Return to the Scene of Silkworm’s Crime – Joe North’s Home as Strike’s New HQ

One of Cormoran and Robin’s ‘to do’ items at the beginning of Troubled Blood is to re-negotiate an extension to the Agency’s lease with the new owners of the Denmark Street property.

In addition to the five open cases still on the agency’s books, he and Robin were juggling increased management demands made by the expanded workforce, and negotiating a year’s extension on the office lease with the developer who’d bought their building.

That task is never checked off their list. In fact, it is never mentioned again. Which means, I’m willing to bet, that this “no extension on the lease” item will come to a crisis early on in Strike6 and the C. B. Strike Detective Agency will need new quarters, fast.

The good news? There is a beautiful property in London available, even standing by, waiting for Strike to move in, Strike has the money to buy or to put up a down payment on it, heck, the owners might just give it to him.

Louise Freeman suggested it first: the Joe North Artists Studio house that was the scene of the Owen-Quine-North literary life back in the day and of Owen Quine’s murder in The Silworm.

North’s will had the provision that both Michael Fancourt and Owen Quine had to agree on the new owner and that the property had to be sold to an artist of some kind. Quine and Fancourt were feuding with such intensity that they never could agree on a sale (meaning “Fancourt refused to approve any sale or rental, money which would have really helped the down on their luck Quines, in retaliation for the suicide of his first wife which he mistakenly believes Quine inspired”). After Owen Quine’s death — in the house — I assume Leanora Quine inherited the family half-interest and veto power. I’d bet, too, that, though she and Orlando could use the money, she has turned down every one of Fancourt’s suggested buyers both to spite him and to preserve the place where her husband was murdered as kind of a shrine.

I wrote Nick Jeffery about the idea and, of course, learned a lot. The North house turns out to be a good and very real possibility.

We know Rowling has been fascinated by these studios for a while.
The layout would be perfect. Cormoran’s living accommodation in the basement, reception and interview rooms to ground floor, large open plan office and briefing area above.
The £2 million asking price has probably been inflated by the Strike/Rowling link.

Be sure to follow those links in Nick’s notes to see all the great pictures. Beautiful spaces, at least in the totally re-modelled and refurbished one on offer.

The only downside? It’s on a major thoroughfare, the A-4, which I’m told is the major out-going and incoming route from the West into London.

Compensation? There’s a tube station right behind it.

How can Strike afford it? Easy. Just do what Aunt Joan told him to do — contact Daddy Deep Pockets.

Strike can simply call Rokeby and ask for the child support money that has been compounding interest for decades in the bank. Nick Jeffery, being very conservative and sober in his estimates, put the money owed in the ballpark of $500,000.  Judging, though, from Strike’s memories of businesses Leda tried to start — a jewelry retail space? an art magazine? — it could be much, much more than that low-ball guess which is based on the legal minimums Rokeby had to pay out. Strike may have millions of pounds in the family Gringott’s vault miles beneath London.

He doesn’t need millions. Even half a million dollars would be a great down payment — but I bet Rokeby, whom son Al has told us is friends with Fancourt (Michael suggested he sign up with Roper-Chard as his publisher), could buy the thing out-right and Leanora would approve the sale in a heart beat. You know, as a “peace offering.”

Tomorrow is Orthodox ‘Christmas Eve’ and Thursday is Nativity so I will not be posting the correction to the Spiritual allegory of Troubled Blood, Part One or The Guilty Ghost of Margot Bamborough, the second Part of that idea, until this weekend. Thank you for your patience!

And a Merry Christmas! Let me know what you think of Louise’s idea that the Joe North House will be the new Strike Agency Headquarters — and thank you, Nick, as always for the links and information that make the post substantial!


  1. Would Robin agree to it? At the end of TB she thinks she will never have an ottoman, even a small one, because of finding Margot. Of course she wasn’t there when Quine was found so perhaps okay.

    I think one of their requirements for a new office and/or living quarters might be to have a second way to enter and exit in the event they’re in the news again. It might also be good for meeting high-profile clients.

  2. Nick Jeffery says

    Thanks Karol! Each of the studios on Talgarth Road does have a rear entrance, but it’s not clear how easy it is to access these from outside the terrace. It is possible they have a shared path to the right hand end terrace where there is an alley. More excitingly the left hand terrace has a door in the boundary wall with an intercom system attached, next door to the tube station.

  3. Hey, here’s a question…

    If the UK has laws against using names in fiction and especially film (?) that are the names of people then living, would there be a problem using an address, a real place, one with real world occupants, for the Agency HQ and Strike residence?

    The solution of course, if this is the case, would be for Rowling, Inc., to buy one of (or all!) the studios and use it for Bronte Films or the long bench of Blair’s Barracuda Barristers who are always ‘on call.’ “Real estate, m’boy,” Max Priestwood’s lawyer buddy told him, that’s the best investment…

    But would it be a necessary investment if the Strike Agency relocates from their Denmark Street premises (where, believe me, there are no occupants on the second and third floors to complain) to a highly visible and not inexpensive artist’s studio on the A4?

  4. Nick Jeffery says

    I think Rowling Inc has avoided this by using a fictional house number – 179 Talgarth Road. This is actually part of LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts). The real terrace runs from number 135 to 149.
    A quick search doesn’t show any statue law preventing using a real address, but may fall foul of the tort of nuisance.

  5. Thanks, Nick!

    The two million pound listing with the great pictures (was anyone else disturbed by the kitchen not having a gas stove or a stove-top of any kind?) says it is “one of eight” studios on the block.

    We know one has been fixed up into a luxury living space. Is there any way of learning how many, if any, of the other seven have been made over?

    Not that it matters; we can feel certain that the fictional Joe North Studio is a bloody mess. Unless they cleaned the blood stains up (or did the murderer use a drop cloth for Quine’s viscera?).

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