‘Well,’ said Robin, taking a large slurp of wine, ‘consider my morale boosted.’
Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith
The cases Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike investigate lead them both into dark places, so what keeps them going? As spring unfolds hopefully around us, we’re looking at what gives the detectives the motivation and resilience to continue to follow their calling through all seasons.
Discovering a Vocation
‘She couldn’t understand a vocation. Some people can’t; at best, work’s about status and pay cheques for them, it hasn’t got value in itself.’
The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
Robin is working for Temporary Solutions, planning on a career in Human Resources and marriage to Matthew when the Lula Landry case opens, but her excitement and happiness working for Strike reminds her she once had a calling. Before she gave up her psychology degree she dreamt of working as an investigator, and once she discovers she has the talent, bravery and drive necessary, she can never go back. Strike recognises her talents and encourages her, and discovers she is an asset that it would be impossible to replace. Robin shows a new determination to take control of her own fate when she presents Strike with the case for her future employment.
Strike’s vocation always frustrated his one time fiancée, Charlotte, but even his injury in Afghanistan has not lessened his commitment to uncovering truth and unravelling complex mysteries. He pushes himself past his physical limits, and works on Christmas Day in spite of being ill and alone, but his work is his vocation, his pride and his greatest achievement.
‘You really did an incredible thing, there,’ said Linda. ‘You and, er … Cormoran.’ ‘Thanks, Mum,’ said Robin, as surprised as she was touched.
Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith
Both Strike and Robin’s families have struggled with the pair’s career choices and the danger the two detectives face. During the investigations into the disappearance of Margot Bamborough (Troubled Blood) both their families show they are proud of them too. In her last days, Strike gets to spend precious hours with Joan, the woman who brought him up whenever his own mother, Leda, disappeared off on her own adventures. He gets to hear her say how proud she is of him for helping people, and he has the chance to tell her how much he loves her in return. His only regret when the case is finally solved, is that he cannot tell Joan the end of the story.
Robin’s parents sent her an opal pendant for her thirtieth birthday and Robin, with the emotional messiness of her short marriage and divorce behind her, finds she can once again talk about nonsense with her mother. Like Strike, she also gets to hear that her family are proud of her remarkable successes and what she and Strike have managed to achieve.
‘How’s Morris?’ her mother asked, in a would-be casual tone. ‘Oh, we sacked him,’ said Robin cheerfully
Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith
As well as the complex and dark solutions to the most important mysteries they face, Robin and Strike have other smaller victories which are also very satisfying. When the malicious, manipulative and creepy Morris sneaks up on Robin while she is washing up, she reacts instinctively, breaking his nose and leaving the imprint of her stiletto heel on his boot. She, in front of Barclay and Strike gets to tell Morris exactly what she thinks of him and Strike backs her to the hilt.
Throughout the investigation into Lula Landry’s death (Cuckoo’s Calling), Strike is fighting to keep his creditors off his back and the most persistent is Peter Gillespie who seems to enjoy hounding him with calls demanding payment. The loan in question was from Jonny Rokeby, famous rock musician and Strike’s biological father. Strike is glad to tell Gillespie what he thinks of him and his father, but only at the end of investigation is he in the happy position to pay him back. As the case has brought Strike renown, it seems his famous father has suddenly become a lot more reasonable about the loan. Listening to Robin telling Gillespie in her most cheerful manner that Mr Strike would much rather pay it off as quickly as possible must be as satisfying as telling Gillespie what he could do with his earlier threats to sue.
Finding the truth
‘No good mentor would deprive you of the satisfaction of working it out for yourself. Any biscuits left?’
Lethal White – Robert Galbraith
Each time Robin and Strike begin an investigation, large or small, they are searching for the truth and each time their discoveries cause ripples in the lives of others. Lieutenant Agyeman discovers he is suddenly rich, (Cuckoo’s Calling), ‘Mrs Tufty’ finds she is married to a serial bigamist and starts appearing in the media to tell everyone about it, and the brilliancy of the agency (Troubled Blood). Often though the satisfaction which comes from finding the truth is two-fold. Robin and Strike have the release and intellectual pleasure which comes from finding a solution, and they take professional pride in their achievements. They also get to witness how the answers they find offer a path for healing. Strike manages to trick information out of notorious serial killer, Dennis Creed, which brings peace to the father of a murdered child, and with Robin also brings peace to the child of a murdered mother. Over cake and tea they see first hand how she is rebuilding a fuller relationship with her father and step-mother. ‘You don’t know what you’ve given me,’ Anna says. She’ll even have the locket her mother wore returned to her, with her own picture inside (Troubled Blood). Robin and Strike help end Billy Knight’s paranoid nightmares so he can eat his soup in what seems a peaceful, even happy state, so different from the distress in which Strike first met him (Lethal White), and through bravery and brilliance make sure Orlando, (also known as Dodo) will not be separated from her mother (The Silkworm).
‘If I’ve taken you for granted,’ said Strike, ‘I’m sorry. You’re the best I’ve got.’
Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith
The dynamics of the friendship between Cormoran and Robin are complicated from the start, but Robin’s kindness and Strike’s honesty mean that they come to know and trust each other deeply, so that by the end of the Margot Bamborough investigation Strike can tell Robin she is his best friend and Robin can say the same back to him. Both of them draw on other friendships too. Dave Poleworth Strike’s oldest friend, proves there is a lot more to their friendship than occasional pints at Strike’s Cornish local, The Victory Inn. When Strike has to make it through the floods to see Joan, Dave recruits a team of ex-schoolfriends and lifeguards to get Strike and his sister, Lucy, across the storm-ravaged peninsular to St Mawes, using dinghies to cross the flooded fields with torches and compasses. Robin slowly expands her own circle of friends as she gets used to London, starting with policewoman Vanessa Ekwensi and finds when she moves in with Max Priestwood after splitting from Matthew, not only a space of her own, and a dachshund called Wolfgang, but a friend who’ll end up sharing her thirtieth birthday dinner with her. Still, just as Robin and Strike’s professional partnership is what makes the Agency so successful, it is their friendship which sustains them both emotionally – laughing over takeaways in the office, picking apart a case, and sharing their triumphs, setbacks and secrets. Strike may be difficult at times, but he also knows what he has in Robin and will make efforts to preserve his relationship with her that he avoids in his romantic dealings. And he gets her a decent present for her thirtieth – a new perfume and champagne at the Ritz. Their friendship an uplifting experience for them and readers alike.