Robert Galbraith has expressed joy in setting the Strike books in the real world. Real-world events are scattered throughout the books. Some examples are William and Kate’s wedding in Career of Evil, the 2012 London Olympics in Lethal White, and the terrorist attacks in 2014/2015, which are mentioned in The Ink Black Heart.
The fifth book in the series, The Ink Black Heart, was mainly set in the first half of 2015, ending in late June 2015 (see our timeline). We know that the The Running Grave is at least partly set in the year 2016, so below is a timeline of some of the big news stories from 2016 that may or may not be mentioned in the upcoming sixth novel. Further down the page, you can also find a list of some of the music that was popular in 2016.
• MPs leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, and Corbyn reshuffles his party. We know J.K. Rowling herself was Tweeting a lot about Corbyn’s Labour leadership at the time, so it’s not unlikely that it will get a mention in the book.
• The Met Police announce that an additional 600 armed officers are to be trained to counter the threat of terrorist attacks in London. Terrorist attacks were a backdrop to The Ink Black Heart; terrorists killed a political artist, not dissimilar to the fictitious group The Halvening in the novel.
• 10 January: Music legend David Bowie dies.
• 14 January: Actor Alan Rickman dies.
• 3 February: High Court gives permission for Lord Lucan to be declared dead with a death certificate, 42 years after his disappearance. Lord Lucan is mentioned in Troubled Blood as disappearing a month after Margot Bamborough.
• 8 February: Chinese New Year, the Year of the Red Monkey. The red monkey is the 9th of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac cycle. The epigraphs for The Running Grave are all going to be from the I Ching, so it’s possible that other Chinese mythology makes it into the book.
• 8 February: Storm Imogen hits the UK – There were thousands of power outages and structural damage across the country. Robert Galbraith frequently mentions the weather throughout the books, such as the bad storms and floods in Troubled Blood and the heavy snowfall in The Silkworm. One popular theory about The Running Grave is that a dead body is found in water. This idea comes from the book title, J.K. Rowling’s Cromer headers on Twitter, and the recent header photo of a body in water. Could Storm Imogen be involved in a body washing up on a Norfolk beach?
• 20 February: Prime Minister David Cameron announces referendum for the UK’s European Union membership to be held on 23 June. The start of Brexit.
• 28 March: Storm Katie causes disruption through some parts of the UK during the Easter weekend. Another chance for a body to wash up on a beach?
• 15 April: EU membership referendum campaigns begin.
• 21 April: Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. The Royal Family has been mentioned occasionally in the books, so it’s always possible that Britain’s longest reigning monarch’s 90th birthday gets a mention.
• 7 May: Sadiq Khan replaces Boris Johnson as mayor of London.
• 3 June: Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali dies.
• 23 June: EU membership referendum.
• 24 June: The UK votes to leave the European Union. David Cameron announces his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and will step down as Prime Minister by October.
• 29 June: Vote of confidence against Jeremy Corbyn, but he still doesn’t resign as leader of the Labour Party.
• July 6: The augmented reality game Pokémon Go is released, breaking records and taking over lives. Just imagine Robin playing it in the car on surveillance to pass the time.
• 11 July: Theresa May is announced as Conservative Party leader.
• 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
• Flash flooding in parts of the UK.
• 8 November: Donald Trump elected as President of the United States of America.
• 16 November: Croydon train crash. Seven people died and 51 people were injured.
Another thing Robert Galbraith likes to do through the Strike books is add music. The popular hits of the time can really help transport you back to that year. Here are some number 1 hits in the UK in 2016 that could make it into the book:
• Rockabye by Clean Bandit
• Shout Out To My Ex by Little Mix
• Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur
• Closer by The Chainsmokers (feat Halsey)
• Cold Water by Major Lazer (feat Justin Beaber and MO)
• One Dance by Drake (feat WizKid and Kyla)
• 7 Years by Lukas Graham
• Pillowtalk by Zayn
• Stitches by Shawn Mendes
• Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
You can find a list of other popular songs in the UK in 2016 here.