Robin & Matthew: Engagement to Wedding

Posted on 28 Mar 2024

Robin got engaged to her long-term boyfriend Matthew Cunliffe on 28th March 2010 under the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, but how did the fairy-tale wedding she hoped for turn out? From proposal to ceremony with death, shoes, and swans.

The Engagement

Robin is delighted to find her latest posting as a temp is with a Private Detective, but she is initially just as excited by her bridal magazines and the bouquets and bridal gowns they contain. Her engagement ring, a sapphire with two diamonds, fits perfectly. Matthew hurts her feelings when he fails to share her enthusiasm for the new posting, and when he asks her how many ‘proper’ interviews she has set up, she notices a fragment of frozen pea in the setting of her ring.

When she decides she wants to carry on working for Strike, even though he cannot afford to pay her what she could earn elsewhere, Matthew is not pleased. For once Robin, usually conciliatory and amiable, will not listen to him. She will not be forced into a job she doesn’t want. By the time the writer Owen Quine goes missing, Robin and Matthew have set a date and sent out invitations, but even that first step has not gone smoothly. Robin wants Strike there, but knows Matthew is suspicious of her new boss. Matthew wants to invite his university friend Sarah Shadlock, but Robin dislikes her, especially her habit of talking about Strike in insinuating terms to wind Matthew up.


Owen Quine is found gruesomely murdered in The Silkworm, and as the case becomes darker Matthew’s mother has a minor stroke. Robin is sympathetic, but Matthew accuses her of being more interested in the case than his mother, and he ends up sleeping on the sofa. For Matthew it’s a doubly disquieting moment, because throughout their relationship Robin has always been the first to apologise, but again her conciliatory nature seems to have been warped by her ‘stupid bloody job’. Mrs Cunliffe’s minor stroke is followed by a more serious one, and Matthew calls Robin at work to let her know she had died. She’s devastated for Matthew, and tells Strike his mother was lovely, but in fact the two women were never close. Mrs Cunliffe mentioned, within Robin’s hearing, how good it was for young men to play the field, sow their wild oats… and the way in which Robin had left university, after a violent attack, had tainted Robin, she knew, in Mrs Cunliffe’s eyes.

The marriage is delayed, and Robin, reluctant to take time away from the investigation into Owen Quine’s murder, also delays heading up to Yorkshire for the funeral, driving Strike to Devonshire instead in terrible weather. The funeral takes place in the Masham church, St Mary the Virgin, where Robin was supposed to be marrying in January. Still, rather than thinking sadly of the woman being buried or hopefully about her wedding, she wonders if the misty, mystical image of a boy-angel in the church was really the work of Joshua Reynolds, or some studio acolyte. As Robin approaches the office, and their next case, sometime later she wonders if perhaps they would be arguing less, if the marriage had gone ahead as originally planned.


With the wedding now set for July, preparations speed up, but rather than a box of disposable cameras, Robin takes delivery of a severed leg at the office. The agency and partners come under threat as they hunt a current killer among Strike’s old enemies. Though Robin is more interested in the investigation than her wedding arrangements, Strike is glad to insist she takes a long weekend in Masham with Matthew to make plans, knowing it puts her out of harm’s way for a few days at least.

Linda, Robin’s mother, hears her arguments with Matthew, and notices her lack of enthusiasm for her wedding. Over Fat Rascals and tea at Betty’s, the famous tea rooms in Harrogate, she asks if Matthew is jealous of Strike. Robin admits he is.

The fights continue, and in the midst of them, Robin learns Matthew and Sarah slept together while Robin was recovering from the horror of the attack which ended her university career. She takes off her engagement ring and calls off the wedding. But she doesn’t tell anyone other than her mother. Heading back to Masham after visiting her grieving daughter, Linda gives Robin five hundred pounds, and tells her to use it towards buying shoes for her wedding or investing in her single life.

Robin knows she has to decide if the wedding is on or off. Matthew seems desperate not to lose her, and Robin is wracked with guilt about the money her parents have already paid out, and the years invested in her relationship with him. Watching the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Matthew reminds her that they broke up for a while too. She is so moved by his unhappiness and the time they have spent together; she takes back her engagement ring and spends Linda’s money on Jimmy Choos for the wedding.

The Shoes

The arrangements seem to have taken on a life of their own, and Robin realises how much she has left to her mother. Then their case turns darker, Robin is attacked, and the case of the Shadwell Ripper exposes a terrible truth. Robin returns the expensive shoes to pay Strike’s friend Shanker for protection, while she, against her partner’s explicit instructions, brings it to light.

Strike sacks her for gross misconduct, and Robin, devastated, leaves London for her wedding. As the ripper is caught, Strike realises he needs her, but she doesn’t respond to his messages asking her back. Robin, surrounded by white Yorkshire roses on what should be the happiest day of her life, is miserable and only when Strike arrives, and knocks over a fine, tulip-like bronze stand holding a flower arrangement to the floor in the middle of the ceremony, does the bride, wearing cheap high-heels break into a genuine smile.


Matthew and Robin’s wedding reception is held at Swinton Park, a stunning castle near Masham, complete with a lake with photogenic and, if anything, uncooperative swans. The wedding photographer thinks they are one of the most handsome couples he’s ever photographed, but also that they’ve fought in the car between the ceremony and the photographs.

Robin is desperate to talk to Strike, and eager to go back to work if he’ll have her. Matthew was delighted when she was sacked and is unhappy to see Strike arriving to distract his bride. As they receive their guests, to the strains of a string quartet, Robin learns Strike has tried to call her and realises her husband has been deleting her call history. While Strike chats to Robin’s brother, Stephen, at another table, Robin sends back her food from salmon mousse to petits fours untouched, and after the speeches drags Matthew upstairs to the petal strewn bridal suite to tell him his betrayal means their marriage is over before it has even begun.

She is ready to try and get through the day for the sake of her parents, but as they have their first dance to ‘Wherever You Will Go’ by The Calling, Robin notices Strike leaving, and deserts Matthew on the dance floor to follow him, and get her job back as well as the promise of a proper contract.

Her actions don’t go unnoticed.

So, what began so promisingly under the statue in Piccadilly Circus ends, fourteen months later, with Robin convinced she has made a terrible mistake, her and her husbands’ families having a yelling match in the bridal suite, and Matthew with a bloody nose thanks to one of Robin’s brothers. And Strike, driving back down to London to face the press and police having successfully captured the Shacklewell Ripper, happy to know his partnership with Robin at least will continue.