C.B. Strike Books Parallel the Harry Potter Series

Of late (2023), J.K. Rowling has made some ignorant and hurtful statements regarding trans and nonbinary folks and issues. Nevertheless, she’s a good writer. Her characters and stories have a way of sticking and percolating in my thoughts. As the elements of the stories have jumbled in my mind, the parallels have stuck together.

Here are similarities between the C.B. Strike detective books & the Harry Potter series.

Strike is like Mad Eye Moody:

  • Law enforcement/investigator type.
  • Missing leg, carries a stick – and…
  • Facial damage – from…
  • Rough past.
  • Powerful & dangerous despite handicaps.
  • Cantankerous & private personality.
  • Paranoid (because they are out to get him).
  • Highly competent.
  • Rough & dangerous when threatened but uses the potential for violence only to fight baddies and protect what’s right.

Shanker is like Mundungus Fletcher:

  • Lowlife active criminal from the wrong side of the tracks.
  • But ultimately redeemable with loyalty to the hero and the causes of justice.

Scotland Yard/MET is like the Ministry of Magic:

  • Bungling & deluded officialdom is supposed to be on the right side but can’t be trusted.
  • Hampered by law, ulterior motives, politics, ego, and stupidity, unable to do what’s required.
  • Has an ambiguous, sometimes helpful, sometimes very unhelpful, relationship to the main character.
  • Government can’t be trusted. Ultimately, it is principled individuals and small groups, acting independently of government, that must set things right.
  • (These themes draw back from Sherlock Holmes too, of course.)

CB Strike agency is like The Order of the Phoenix:

  • Fighting the good fight & not constrained by law or public perception.
  • Therefor able to achieve necessary good ends by breaking law, using deception, or otherwise morally questionable means.
  • Shows up the bungling, misguided, legally & politically constrained officialdom.
  • Work underground out of public or official view, even out of view of the reader when necessary to enhance mystery.
  • Must actually (at least sometimes) fight officialdom to achieve good.

Strike is like Dumbledore:

  • Has an uncanny way of learning the truth about baddies, their motives, means, & activities.
  • “Guesses” (usually correctly) with great intuition when confronted with ambiguity.
  • Has a “healthy” disrespect for legal constraints.
  • Cares nothing for public opinion, fame, or notoriety.
  • Source of wisdom (ie, teaches Robin how it’s done).
  • You wonder about what he’s up to sometimes but, ultimately, he embodies absolute good.
  • May be a little crazy.

Strike is like Harry Potter:

  • Hero who wins in the end.
  • Orphan who was mistreated as a child.
  • Orphan whose mother was killed by a baddy.
  • Sought solace, home, and order from bad childhood in a regimented institution (Army vs. Hogwarts).
  • Great courage.
  • Good instincts.
  • Doesn’t always know his feelings but muddles through.
  • Often incompetent in matters of women and love but has good intentions and is ultimately redeemed.
  • Struggles against great adversity to serve others and the common good.
  • Source of knowledge (ie, teaches Robin how it’s done).
  • Fierce & loyal friend.
  • Stoically endures social and official opprobrium but recognized and celebrated in the end of each book as the hero who saves the day – only to be suspect again in the next!

Robin is like Hermione:

  • Whip-smart & talented at investigation even without training.
  • Has an almost magical way of getting hard things done (because she’s so smart and talented).
  • Morally very good; always wants to do the right thing and expects the same from others. (Rowling said Robin is the most lovable character she’s written.)
  • Tougher than you’d think and mostly capable of defending herself…
  • But vulnerable & capable of mistakes that require rescue by other courageous (male) characters (Strike or Shanker).

Strike is like Hagrid:

  • Physically bear-like, large and imposing and…
  • Capable of great violence but, ultimately, a teddy bear who’s totally on the side of good.
  • Hairy.
  • Fears little.
  • Not too physically nice looking but magnetic & sexy despite it.
  • Orphan with a difficult past.
  • Sought solace, home, and order in a regimented institution (Army, Hogwarts).
  • Has and uses powers that he’s not supposed to (and must hide).
  • Is capable of dealing both physically and emotionally with nasty and scary things that most people shrink from and doing so in a heroic way.

Srike’s suspects and murderers are like Voldemort:

  • It’s a story of good vs. bad and the baddies are truly bad. Serial murderers and such. No ambiguity there.

Mathew is like Lavender Brown:

  • Diversionary love-interest to a main character, drawing them away from the rightful love interest.
  • Shallow and not entirely likeable, therefor clearly unsuitable.
  • Exhibits loathsome behavior.
  • Main character inexplicably attached despite clear disadvantages while seemingly fated for another main character.
  • Ultimately doomed to get what they deserve.

Finally, both sets of books are at once exceptionally imaginative and derivative. The C.B. Strike series draws heavily on innumerable tropes of the detective genre going back to Sherlock Holmes, if not before. Potter unfolds within a giant mish-mash of elements associated with stories of magic in western culture.

The set of characters in C.B. Strike is limited compared to Potter, with some characters being composites of Potter characters as I’ve laid out. Not everything is common. I’m unable to find parallels to Ron, the Hogwarts teachers, etc.. Still, you may agree, the parallels are striking. J.K. Rowling may, ultimately, only be capable of writing about one overall set of themes and characters. But an engaging and entertaining set it is.