Both Strike and Robin’s mothers appear prominently in the book series. Though Leda Strike died years before, and Linda Ellacott lives miles away in North Yorkshire, over the course of the series we get a good sense of who these women are, and what they’ve passed down to their children.
As a mother, Leda wasn’t typical, and in fact she wasn’t always present at all. Strike and his sister Lucy are both the offspring of famous rock stars – not the same one, and not the only ones Leda seduced in the course of her short life.
But does Strike blame his bohemian, fly-by-night mother for his own issues? His choice to join the army, his disdain for non-rational thinking, and his fear of commitment are all reactions to her chaotic, unconventional personality. But Strike loved his mother and stood by, living with her as a young man in the squat she called home even after his teenage sister Lucy retreated to Uncle Ted and Aunt Joan’s cottage in Cornwall.
Eighteen-year-old Strike left for university only when he knew someone he trusted – Shanker – was sharing the decrepit building in Whitechapel with his mother, keeping an eye on her. Strike still burns with suspicion about the way Leda died – supposedly of a heroin overdose. Her ex-husband Jeff Whittaker was tried and acquitted of her murder, but his legal innocence is far from a done deal in Strike’s mind.
Robin is close to her mother. Of the four Ellacott children, Robin’s the only daughter and their bond is strong. Lind Ellacott is intellectually and emotionally shrewd. She’s also naturally concerned about Robin, especially when it comes to her work.
Never explicitly discouraging, Linda’s had to stand by and hold her tongue when Robin’s job as a detective has put her in danger. When Robin gets hurt Linda’s pulled in two directions. She wants to support her daughter, but also to protect her. Likewise Robin wants her mother’s comfort and love, but she doesn’t want her family to worry or make a fuss. At times Robin’s kept Linda in the dark about a problem – relationship issues, even her marriage being on the verge of collapse. But Linda’s a fair and generous character.
Both Matthew and Strike like Linda, and that says it all. She’d never play favourites, or try to steer Robin’s major life decisions – she only wants her daughter to be safe, and to be happy.