The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith
Strike and Robin first meet on a day that is significant for them both, but for reasons that couldn’t be further apart.
Strike has broken up with his fiancée Charlotte, and this time it feels final. Meanwhile, Robin wakes up an engaged woman, the morning after Matthew’s romantic proposal. She’s more preoccupied with buying bridal magazines than the start of her new job.
The job is just a stop-gap. Robin’s a temp. And thanks to a mix-up, Strike doesn’t expect Robin to be there at all. Neither of them knows the true significance of their meeting: it’s the start of a working relationship that will change both their lives.
Troubled Blood, Robert Galbraith
The first case Robin works on begins with a visit from a prospective client to the office, John Bristow, whose brother, Charlie, Strike knew when they were children in London. Edie Ledwell also visits the office, though Pat, the office manager thinks she might be disturbed, and uses the codeword ‘Gateshead’ to warn Robin. Robin can’t help Edie then though, and the case only really begins after Edie’s tragic death in Highgate Cemetery, her life ending in the same place that inspired her successful cartoon, the Ink Black Heart. There is no Pat on duty when a disturbed client does turn up, only a temp called Denise, who is terrified by Jimmy White, and his confused tales of witnessing a murder which will plunge Robin and Strike into the world of the Chiswell family (Lethal White). The investigations will lead to Robin going undercover at the Houses of Parliament as the 2012 London Olympics unfold around them.
Cases don’t just start with a client visit to the office. The grisly package containing an amputated leg, which Robin collects from a courier at the door in Denmark Street is a threat which leads to an encounter with a monster, the Shacklewell Ripper (Career of Evil) and the long investigations into the disappearance of Margot Bamborough start with a woman, a visit to a medium, and a chance sighting in St Mawes, Cornwall (Troubled Blood). No matter when each case begins, there is no knowing where it will lead, what complex mysteries will be uncovered and what Robin and Strike will learn about themselves and each other in the process.
The Ink Black Heart, Robert Galbraith
Robin’s new profession leads to profound changes in her personal life. Working with Strike, she rediscovers her ambition and fascination with investigative work, which leads to strains in her relationship with Matthew. She begins to see if it weren’t for the trauma she suffered at university, they would have drifted apart years ago. Their wedding, instead of being a fresh start, only makes clear they want different things and the break comes after Robin finds Matthew has been unfaithful, discovering an earring in their bed (Lethal White). Robin begins a slow exhausting journey to independence while living with an actor friend of a friend, Max, and takes steps to deal with her PTSD in the wake of her encounter with the Shacklewell Ripper, using CBT exercises to control her anxiety. The parcel bomb which damages the office as they investigate Edie Ledwell’s desk also provides a chance for change. When their investigations into the Universal Humanitarian Church begin, Robin has her name, etched alongside Strike’s, on the new glass panel of the office door in Denmark Street.
She also has a new flat in Walthamstow, with a pot plant with large green heart-shaped leaves which Strike gives her as a housewarming present, and a relationship with the handsome CID officer Ryan Murphy. Even though he is police, Ryan is showing signs of some resentment of her career, and jealousy of Strike which blighted her relationship with Matthew. Robin may have resolved to keep her relationship with Strike as a friendship, and professional partnership, but as the investigations into the UHC conclude, it seems a new chapter in that relationship too might be about to begin.
The Running Grave, Robert Galbraith
Robin isn’t the only one who makes changes over the years. Strike revels in a diet of bacon rolls and takeaways, Doombar and cigarettes as he builds up the business, but ignoring his health takes a toll on his amputation, and lands him in A&E where a doctor tells him he needs to keep weight off his stump for six weeks, and renders him immobile just when the agency needs him the most. As the investigations into the death of Edie Ledwell reach a climax, Robin tells him he needs to take better care of himself for both their sakes, and the business. He moves from Benson and Hedges to a vape, and finally starts, cautiously at first, changing his eating habits. As investigations into the UHC begin, he’s lost so much weight his old friend Shanker asks him if he’s ill. Strike occasionally looks at the healthy contents of his fridge without enthusiasm and hankers after steak and kidney pudding, as he tries to stick to ordering fish when meeting his client, Colin Edensor in The Running Grave.
Strike’s new liaison as his investigation for Sir Colin begins might not be promising – his friend Ilsa has warned him against having anything to do with the glamorous and persistent Bijoux Watkins – but Strike is making some profound new beginnings in his personal life too. He admits, to himself at any rate, his feelings for Robin are more than friendly or professional, and after years of remaining emotionally entangled with Charlotte he has finally managed to separate himself, leaving her drunken appeals for his time and attention to go to voice mail.
For Robin and Strike fresh starts and new beginnings come in many guises, some dramatic, some subtle, and it’s impossible to predict where they will lead, but each one brings change and challenge and the partners continue to grow their business and make fresh discoveries, both professional and personal as they follow their path into the future.