Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #3: Parallels with Cuckoo’s Calling (and other Strike Books). More Spoilers.

Because of the many parallels between Philosopher’s Stone and Order of the Phoenix, Headmaster John has speculated we could see a lot fo echoes of Cuckoo’s Calling in Troubled Blood.  Did you find any?  If so, add them to the comments.  Somehow, I doubt we’ll break the Lethal White record, but who knows?

Spoilers after the jump.

The biggest one for me was the reversal of the CC opening.  Robin arrives at Denmark Street deliriously happy over being engaged to the Flobberworm, only to be knocked down and injured, accidentally, by Strike.  The opposite happens here— Cormoran accidentally hits Robin in the face at the American Bar, then, in the aftermath, she hears his declaration of friendship–  and explicitly thinks that this is the happiest she has been since the engagement.

There are others:  Cormoran getting drunk in front of Robin for only the second time, the mention of all 6 other Rokeby-spawn, the name Annabel (once Robin’s fake Australian identity to fool the temp agency, now her niece), but nothing as huge as the injury-reversal.

Add more the to comments, Strike-readers!


  1. Louise Freeman says

    Some more Cuckoo’s Calling echoes:
    Killer revealed to have started killing in childhood, and also to have drowned someone.
    Strike tapes killer’s confession by cell at the end.
    Strike is pestered by Rokeby-underlings, and a there is a reference to Rokeby being invited to insert his money into a particular body cavity and set it alight.
    There is a funeral and cremation.
    Norfolk commune is mentioned again as worst place Leda ever took them.
    Book ends with Strike getting Robin a gift.

  2. Another parallel: the surname Hickson. Here we have Irene Hickson, while in Cuckoo’s we have Marleen Hickson, Lula’s biological mom.

  3. Louise Freeman says

    Nice catch on the surname!
    When Talbot’s son says that it feels like his dad wants Strike to have the notebook, it sounds like John Bristow saying it felt like Charlie was wanting him to hire Strike.
    There was a reference to Strike being removed from an affluent private school, just like in CC (though we were told there that Shumba was the instigator, not Leda). Here, we learn that, apparently, these affluent schools happened twice. One was presumably the one where he met Charlie Bristow; I wonder if we will hear about the second in Book 7? I have an earlier post where I tried to piece some of the childhood transitions together:
    We also have nasty-but-wealthy John’s in the start of the series: John Bristow in CC, while John is one of the names the Bigamist goes by in TB.

  4. Louise Freeman says

    When Robin is in her Masham room disliking the Christmas perfume her mother got her, she muses “about the disparity between the way people would like to be seen, and the way others prefer to see them” This is a lot like her explanation of Johari’s window in CC: “how well we know ourselves, and how well others know us.”

  5. Two jumped out at me.
    — The killers in both books bear the same initials
    — Two witnesses who prove crucial to the case, Rochelle Onifade and Samhain Athorn, are described as having similar sounding, “rocking” gaits.

  6. CC features the engagements of both Robin Ellacott/Matthew Cunliffe and Charlotte Campbell/Jago Ross. TB contains the official dissolution of both relationships.
    Questionable pregnancies also figure in both books and lead to seismic relationship shifts — Charlotte’s possible one in CC, Sarah Shadlock’s more decisive one in TB.

  7. Another parallel I found:

    – In CC Lady Bristow, a woman who has no biological kids has uterine cancer. The same happens with Joan.

  8. Louise Freeman says

    Joan actually had ovarian, but it is certainly close. Great catch! Also, both women were cared for by very competent Macmillian nurses.

  9. In Cukoo’s Calling, the killer relied on a lot on luck, concocted a plan fairly last minute, and had already murdered in the past. The same is true for Troubled Blood, especially “luck” for finding a place to finish off Margot and dispose of the body with pretty minimal planning.

    It’s also true for most of the murders in Career of Evil, although the owner of the severed leg’s murder is more planned, but the other attacks are almost entirely crimes of opportunity.

    That’s opposed to books 2, The Silkworm, and 4, Lethal White, where the murders are meticulously planned to the detail over months or even years. Those killers had not murdered before.

    That gives us a pattern of odd numbered books for “devil may care” serial killers- murderers and an even pattern for the first time killer/detailed plan murderers. It’ll be interesting to see if the following books keep that pattern.

  10. Louise Freeman says

    Good call, Rebecca. The other, and perhaps related pattern is that odd numbers feature multiple dead women, while 2 and 4 have a single dead man. I guess Janice bumped off a few men, as well, but all the victims of crimes our heroes were actually trying to solve–Margo, Louise, Kara– were women. No one even suspected the male deaths weren’t natural causes until Janice started reviewing her photo spread with Strike.

  11. The most obvious similarity to me is the structure of the mystery.

    In CC, Cormoran tackles a cold case, and he painstakingly moves from witness to witness, gradually building up a picture of the murdered woman from all the pieces of the jigsaw he is given. He eventually works out that the killer someone we met very early in the story, one of the most unlikely people.

    All that is equally true of TB. In CC and TB, Strike and Robin re-construct her personality and her circumstances on their way to finding the killer.

  12. I was excited today while listening to the Glenister audio — I’m actually becoming quite fond of ‘Isla’ after repeated trips through the book ‘by ear’ — to make the connection between John Bristow’s murder of Rochelle Onifade by drowning her and Janice Beattie’s murder of the Red Cap rival, Julie Wilkes, by pulling her underwater in the pool. I resolved to write it up on this thread.

    Louise Freeman spotted that connection on the day of publication last month (!) and Michelle, three days later, notes the JB initial connection I should have noted and didn’t.

    Talk about ‘late to the party’! Great work here; I think the connection between Strikes 1 and 5 is pretty well established.

  13. Louise Freeman says

    One interesting connection to The Silkworm: Janice is pretty much the polar opposite of Leonora Quine. Leonora had a disabled daughter to whom she was devoted, even to the extent of putting up with an openly and publicly unfaithful husband for the daughter’s sake. Janice had a healthy son who she despised and even tried to kill. Leonora was falsely arrested for killing her husband, and even accused of being a “Rose West,” a notorious female serial killer, in the media. Janice was an actual notorious female serial killer who got away with it for decades, killing, among others, her common-law husband, who she merely suspected of infidelity based on some “looks” that passed between him and another woman at a party.

    A couple of others that I mistakenly put in the Philosopher’s Stone and other Harry Potter connections post.

    CC is the only other place where Strike’s fondness for Tom Waits is mentioned.

    If we want a connection to LW, we have Robin and Barclay “digging” up another body, and using almost the same language when prying up something heavy.
    Robin (in LW): “Come-on-you-bloody-thing”
    Barclay (in TB): “Come-oan-you-f****r”

    Another, very similar quip pairing involves eyerolls over “themes” that seem to be annoying our heroes by popping up excessively in the LW and TB mysteries, but that wind up providing an essential clue.

    The first happens when Strike asks Robin about whether the Mourning Mare is a piebald:
    “Seriously?” said Robin, in total disbelief. “Horse colors? Now?”
    The realization, of course, leads Strike to deduce the motive for murder.

    This is very similar to Strike’s “no more astrology, please” attitude when Robin makes the connection from M54 to Sagittarius to the Archer Hotel, which leads to the discovery of Louise Tucker’s body.

  14. Louise Freeman says

    Another interesting theme that is running through the series as a whole. The last two books have had a killer in some way related to a situation where a woman got pregnant specifically, , in hopes of trapping a man into marriage, but whose efforts were unsuccessful. Janice got pregnant with Kevin, who she did not want or love, in hopes that his father would marry her. Ornella got pregnant with Raff in hopes of becoming the next Mrs. Chiswell. This is even more interesting in light of Sarah Shagalot’s* intentional pregnancy to coerce Matthew into finalizing his divorce and marrying her, and the strong possibility that Leda tried the same thing with Jonny Rokeby.

    Expand on this theme some more, and you can see the reverse situation in CoE, with Donald Laing as a probable extramarital accident who did not actually break up his mother’s marriage, but suffered the wrath of both his mother and “father” as a result.

    Add that to John Bristow’s jealousy of his adopted siblings and Lady Bristow’s poor record as an adoptive mother, and we have Elizabeth Tassel, the “blameless spinster” as the only killer, so far, without definitive mommy issues.

    *interesting that Sarah chose to string boring old Tom Turvey along for almost a year and a half, especially given that he at least seemed to have some suspicions of her and the Flobberworm as far back as the housewarming party of LW. Did she just hope to collect some more diamond jewelry in the interim, while the 2 year clock ran out? You would think she, with her need to impress people, would have been at least a little embarrassed about building up to a January wedding with TT, which, knowing Sarah, was probably even a more lavish affair than Robin’s, calling it off with 4 weeks to go, then marrying Matthew just a few months later. Perhaps she was just planning to keep two sets of wedding presents. Though, if she really got pregnant in February, and they have to wait the two year separation is over in August, she isn’t going to get her wish of fitting into that designer gown.

  15. When John Bristow went to the office he explained how he had seen Strike’s name when looking for someone to help him, “you can perhaps imagine how it—well, it felt like—like a sign. A sign from Charlie. Saying I was right.” To which Strike hoped “that he had not been mistaken for a medium.” Much like when Anna approached Strike.

    The description of Strike’s first day at school with Dave Polworth in TB and with Charlie Bristow in CC are nearly identical. Dave and Charlie were popular kids with groups of friends who for some reason became best friends with the strange boy with the strange accent. Strike must have spent a lot of time in Cornwall to have developed a Cornish accent in those four or five years. He ended up in tears both times, for different reasons.

  16. Louise Freeman says

    Great connections, Karol! I had connected Bristow’s “sign” to the “sign” Talbot felt he got from his father (wanted Strike to have the notebook) but not the medium comment. The parallels between the initial friendships, followed by heartbreaking loss, of Dave and Charlie are great, too. Strike must have had great personal charisma, even as a child. He made instant best friends with boys as a kid, and, as adult, seems to have way more than his fair share of gorgeous and wealthy women who want to sleep with him.

    If we carry on with the “supernatural message from beyond” theme mentioned in other posts, we could add the Charlie Bristow one to the list. Only, instead of “Hey, John, hire my old best mate to find out who killed our sister” the message was “Hey, Corm, nail that bastard for shoving me into the quarry!” Or, even better, Charlie, from beyond the grave, duping his big brother into paying his old friend a large some of money (which arrived when Strike was desperate for it) to not only assure that John does not get Lula’s fortune, but to solve Charlie’s own murder as well. Talk about the perfect revenge. The money not only saved Strike’s business, but let him keep Robin.

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