Lethal White (novel)

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Lethal White
Lethal White UK cover. Color scheme is white, black, and green. Elizabeth Tower is in the background and the back of two figures, one male and one female, are in the foreground on the right.
Author Robert Galbraith
Country United Kingdom
Language English[1]
Genre Crime fiction
Publisher Sphere Books
(Little, Brown and Company)
Publication date
18 September 2018 (United Kingdom)
Pages 656[2]
ISBN 0751572853
Preceded by Career of Evil

Lethal White is the fourth novel in the Cormoran Strike series, written by J. K. Rowling and published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.[3][4][5] The novel was released on 18 September 2018.[6]


Lethal White is preceded by The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil;[7][8][5][9] there are tentative plans to follow it with at least five more stories.[10][11][12][13] Rowling announced completion of the manuscript on 23 March 2018, after approximately two years of writing.[3][14][15] The book released on 18 September 2018.[6] The book will follow the eponymous private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott and is the longest in the series thus far.[16][14] The story will begin immediately after the conclusion of Career of Evil without any gap or delay, and there will be no need of flashbacks in order to bridge the two plots.[4] The official Robert Galbraith website posted a picture of an undercover story involving Robin in an office setting, a plot-line which may appear in Lethal White.[17]


One year after the events of Career of Evil, Cormoran Strike has grown his detective agency to the point where he can hire more investigators. He receives an unsolicited visit from Billy Knight, a young man with a history of mental illness who claims to have witnessed a murder the body buried in the woods, but is unable to provide any details before he runs out of Strike's office. While trying to establish Billy's identity, Strike meets his older brother Jimmy and Jimmy's girlfriend Flick Purdue. Jimmy and Flick are radical left-wing activists opposed to London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games who claim Billy is unstable and unreliable.

Strike's meeting with Jimmy does not go unnoticed. He is approached by Jasper Chiswell, a mercurial and scandal-plagued Member of Parliament serving as the Minister for Culture. Chiswell claims to have been blackmailed by Jimmy and hires Strike to investigate. He identifies Geraint Winn, husband of Minister for Sport Della Winn, as Jimmy's likely partner; where Jimmy wants money, Geraint wants to destroy Chiswell's career. Chiswell does not reveal what he is accused of, but does not deny their allegations and instead claims that what he did was legal at the time. He asks Strike to find something he can use to mitigate the threat.

Strike places Robin Ellacott undercover in Chiswell's office to carry out surveillance on Geraint. Robin, unhappily married to Matthew Cunliffe for a year, eagerly accepts, but the assignment places strain on her marriage. While undercover, she meets Chiswell's hard-working but under-appreciated daughter Isabella; his illegitimate son Raphael, who was recently released from prison after killing a woman in a traffic accident; and his unstable and histrionic young wife Kinvara. After discreetly placing bugs in Geraint's office, Robin uncovers evidence that Geraint has been embezzeling money from his wife's charities. Chiswell uses this knowledge to stop Geraint's blackmail, but Strike inadvertently invites media scrutiny when he stops Jimmy, Flick and the activists from humiliating Chiswell at a charity event.

Chiswell invites Strike and Robin to a house he keeps in the city for business, intending to fire them for the incident with the activists. Robin finds his body in the study, having died of suffocation and an overdose of anti-depressants. The Metropolitain Police rule his death a suicide, but Isabella is convinced that her father was murdered and that Kinvara is responsible, and so hires Strike to investigate. He is frustrated by the way Isabella and the wider Chiswell family keep interfering in the investigation and redirect his attention to Kinvara, who they believe is trying to steal what remains of the family fortune away from them. As Strike looks into the blackmail case, he becomes convinced that it is connected to Chiswell's death. He eventually learns that Chiswell and Jimmy and Billy Knight's father Jack were building gallows for export until the Brirish government banned the sale of torture and execution equipment made in Britain. Two of these gallows were sold to Zimbabwe, where one was stolen by rebels and used in the murder of a teenager. A carving of the White Horse of Uffington in the wood link the gallows to Chiswell.

Meanwhile, Robin is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after her encounter with the Shacklewell Ripper and her husband Matthew continues to interfere in her business relationship with Strike. Robin ends their marriage when she finds proof that he has been having an affair. Strike counsels her, drawing on his own experience of losing a leg to help her address her mental health. The two are forced to confront their personal feelings for one another, particularly after the reappearance of Strike's ex-girlfriend Charlotte Ross.

The investigation into Chiswell's death leads Strike to Chiswell's will. Knowing that his marriage was ending, Chiswell wrote Kinvara out of the will and bequeathed everything to his ten year-old grandson, but allowed Kinvara to continue living on the family estate for the rest of her life. Strike realises that Chiswell was careless and omitted certain items from the will, including a diamond necklace that is the last thing of any value to the family, meaning that legally they are Kinvara's. Kinvara is unable to sell the necklace as the Chiswell family are watching her, but Strike suspects there are other items of value Chiswell overlooked. He is drawn to a painting titled Mare Mourning and learns that it may be a lost George Stubbs artwork depicting a mare mourning a foal that died of lethal white syndrome. If its provenance were to be established, it would be worth over twenty million pounds.

Strike deduces that Flick Purdue posed as Chiswell's cleaner and learned of the sale of the gallows. She told Jimmy, who then tried to blackmail him for his family's share of the profits. When Chiswell refused, Jimmy turned to Geraint Winn, who blamed Chiswell for his daughter Rhiannon's suicide after Rhiannon was humiliated by Chiswell's deceased son Freddie. Chiswell's killer planned to drive him to suicide to escape financial pressures, his turbulent family life and the upcoming gallows scandal, but with Strike revealing Geraint's crimes, the killer was forced to act directly. This led to several mistakes that Strike uses to focus on the killer: Raphael. Having never been accepted by the family and living in Freddie's shadow, Raphael sought revenge against the family. He conspired with Kinvara to kill Chiswell before the provenance of Mare Mourning could be established and Chiswell's will amended. Raphael seduced Kinvara, then tipped Flick Purdue off about the cleaning job, knowing that she would find out about the gallows and tell Jimmy. Kinvara confesses to her role, but Raphael lures Robin into a trap by posing as Matthew and seeking reconciliation. He interrogates her about the state of their investigation and Robin stalls for time by outlining everything in detail and predicting his plan to kill Kinvara. Strike realises his duplicity when he recognises that Raphael’s text messages from "Matthew" came from a disposable mobile phone used in the blackmail case. The Metropolitan Police raid the houseboat he is hiding on and arrest him.

In the aftermath, Strike and Robin approach Billy Knight to discuss the murder he witnessed. With Isabella's testimony, Strike reveals that Billy was drugged by Freddie and Jimmy and that Freddie choked a young Raphael until he passed out. The body Billy saw being buried was the body of a horse Freddie killed in a separate act of cruelty. While Isabella defends Freddie's memory, Strike privately reflects on the way the upper classes defend their own from the indefensible. With Billy finally able to reconcile his memories, Strike and Robin leave together.

In other media[edit]

Rowling has confirmed that Lethal White will be adapted as part of the television series starring Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike and Holiday Grainger as Robin Ellacott.[18]

On 10 December 2014, it was announced that the novels would be adapted as a television series for BBC One, starting with The Cuckoo's Calling.[19][20] Rowling will executive produce the series through her production company Brontë Film and Television, along with Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts. The three event dramas will be based on scripts by Ben Richards, who will write The Cuckoo's Calling, and Tom Edge. who will write The Silkworm and Career of Evil. Michael Keillor will direct The Cuckoo's Calling, Kieron Hawkes will direct The Silkworm, and Charles Sturridge will direct Career of Evil. Jackie Larkin will produce.[21]

In September 2016, it was announced that Tom Burke was set to play Cormoran Strike in Strike, [22] and in November 2016 it was announced that Holliday Grainger will star as Strike's assistant, Robin Ellacott. [23]


ISBN: 0751572853; (ISBN13: 9780751572858). [24]

  1. ^ "Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  2. ^ "Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  3. ^ a b "JK Rowling finishes new Strike book Lethal White". Metro. 2018-03-26. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  4. ^ a b "Everything We Know About Lethal White So Far – StrikeFans.com". strikefans.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  5. ^ a b Goodman, Jessica (2015-04-24). "JK Rowling Will Release Another Book, 'Career Of Evil,' As Robert Galbraith". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  6. ^ a b "Lethal White: JK Rowling reveals Strike release date". BBC. 2018-07-10. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  7. ^ "The Strike Series – Robert Galbraith". robert-galbraith.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  8. ^ "JK Rowling goes fourth as she announces crime novel is finished - Sunday Post". Sunday Post. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  9. ^ "BBC - Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger to return in Strike - Career Of Evil in 2018 - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  10. ^ "J.K. Rowling has seven books planned for Cormoran Strike series". EW.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  11. ^ "J.K. Rowling to Write a Lot More Cormoran Strike Novels". Time. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  12. ^ "J.K. Rowling may write up to 7 Cormoran Strike books". Hypable. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  13. ^ "J.K. Rowling teases Cormoran Strike Book #3's plot, says 6 more coming". Hypable. 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  14. ^ a b "Cormoran Strike Book 4: J.K. Rowling offers release date update". Hypable. 2018-03-23. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  15. ^ "JK Rowling has completed the next Strike novel". Radio Times. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  16. ^ "J.K. Rowling used a color-coding system to map out her next novel". The Daily Dot. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  17. ^ "Lethal White: What We Can Expect". www.hogwartsprofessor.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  18. ^ https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-03-20/strike-lethal-white-bbc-tv-novel-jk-rowling/
  19. ^ "BBC - Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike novels to be adapted for major new BBC One drama series - Media Centre". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  20. ^ Nancy Tartaglione. "JK Rowling's 'Cuckoo's Calling' To Become BBC Drama Series". Deadline. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  21. ^ http://www.brontefilmandtv.co.uk/work
  22. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-37296931
  23. ^ http://www.brontefilmandtv.co.uk/single-post/2016/11/04/Holliday-Grainger-Joins-Tom-Burke-for-BBC-and-HBOs-Strike-Series
  24. ^ "Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2018-07-12.