that this time it is her who is brandishing a knife.

  6. Louise Freeman says

    There is a mention of Robin crying in her bedroom over gifts the Flobberworm gave her in CoE: a stuffed elephant for their first Valentine’s, and a jewelry box for her 21st birthday. Robin mentions that she gave these two items to charity in TB.

  7. Louise Freeman says

    In CoE, Strike teases Robin about having a pony as a child, and she responds that he would break any horse but a Clydesdale. In TB, he teases her about riding donkeys at the beach, and she responds by telling him he’s too big.
    Robin and Strike also road-trip to seaside town (Barrow-in-Furness, Skegness) in both books, and eat fish and chips together.
    Also, in Barrow-in-Furness, Robin and Strike hear the locals singing the school song at their friend’s funeral, and Strike thinks about his Uncle Ted, what his eventual funeral would be like, and hoped it would be many years in the future. This could be seen as both a foreshadowing and an inversion of Joan’s life being cut unexpectedly short in Troubled Blood, and Strike being given the responsibility of making sure her last wishes are respected.

  8. Louise Freeman says

    A few more:

    Both books have old ladies with tartan shopping carts. (How common are tartan shopping carts in the UK?)

    References to suspects pimping out their wives/partners (Gwilherm and Whittaker).

    May be a stretch, but Brittany Brockbank is described as looking like a yellow budgerigar. Budgerigars are also in Samhaim’s and Deborah’s apartment

  9. Nick Jeffery says

    I was about to comment that tartan shopping trollies are pretty ubiquitous in the UK, but that was probably true 30-40 years ago. I think they have become a stereotype for older ladies, present more in theory than practice. In the spirit of research I kept look out for one today (small rural market town), and not one sighting.

  10. Louise Freeman says

    Another link: Robin speaks to a prostitute in the course of the investigation in both books. In CoE, the working girl is very young: “barely legal.” In TB, the woman is very old. In both cases, Robin cannot hide her expression of dismay over what the woman was forced to do: Stephanie’s “servicing” the band, Betty’s anal injury.

  11. Louise Freeman says

    I am re-listening to CoE now and a couple of more parallels jumped out at me.

    CoE: Drunk on wine, Robin is forced to acknowledge to herself that Strike is her best friend in London. TB: Drunk on whiskey, Strike acknowledges Robin as his “best mate.”

    CoE: Robin realizes abused woman Holly Brockbank is “drinking herself into an early grave.” TB: Gloria tells us that Luca Ricci’s abused wife “drank herself to death at 39.”

  12. Louise Freeman says

    Another: Both books end the mystery story with Strike musing about his mother. In CoE, after Donald Laing insults Leda, Strike responds with “Maybe so, but she loved me.” In TB, he is looking at a seascape, remembering Joan, and wishing he could hear her tell him she is proud of him one last time. Note that CoE, it’s his biological mother; in TB, it’s the aunt that he acknowledged was as good as a mother to him.

  13. Louise Freeman says

    Something I just picked up on: another similarity between Robin’s drunken confession in CoE and the “Best Mate” conversation in TB. In both, Robin’s face is in bad shape. CoE talks about how terrible she looks after all the crying over Matthew, and her eyes are described as “puffy” despite her efforts to soothe them with cold water and ice. Her eyes are puffy for a different reason in TB, and she again uses an icepack. In CoE, Robin thinks, “Strike was her best friend in London. She had never looked that fact squarely in the face before.” In TB, it takes Strike accidently hitting her squarely in the face to get him to acknowledge her as his “best mate.”

  14. Louise Freeman says

    Another parallel: Self-satisfied, a-hole guy is sitting, and stretches his arms over his head, lifting his T-shirt to show off his muscular belly, in hopes that a nearby woman will admire it.

    CoE: Alone, Matthew stretched, his T-shirt riding up out of his jeans to reveal a few inches of flat stomach and drawing the attention of the girl serving behind the Costa Coffee bar. Feeling good about himself and life, Matthew grinned and winked at her.

    TB: Morris stretched luxuriously on the sofa, arms over his head, and said through a yawn, “Not often you get the chance to make three women miserable at once, is it?”
    “Not to mention the husband,” said Robin, looking at the handsome profile of the commodity broker’s husband, silhouetted against a streetlamp as he made his way back to the family car.
    “Well, yeah,” said Morris, holding his stretch, “him too.” His T-shirt had ridden up, exposing an expanse of toned abdomen, a fact of which Robin thought he was probably well aware.

  15. Love it!

  16. Louise Freeman says

    As has been pointed out before, we did not get music lyrics as epigraphs in TB, as we did in CoE. But, we do have a character obsessed with music. Margot Bamborough had the same almost religious devotion to Joni Mitchell as Leda had for Blue Oyster Cult. Laing , though he was initially not fond of them. became obsessed with the music, and used it as a way to get inside Strike’s head. Robin didn’t care for Joni at her first listen, but gradually learned to like her more and used the music as a way of getting in Margot’s head.

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