Apart from being an ex-military policeman, my hero is the illegitimate son of a very famous man whom he has only met twice. Strike gives me a way to talk in an objective, de-personalised way about the oddities that come with fame. While in the army, Strike had the anonymity he craved; now that he has left, he runs into people who make a lot of assumptions about him based purely on his parentage. The character’s surname came from a real (but deceased) man mentioned in a slim book about Cornwall. His Christian name, which was a gift from his flaky groupie of a mother, is unusual and a recurring irritation to him as people normally get it wrong; we sense that he would much rather be called Bob. Strike is a brilliant but damaged man who is still clinging tight to one or two principles that he holds sacred. He is trying to scrape a living while tolerating physical hardships that to many civilians would seem unbearable, and by maintaining a discipline that many might dispense with in his situation.
Strike’s assistant in this case, Robin, is a temporary secretary who arrives due to an oversight (he was under the impression that he had cancelled his contract with the temping agency, having no funds to pay). Robin has hidden her lifelong ambition to engage in detective work from everyone around her, including her fiancé. She’s thrilled to find herself working with a private detective, but their relationship is not, initially, promising.
I love Robin quite as much as I love Strike, which is saying something. She grew largely out of my own experiences as a temp, long ago in London where I could always make rent between jobs because I could type 100 words a minute due to writing fiction in my spare time.
Robin initially finds Strike rather unattractive and unsympathetic, between his surliness and his ‘pube-like’ hair, but soon starts to admire his work ethic and intelligence. Meanwhile Strike, aware of his susceptibility as a newly single and isolated man, is determined not to become over-fond or reliant on this helpful and undeniably sexy girl. The resulting relationship, with its many awkwardnesses and a slowly emerging friendship, was a lot of fun to write.