JK Rowling’s under fire this week after it was revealed that the main character in her new novel, Troubled Blood, is a male serial killer named Dennis Creed who dresses up in a woman’s coat and wig to get away with entering “female spaces” so he can murder them. The characterization has faced accusations of transphobia due to the fact that Rowling herself has made questionable comments in the past regarding transgender people’s right to enter certain gendered spaces based on how they personally identify.
Rowling defended her novel’s plot by claiming that the story line is based on two real-life murders. The novel was released this week and after a review from Telegraph, the internet exploded with accusations of transphobia, ignorance, and general disregard for the community Rowling has been adamantly debating with for months.
In the book, Creed lures his victims into his van by wearing women’s clothing, however, the novel never describes him as trans or as a cross-dresser, so the lines have been blurred for some reviewers. As previously mentioned Rowling also revealed this week that Creed was “loosely based on real-life killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams.”
Brudos killed four women in Oregon in the 1960’s and was known for stealing female underwear from his neighbours as a child; a characteristic Rowling also gave to Creed. According to past reports from Brudos’ killings, there was evidence of a “large man dressed in women’s clothing in a garage” where Brudos would later kidnap one of his victims. Williams murdered two women and was sentenced to life in prison ten years ago. He also was known for stealing female undergarments.
According to Rowling, trans issues aren’t even part of the books plotline, and instead the main themes regard personal journeys and struggles with feminist ideals.
“Change, loss and absence are the biggest themes of the book, but it also explores the changing face of feminism and ideals and stereotypes of femininity … through the cast of characters.”
The novel follows private detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott as they investigate the case of Margot Bamborough, who vanished 10 years prior. Bamborough is described as a feminist who was approaching her 30s, in the midst of a divorce and navigating motherhood.
“It’s my favorite of the series by far and I think the length is necessary to do the story justice.”
This is the fifth installment in the Strike series and runs just over 900 pages long. According to Rowling, she always knew the book would be lengthy and because the investigation is meant to take place over the course of one year, she wanted to make sure the story was developed enough to read as such.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.