Featured in the February 2020 issue of The Rowling Library Magazine.

Troubled Blood

935 words.
By Belén Salituri.

It was one of the articles of the January issue of The Rowling Library Magazine. J.K. Rowling returned to Twitter (her only social account, so far) to share with all her fans that she had finished the fifth novel of the Cormoran Strike series. She uploaded a photo of the manuscript, without making it clear if she had finished the first manuscript version or the final one, but it was good news for the fans of Robert Galbraith’s books. Let’s remember that The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first novel in the series, was published in 2013, followed by The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015) and Lethal White (2018). The three-year gap between the third and fourth book can be easily explained by the writing of the Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child screenplays.

But since January 25th (the day Rowling shared the manuscript picture) we did not have to wait even a full month to know more about the fifth book. On February 19th, Little, Brown revealed that the fifth part is going to be titled Troubled Blood and it will hit shelves in the United Kingdom and United States of America on September 29th, 2020 – just seven months away from now. Besides the title and the release date, the publisher only shared a promotional image that follows the spirit of the previous covers (although not the original ones, but the last designs), and nothing else. “Cover to be revealed” can be read on this image, and although fans can’t wait to see it, we doubt it includes any clues about the plot of the book. The artwork for the previous books never shared anything that could hint what was going to happen in the story, and we don’t think this time will be different.

However, some online bookshops shared links to pre-order a copy as soon as the official announcement was up on Twitter and Facebook (of course, they knew it beforehand). What is interesting is that from those pre-order pages we were able to get a bit more information from the book. The first one was Waterstones, the bookshop chain from the United Kingdom, who is offering the hardback copy (the only one available so far) with a discount. They displayed the number of pages as 348, which seemed very short for a book. Rowling has said on Twitter that the fifth book in the Strike series was not going to be as long as Lethal White, but less than 400 pages is too short. We spoke directly to Little, Brown and they confirmed to us that 348 was not the correct number of pages. A few days later, Waterstones updated the page count and now it matches with the one displayed by Amazon – so we can assume Troubled Blood will definitely have 784 pages.

Waterstones was also the only one who shared a small fragment from the synopsis, while other bookshops just mentioned that “Troubled Blood is the next thrilling instalment in the highly acclaimed, international bestselling series featuring Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott, written by Robert Galbraith, a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling.” Waterstones added that “Building on the series’ central relationship between Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacot, Troubled Blood is sure to delight Galbraith’s army of loyal fans”, so will Troubled Blood be the definitive book about the couple?

As soon as the title was revealed, we checked when it was registered. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has a trademark filed for Troubled Blood in September 2019, a few months ago, by the legal company that handles all Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s requests. So we can assume Rowling had the idea for the title a few months before, considering she doesn’t register every title she comes up with and only the one that is going to be used. One can think that Troubled Blood, as a phrase, is highly related to the Harry Potter Universe (from Mud-bloods to the blood protection from Lily that allowed Harry to survive), so it is interesting that Rowling didn’t care about the connection and continued with her idea for this title.

Troubled blood, also, seems related to Cormoran Strike and the relationship with his mother and his father, Jonny Rokeby, the frontman of the 1970s rock band The Deadbeats. There was something interesting these past days, too. Musician Marilyn Manson shared on Instagram that Rowling sent a bouquet of red roses to him – but the reasons are unknown. Is it possible that Manson helped Rowling with the Rokeby character? As some people noticed at HogwartsProfessor.com, “troubled” and “blood” references appear in Marilyn Manson’s song “Mind of a Lunatic”, so maybe there is a connection after all. We will have to wait a few months, though, to confirm or deny these theories. As Rowling did with Lethal White, the title could be a reference not only to the main plot Strike is investigating, but also to the background plot, his relationship with his family and Robin Ellacott as well.

From the title, it looks as if this fifth installment will be a dramatic and dark one. As we said before, when we read “troubled blood”, our minds immediately drifted to Cormoran Strike’s lineage, and his relationship with his mother and father. We expect this upcoming novel to be at the same level of intrigue, mystery and character development as the last one. Personally, Rowling’s career turned a turn for the better with the Strike series, after The Casual Vacancy and the scripts for FB, so we hope Robert Galbraith delivers a great story when Troubled Blood hits the bookstores in September.