Is Strike: Troubled Blood a true story? Real events that inspired JK Rowling book, what happened to Margot

J.K. Rowling crime novel Troubled Blood, the basis for BBC crime series, was inspired by two real life serial killers
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Troubled Blood is the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike detective series, written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. The novel has been adapted into season five of Strike on BBC One, airing this month.

Rowling, once a popular children’s author, has found herself a controversial figure in the literary world because of her gender critical views, said that one character in the novel was inspired by two real serial killers.

Kenneth Cranham plays Dennis Creed in Strike: Troubled BloodKenneth Cranham plays Dennis Creed in Strike: Troubled Blood
Kenneth Cranham plays Dennis Creed in Strike: Troubled Blood

What is Troubled Blood about?

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The novel follows Strike as he visits his sick aunt in Cornwall, where he is met by a woman who requests his help in solving the disappearance of her mother, Margot Bamborough, a GP who went missing more than 30 years ago.

Strike and Robin take on the cold case and discover that the person behind the missing GP may be responsible for a string of murders. The main suspect in their case is Dennis Creed, a serial killer currently incarcerated at Broadmoor Hospital for his crimes.

Is Troubled Blood based on a true story?

J.K. Rowling said that the character of Dennis Creed was loosely based on the real-life serial killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams. Brudos, known as the Shoe Fetish Slayer, was an American serial killer and necrophile known to have killed at least four women in Oregon in the 1960s.

He abducted and murdered his victims by bludgeoning or strangling them. In some cases he dressed the women in different clothes after he had killed them and had sex with their bodies. He also cut off parts of his victim’s bodies. During one attack, he was dressed in women’s clothes.

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Brudos was eventually arrested and confessed to the killings - he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for his crimes and was told he would never be eligible for parole. He died in prison in Oregon in 2006, aged 67.

Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger in Troubled BloodTom Burke and Holliday Grainger in Troubled Blood
Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger in Troubled Blood

Williams is a British Canadian double murderer and rapist and was also a colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces. Williams broke into dozens of homes with the intention of stealing women’s and girl’s underwear, and later began committing sexual assaults.

Williams’ crimes escalated and he killed two women - police caught him after the disappearance of a woman named Jessica Lloys, whom he had killed. He was questioned for 10 hours and admitted to several crimes.

Following a search of his home, police found images of Williams’ victims and of him wearing their underwear. In 2010 he was given two life sentences to be served concurrently and told he would not be eligible for parole for 25 years. Now aged 59, he is serving his sentence at Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec.

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The character of Dennis Creed in Troubled Blood is a British serial killer imprisoned at Broadmoor mental hospital. He had abducted, raped, tortured and killed seven women - he beheaded his victims after killing them.

Strike believes that the missing GP was another of Creed’s victims and they speak to him to try and find out more. In the novel, Creed dresses in women’s clothes and a wig to trick his victims before abducting them, as Brudos did in one case.

Rowling’s novel caused controversy on its publication as some believed that her characterisation of Creed demonised trans people, and suggested that the author’s gender critical views were represented in the plot.

What happened to Margot in Troubled Blood?

*Spoilers for Troubled Blood*

While Strike and Robin suspect that Margot was killed by Creed, as he was active in the same area that she disappeared, it is revealed towards the end of the novel that this was not the case.

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Margot was killed by a nurse named Janice at the clinic where she worked. Janice was responsible for several killings over many years - she poisoned her victims who included her own patients, a young neighbour, and even her own son. Janice killer Margot because Margot began to suspect her.

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