“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 16: “Harry Potter and the Detective Ring”

Harry Potter is the perfect mystery! Discover the detective rings of Harry Potter on this month’s episode.



In hindsight, we can find elements of detective crime fiction in the Harry Potter series, especially since J.K. Rowling has now transitioned to writing that genre. This episode’s guest, Brett Fish, explains that we can learn a lot about the Harry Potter books by viewing them as mysteries that pose questions and reveal important clues within a ring (or “turtle-back”) structure. When combining the two approaches of detective novels and ring composition, J.K. Rowling demonstrates the effective literary use of the ring to provide satisfying mysteries and resolutions.

Explore the major mystery plots of the books and how their structure leads to the reader’s eventual enlightenment. Readers are directed to unknown truths through Harry’s detective work in each book and across the series. No one is better at planting clues than Rowling. The “turn” or middle of the series (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), as well as central chapters in each book, reveals elements of the mystery directing us toward essential revelations. Narrative slow release and narrative misdirection (red herrings) serve as useful techniques as Rowling plots out her stories. Brett also suggests that Albus Dumbledore is both detective and culprit in the series – join us to find out why!

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Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.