Relationships in Strike

Posted on 13 Feb 2024

The snowdrops and crocuses are already making an appearance in London’s parks, the days are getting longer, and Valentine’s Day is here. So, we thought we’d look at the romantic relationships which have unfolded during Strike and Robin’s investigations. Most have blossomed, then faded with time, but one perhaps been growing deep roots beneath the surface.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

While investigating the murder of model Lula Landry (The Cuckoo’s Calling), Robin and Strike aren’t looking for romance. Strike is fresh from his final horrific fight with his ex-girlfriend and fiancée Charlotte Campbell and Robin is newly engaged to her long-time boyfriend Matthew, the only man she has ever dated. By the time Lula’s murderer is unmasked, both have experienced a shift in perspective. Strike has had an ego-boosting one night stand with super-model, Ciara, and Robin has been disappointed to discover Matthew is resentful of her new vocation for detective work. He accuses her of maintaining a ‘ludicrous air of mystery’ about the case, and wants her to get a safer, less demanding and higher paying job in HR. But Robin has fallen in love with detective work. Matthew discovers his fiancée, usually so conciliatory and amiable, remains aloof and angry when he belittles her new career, and her new boss.

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

Strike’s first almost relationship after breaking up with Charlotte is with publisher Nina Lascelles. He needs Nina’s help as he tries to discover what has happened to gothic author Owen Quine (The Silkworm), and when she gets him in to an exclusive publishing party, and copies the scandalous manuscript of Bombyx Mori for him, he knows he owes her something. Impulsively, he asks her to the birthday dinner his sister Lucy is throwing for him. He wakes up in Nina’s bed the following morning, realises it’s Charlotte’s birthday and he leaves pretending he has to work. When the case becomes a murder enquiry, he goes back to her, then again when he needs distraction on the day his ex-fiancée Charlotte marries Jago Ross. Then, he doesn’t return her calls. She is understandably frosty when they meet as the investigation closes. He likes her, but insufficiently, he admits, to treat her with common consideration.
As they search for the truth behind Quine’s scandalous last work, Robin insists that Matthew and Strike finally meet. She hopes they’ll like each other, which will make her home life easier. Instead, she has the unpleasant experience of seeing Matthew through Strike’s eyes. And Strike has concluded, with reason, that Matthew is an idiot.

Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith

At a party at Nick and Ilsa’s house, Cormoran finds himself in conversation with beautiful ex-professional violinist and broadcaster, Elin Toft. The relationship goes well at first, though Strike knows Ilsa doesn’t like her much. Neither does Robin, partly because she looks like Matthew’s old university friend, Sarah Shadlock, and partly because she once heard Elin refer to her as Strike’s secretary.
Robin’s wedding looks as if it will be called off when she discovers Matthew slept with Sarah while they were at university, and Strike misses a date with Elin to look after her. Though Elin forgives him, he finds the relationship beginning to grate, noticing he’s much happier talking nonsense with Robin than he is making forced conversation with his strangely unimaginative girlfriend. He might like her more than he did Nina, but not enough to care very much about her purchase of a new flat.
Robin decides to go ahead with the wedding, and as the investigation leads them into unimaginable darkness, Strike and Elin have a disastrous date at La Gavroche. He ends up abandoning her at the table, spilling red wine on her dress as he leaves. When he calls to apologise, he is dumped before he gets finish the sentence, which saves him having to end that relationship himself.
When Robin’s wedding day arrives, it looks like Strike’s relationship with her is over too. He calls, but knowing that’s not enough he races to Yorkshire to attend, arriving late and knocking over a floral arrangement in the process. Matthew is not the only one to notice that Robin looks cheerful for the first time on her wedding day when Strike arrives.

Lethal White, Robert Galbraith

Strike’s first meeting with Lorelei Bevan is memorable as they get wine thrown over them. Not pleased at having her relationship with Strike being limited to one drunken night in a Travelodge, tattoo artist and burlesque dancer Coco takes revenge when she spots him deep in conversation with her friend at the home of Strike’s police contact Eric Wardle and his wife. The friendship, Strike decides, is more Lorelei’s problem than his and they start seeing each other regularly.
Robin finds out on her wedding day that Matthew deleted Strike’s messages unsacking her, and she is planning on getting an annulment. Then Matthew gets ill on their honeymoon, and her pity for him convinces her to try again.
When Jimmy Knight bursts into their office and the investigations into the Chiswell family begin (Lethal White), Robin is still trying to save her marriage while Strike enjoys the comforts of his relationship with the stylish and independent Lorelei. After injury forces him to say at Lorelei’s flat for several days, he realises she is no longer happy with a no-strings attached relationship. He likes her, but is only sorry when she says, ‘I love you’, knowing he cannot reciprocate.
Robin feels trapped in her marriage by what she now sees as cowardice disguised as compassion. Finding Sarah Shadlock’s earring in her bed, she escapes in a minicab to a friend’s sofa.
Lorelei loses patience, reminding Strike if he wants a hot meal and a shag with no human emotions involved, there are restaurants and brothels.

The Ink Black Heart, Robert Galbraith

As the investigations into the disappearance of Margot Bamborough unfold (Troubled Blood), Robin is struggling through her divorce and all Strike’s emotional strength is taken up by daily concerns as his much-loved aunt succumbs to cancer. The pressure gets to them both, leading to a fight outside the flat where Robin is living, but also, as the case closes, to an evening where Strike tries to make up for some of his neglect of his partner with a helium balloon and drinks at the Ritz. The evening leads to a near kiss, but Robin panics and the moment passes.
The partners plunge into work at the busy agency, and Strike begins the new year by kissing jewellery designer, Madeleine Courson-Miles, in an exclusive London club.
As the agency begins its investigations into the murder of Edie Ledwell (The Ink Black Heart), and the identity of her online troll, Anomie, Strike’s relationship with Madeleine follows a familiar pattern. He finds some comfort and pleasure in a liaison with another beautiful and successful woman but is unable to give Madeleine the relationship she wants. His ex-fiancé, Charlotte, takes the opportunity to cause trouble for him, casually telling Robin about the affair, and playing on Madeleine’s paranoia. The relationship ends messily, leaving Strike wounded in his good leg by a stiletto heel.
Robin realises her feelings for Strike are profound, but decides he has no romantic interest in her. As the investigations intensify, she throws herself into her work, while trying to avoid the attentions of a lonely and persistent divorcee called Hugh Jacks. Working undercover and faking a level of sexual experience and confidence she does not feel, means as the investigations closes, she is ready to go on a first date with handsome CID officer Ryan Murphy.
As Strike recovers in hospital from the wounds received in the final confrontation with Edie Ledwell’s killer, he learns about the upcoming date and realises how big a mistake he has made.

The Running Grave, Robert Galbraith

After years of struggling with a difficult marriage, and her feelings for her business partner, Robin is now with Ryan Murphy. She hopes the CID officer will understand her work and her commitment to it far better than Matthew, and in the run up to her going undercover at the Universal Humanitarian Church the relationship is going well.
Strike, angry with himself for missing his chance with Robin, sleeps with Bijou Watkins and refuses to listen to Ilsa when she tells him it’s a bad idea. He discovers for himself she is right, as the encounter brings even more than the usual chaos in its wake.
Ryan doesn’t like the idea of Robin going on a dangerous undercover mission, and when she returns, traumatised and exhausted, he begins to show signs of jealousy and possessiveness which remind her uncomfortably of Matthew.

As the mystery of the Drowned Prophet is finally solved, Strike finally makes a confession. What will grow from that, none of us know as yet.