How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.
The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.
...writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.
He had spent much of his childhood perched on the coast, with the taste of salt in the air: this was a place of woodland and river, mysterious and secretive in a different way from St. Mawes, the little town with its long smuggling history, where colorful houses tumbled down to the beach.
He wondered fleetingly how many people who sat alone for hours as they scribbled their stories practiced talking about their work during their coffee breaks....
Couples tended to be of roughly equivalent personal attractiveness, though of course factors such as money often seemed to secure a partner of significantly better looks than oneself.
The whole world's writing novels, but nobody's reading them. We need readers. More readers. Fewer writers.
In the depths of his tiredness, surrounded by these blank, sheep-like visages, he found himself pondering the accidents that had brought all of them into being. Every birth was, viewed properly, mere chance. With a hundred million sperm swimming blindly through the darkness, the odds against a person becoming themselves were staggering.
There were friends all over London who would welcome his eagerly to their homes, who would throw open their guest rooms and their fridges, eager to condole and to help. The price of all of those comfortable beds and home-cooked meals, however, would be to sit at kitchen tables, once the clean-pajamaed children were in bed, and relive the filthy final battle with Charlotte, submitting to the outraged sympathy and pity of his friends' girlfriends and wives. To this he preferred grim solitude, a Pot Noodle and a sleeping bag.
Hers was the kind of family that commissioned painters to immortalize its young: a background utterly alien to Strike, and one he had come to know like a dangerous foreign country.
In spite of her plainness that would have made wallflowers of other women, she radiated a great sense of self-importance.
Matthew would not like this, she had said. He would have liked it even less had he know how much Strike had liked it.
One of the earliest and most vivid memories of Robin’s childhood was of the day that the family dog had been put down. She herself had been too young to understand what her father was saying; she took the continuing existence of Bruno, her oldest brother’s beloved Labrador, for granted. Confused by her parents’ solemnity, she had turned to Stephen for a clue as to how to react, and all security had crumbled, for she had seen, for the first time in her short life, happiness and comfort drain out of his small and merry face, and his lips whiten as his mouth fell open. She had heard oblivion howling in the silence that preceded his awful scream of anguish, and then she had cried, inconsolably, not for Bruno, but for the terrifying grief of her brother.
Fancourt can't write women,' said Nina dismissively. 'He tries but he can't do it. His women are all temper, tits and tampons.
Hard to remember these days that there was a time you had to wait for the ink and paper reviews to see your work excoriated. With the invention of the internet, any subliterate cretin can be Michiko Kakutani.
Strike was becoming steadily more taciturn, his expression brooding. Robin wondered whether this was because he was hungry—he was a man who needed regular sustenance to maintain an equable mood—or for some darker reason.
He had called what he felt for Charlotte love and it remained the most profound feeling he had had for any woman. In the pain it had caused him and its lasting after-effects it had more resembled a virus that, even now, he was not He had called what he felt for Charlotte love and it remained the most profound feeling he had had for any woman. In the pain it had caused him and its lasting after-effects it had more resembled a virus that, even now, he was not.
He knew more about the death of Lula Landry than he had ever meant or wanted to know; the same would be true of virtually any sentient being in Britain. Bombarded with the story, you grew interested against your will, and before you knew it, you were so well informed, so opinionated about the facts of the case, you would have been unfit to sit on a jury.
He had hoped to spot the flickering shadow of a murderer as he turned the file's pages, but instead it was the ghost of Lula herself who emerged, gazing up at him, as victims of violent crimes sometimes did, through the detritus of their interrupted lives.
Im.’ The monosyllable was heavy with contempt. ‘’E’s a twat.’‘Is he?’‘Yeah, ’e is. Ask Kieran.’She gave the impression that she and Kieran stood together, sane, dispassionate observers of the idiots populating Lula’s world.
...the safest way of ensuring that secret information did not leak was not to tell anybody about it.
For all his determination to keep her at arm's length, they had literally leaned on each other. He could remember exactly what it felt like to have his arm around her waist as they had meandered towards Hazlitt's Hotel. She was tall enough to hold easily. He had never fancied very small
Perhaps she had received diamonds, Strike thought; she had always said she didn't care for such things, but when they argued the glitter of all he could not give her had sometimes been flung back hard in his face...
The act of shopping for what he needed, and of setting up the bare necessities for himself, had lulled Strike back into the familiar soldierly state of doing what needed to be done, without question or complaint.
Sixteen unseeing stone of disheveled male slammed into her; Robin was knocked off her feet and catapulted backwards, handbag flying, arms windmilling, towards the void beyond the lethal staircase.