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Great stuff, thanks John! Now that we've read the first 6 chapters of Running Grave, I have some thoughts on possible equivalents for the "Raid on the Ministry, Recovery of Locket and Eye of Mad-Eye":

The UHC strike me as this book's equivalent of the Ministry of Magic - an organisation whose inner workings are not revealed to non-members, but who are accused of corruption. The trio's carefully-planned (by their standards!) infiltration of the Ministry headquarters (following a month of covert surveillance), I think will have its equivalent in Robin infiltrating the highly secure UHC farm in Norfolk.

As for recovering the locket and Mad-Eye's eye, those are harder to guess, but presumably they are one item that needs to be destroyed and one item that will help someone or some people see something fully, after which it can be peacefully buried. If the UHC farm - MoM headquarters are equivalent, then these two items are ones that Robin manages to take when she leaves. One that she will search for (the locket) - presumably something the clients want back. The other something she didn't expect to find but makes a rash/emotional decision to take (the eye) - perhaps something kept from the Norfolk cult that traumatized Strike as a child?

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Afternoon! This will be my first comment on this platform, let's see how it goes!

I find the Oakden theory intriguing, if only for the very astute observation about "oak names". I must however admit that I don't find him a plausible candidate for redemption, given the apparent lack of depth or ambiguity of his character. Unlike Snape, Mundungus and Kreacher, he doesn't seem to have any redeeming characteristics whatsoever. I have seen no hints that he may return. We'll see!

I have however tried to think back to when Harry first becomes saddled with caring for Kreacher after Sirius's death. I asked myself, has Strike become responsible for anyone's welfare after Joan's death? The obvious answer came back of Uncle Ted. There has already been an episode when Strike has failed/refused to make time to look after his uncle since he became widowed, and left it to Lucy instead.

Kreacher starts out an unpleasant character who becomes good through redemption. Maybe Uncle Ted will achieve redemption by revealing something terrible to Strike about his and Leda's past and allowing the mystery of her death to be finally solved. My personal theory, which I've described previously, is that Leda may have suffered abuse at the hands of her father and brother (in an echo of Stieg Larsson, whose novels intermittently crop up in the Strike series as various characters are shown to be reading them). Ted will reveal this to Strike at great personal cost, allowing the mystery to be solved and achieving redemption (remember Joan's last words? "Good man ... helping people ... I'm proud of you").

Anyway, just my musings. It's fun to speculate!

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