Wintertime can bring some very chilly weather, making the interior of certain pubs, and even Strike’s Denmark Street flat, feel particularly cosy – but Robin and Cormoran’s work takes them out into the world whatever the weather.
The Cuckoo’s Calling
The partner’s first investigation begins on a bitterly cold night, when supermodel Lula Landry falls from the balcony of her luxury apartment to her death on the snow covered pavement of the wealthy enclave of Kentigern Gardens in west London. Her neighbour runs out into the freezing street in her dressing gown, bawling that there’s a murderer in the building, and the first crucial hours of the investigation take place as heavy snow continues to fall. Robin and Strike only begin their investigation three months later as spring arrives and Lula’s adopted brother recruits them to discover the truth behind her death. The investigation is still haunted by that winter night however; the blood on the snow, the press wiping snow from their lenses, and the CCTV images of two men running away from the scene of the crime on icy streets while thick snow falls.
The investigations into the disappearance of Margot Bamborough begin in the summer, but Strike suffers through the worst that winter can throw at him before the mystery is unravelled. Weeks into the investigation, the Christmas lights strung across Denmark Street swaying on their cables in the wind and heavy rain remind him he hasn’t done his gift shopping yet. When he does venture out in cold rain which drips down the back of his collar, confused by the shrieking Christmas tunes and the crowds, and coming down with flu, he only manages to get Robin salted caramel chocolates, which do not go down well with his partner. As the flu hits, he is forced to stay holed up in his flat, missing Christmas in Cornwall with his family and getting tormenting texts from his former fiancée, Charlotte. Typically, he throws himself into his work but between the flu and food poisoning which follows though, he loses a stone during the festive season. Robin’s Christmas isn’t much better that year, feeling harried by her family, her past and difficult texts from their contractor Morris. She does though find some moments of peace, listening to the music of Joni Mitchell, whose music Margot loved so much, and opening her laptop in the family kitchen in Masham with the garden beyond the window covered in a hard frost.
The winter weather brings another crisis for Strike in February. His aunt Joan is coming to the conclusion of her battle with cancer, and Strike and his half-sister, Lucy, desperately need to get to her, however the harsh winter weather has turned the roads into freezing canals and the Cornish peninsula is temporarily cut off from the rest of England. Strike hires a jeep which carries them most of the way, but they have to divert around great wide lakes where lately there had been fields, forcing them miles out of their way. The drive shows Strike a different side of his sister and he’s impressed by Lucy’s calm determination, having forgotten how efficient and practical she can be. No matter how resolute they both are, brother and sister only make it to Joan’s bedside with the help of Strike’s oldest friend, Dave Polworth and his mates, who are standing by to take them the last thirty miles to St Mawes, walking, and using tractors and dinghies to cross the flooded fields.
The Ink Black Heart
Before the partners’ investigations into the harassment and murder of Edie Ledwell begin, Robin gets a chance to see a more positive side of winter weather. She goes on a skiing trip with her favourite cousin in Zermatt. She has to fend off Hugh Jacks, the bitterly divorced friend of her cousin’s who is also on the trip, but the skiing, the good food and eight hours of sleep at night are a welcome change. The view from Robin’s bedroom is of the snow-coated Matterhorn, which pierces the bright blue sky like a gigantic fang, and alone in her room, staring at the mountain, as the light changes the colours of the snow, Robin comes closest to achieving the peace and perspective she’d sought in coming on the trip.
The November day Leonora arrives at the office to ask for Strike’s help locating her husband, gothic writer Owen Quine, the winter already has London in its grip. As the investigations turn darker, becoming a case of murder, the snow arrives in abundance, transforming the city. Familiar streets and roads become fraught with danger. Cormoran’s missing leg makes getting around the city in this weather a great deal more challenging. The terrible weather also show him something about Robin when her expert driving skills save both their lives on an icy motorway. The weather causes other delays though, and Robin’s dash to Kings Cross Station to get the train north for the funeral of her partner’s mother, is nail-bitingly close. In Masham the snow gives the roofs of the pale gold Georgian houses a bright, frozen icing, the snow falling thick around the attendees of the funeral.
Interrupted and complicated by the weather, the investigation also comes to climax on an evening of heavy snow whilst at the Chelsea Art Club. Strike, as he waits to confirm his suspicions and confront those responsible, is surrounded by the silent beauty of the snow covered garden, beside a small iced pond. His final conversations in the case are witnessed by a plump bronze cupid wearing a wig of snow pointing its bow and arrow straight up at the dark heavens.