Strike’s unusual childhood makes him a perfect candidate for hating Christmas. His free-spirited mother, Leda, never put down roots long enough for a traditional family festive period.His father, rock legend Jonny Rokeby, barely took the time to send his illegitimate son a Season’s Greetings.
But there’s another side to Strike’s childhood: the solid and reliable aunt and uncle, Joan and Ted, who cared for Strike and his half-sister Lucy when their mother wasn’t able to, and who always welcome Strike’s Christmas visits to their home in St Mawes, Cornwall, where he arrives with inappropriate and noisy gifts for his nephews to open on Christmas morning.
Robin’s more stable family background gives her a traditional place to retreat to at Christmas – two loving parents, a hoard of brothers, a lovely market town in North Yorkshire. But in Troubled Blood, neither Strike or Robin is able to fully enjoy the family settings that normally provide some cosy seasonal comforts. Strike spends Christmas in his tiny Denmark Street flat, cobbling together a meal from his near-empty fridge because the shops are all closed, and trawling through evidence related to their investigation. Robin, meanwhile, feels crowded out in Masham by her older brother’s newborn baby, and the uncomfortable knowledge that her ex, Matthew, and his new girlfriend are staying just around the corner.
Robin tends to buy Strike great gifts, like those related to his love of music. But in their years working together, Strike’s gift-buying for Robin often leaves something to be desired – out of panic, and trying to avoid the wrong impression, he falls back on the obvious flowers and chocolates at Christmas and birthdays. But in The Silkworm he breaks this habit, with a Christmas gift that answers Robin’s call for more responsibility at the agency. And in Troubled Blood there are signs he might finally be comfortable buying Robin a Christmas present that’s thoughtful, and some might say, even romantic.