The Flobberworm’s Flat: Is Robin Entitled to a Share of the Proceeds?

As happy as many Serious Striker’s were to see Robin finally walk out on the Flobberworm, it was painful to see her searching, for the second time, for tiny rooms in shared houses. Personally, I’m quite glad Nick and Ilsa had a friend conveniently in need of a roommate. But what if she is not *quite* as financially bad-off as she thinks?  I will admit I don’t know the first thing about British marital property laws, but I was intrigued about this little aside from Lethal White:

“Matthew had objected when Robin first suggested renting again, but she had overridden him, saying that she could not stand another year in Hastings Road while further purchases of overpriced houses fell through. Between the legacy and Matthew’s new job, they were just able to make rent on the smart little three-bedroomed house, leaving the money they had received from the sale of their Hastings Road flat untouched in the bank.”

So—  they sold an apartment, roughly a year after they married, and deposited the full amount in the bank.  I have to assume there is no such thing as a cheap apartment in London, certainly not one that Matthew Cunliffe would deign to inhabit. Ergo, this is a tidy little sum—  certainly way more than the 5000 pounds Robin told Raff would make a huge difference to her.

The question is, is half of that sum Robin’s? Did Matthew purchase their flat before Robin joined him in London circa early 2010, right before their engagement? Or did they buy it together? Is Robin’s name on the deed? Was “their Hastings flat” really “theirs” in the legal sense–  and can Robin demand her half now? Certainly Ilsa, the hotshot attorney, can give her some advice on this. Of course, Robin being Robin, she may be reluctant to claim a share of the bank account that she hasn’t personally earned. But, as I said, there are no cheap flats in London– even if she only took a quarter, or a third, it would make her transition easier. As despicably as the Flobberworm treated her in that final scene, I wouldn’t mind seeing Robin take him to the cleaners. And Vanessa “keep her bleeding earring and turn it into a pendant” Ekwensi will probably chime in with some good girlfriend advice. Between Vanessa, Ilsa and Cormoran, Robin’s got some good people in her corner.

The question is, if she does come into this money, what will she do with it? Could it be a deposit on a place of her own? Or—  if, as hinted in the last book, the agency may be in danger of losing its Denmark Street digs,  thanks to the building being sold to a developer, maybe Robin will wind up helping to finance housing for the business, rather than herself. I hope they somehow manage to keep the old office— I’d miss that rickety old metal staircase and broken birdcage lift—  probably more than Robin would.


  1. Linda Ellacott says

    I think Matthew didn’t purchase the Hastings Road flat before Robin moved to London, because in the Cuckoo’s Calling they were living in a (I think rented) flat in Clapham:
    “Beside him, Robin was trying not to look impressed. This, then, was how multimillionaires lived. She and Matthew occupied the lower floor of a semidetached house in Clapham, its sitting room was the same size as that designated for the off-duty guards, which Wilson showed them first. There was just enough room for a table and two chairs; a wall-mounted box contained all the master keys, and another door led into a tie toilet cubicle.”
    It’s not the same as the Hastings Road flat.
    Whereas at the end of the Silkworm, Robin was already living in Ealing:
    “Strike had never visited Robin and Matthew’s flat in Ealing before.” (First sentence in last chapter.) So maybe the Clapham flat was rented and the Ealing flat was owned. It could be that Matthew bought the Ealing flat from his inheritance after his mother died. But, his mother died in late November and Strike visited Robin in her flat before Christmas, same year… So, not too likely.
    Or was Clapham just a mistake? Did Rowling mean that Robin and Matthew lived in the same flat through the first three books?

  2. Joanne Gray says

    I think since in the first book Robin had just moved to London and was just temping until she could find a full-time job (and then when she does it was only minimum wage–as Matt loves to remind her), that Matt did essentially purchase the place they were living until book 4. That’s not to say that Robin hasn’t put money towards the cost and expenses but knowing Matt and his love of money–I’m sure he will fight to keep every dime of what ever settlement they both carve out in their upcoming divorce proceedings.

    I’m going to be surprised if there isn’t a new office location in book 5. There’s been hints that it is going to happen for awhile now, and heaven knows, as much as Robin needs a good place, Cormoran has needed someplace, at least, a few steps above destitute since book 1. Here’s hoping book 5 sees both of their living situations sorted out.

    I’m very curious to see what kind of place JKR will come up with to take the place of the original and iconic Denmark digs. I suspect it will be a 3R place–retro, renovated, and repurposed building that will serve as office, garage and living space. Although, that sounds a bit more like the “Bat Cave” or the fire station in the original “Ghostbusters”. At the very least it needs a functioning elevator–even if it’s just big enough for two.

  3. Louise Freeman says

    That would make sense— the quotation I had before said “renting again”– But, it seems that if they bought the flat after they were living together, and before Matthew got his inheritance, then it’s more likely that they co-own it.

    Get that girl a lawyer!

  4. Strike 5 if Rowling continues her parallels with the Hogwarts Saga will be in correspondence with the deeply dark nigredo of ‘Order of the Phoenix.’

    I bring this up because I suspect we will see a House of Black equivalent in ‘change of premises as well as something like the opening Dementor attack in Little Whinging with court cases from Geraint Winn about their illegal recording of his conversations (and impersonation of his wife on the phone?), from Jimmy Knight for assault, and from Matt Cunliffe for divorce (with legal barracudas in the form of high end lawyers — can you say ‘Tony Landry’ or ‘Cyprian May’? — paid for by Jago Ross).

    Recall, too, that Books 1 and 5 in the Potter series are closely aligned; the fifth is in many ways an expanded re-telling of the first (see Joyce Odell and my Ring Composition book for the details). And the parallels between Books 3 and 5, the turtleback line… a return to the madness of ‘Career of Evil’! This promises to be a depressing, dangerous, not to mention deadly installment in the series. A change of residence for all parties seems the least we have to worry about, no?

  5. Louise Freeman says

    You make a good point, John, and I definitely expect things to take a dark and difficult turn. But, just to be contrary— my guess is that any legal troubles our protagonists find themselves in will be resolved fairly quickly, like Harry’s case was. Keep in mind:

    Cormoran’s most recent case was to solve the murder of a government official–and a conservative one at that. Prior to that, he caught a serial killer, solve the murder of a super-model and a semi-kinda-well-known author. That’s in order of likely public interest. I can’t imagine the British government being particularly eager to throw the book at him or his assistant. Assuming the Tories are the most law-and-order type, he solved the murder of one of their own.

    The same accolades would probably help Robin in a divorce court. if Matthew tries to cut her off with nothing on the grounds that she did not contribute to the household income. “So, Miss Ellacot, you took this low-paying job, against your husband’s wishes and advice. What were you doing, exactly, that was so important it forced your devoted and beleaguered husband to sacrifice the car he so desperately wanted, and (pearl clutch) be forced to *rent* a house in London rather than buy one?” “Well, I helped catch the serial killer stalking London, and then solved the murder of Minister Chiswell…”

    On top of that, there is at least one person out there who is unexpectedly stinking rich because of CB Strike– and a fellow soldier, to boot. Make that two if the Stubbs turns out to be real. In that event, if our heroes need a legal defense fund, there are likely donors with very deep pockets– starting with Jonah and Izzy.

    Jimmy Knight is on a blacklist and can’t sue without permission. If they have the money, my guess is the Chiswells will quietly pay him off.

    Charlotte and Matt are, of course, the wild cards and could very well form an alliance. But would Jago bankroll Charlotte’s revenge against her ex? I have speculated before that Jago is a very controlling, possibly even abusive type. (See my “battered broodmare” post. ) He may want to see his rival Cormoran go down— but would he give his wife money to torture him? I would think he would want her paying as little attention to him as possible. Charlotte may have an interest in ruining Robin, if she genuinely wants Cormoran back. But Charlotte may very well need Cormoran as a rescuer, and that won’t happen if she is in league with the Flobberworm. And Jago has every reason to want Robin’s divorce to be quick and clean, leaving her as a healthy and happy love interest for Cormoran, to keep the Doom Bar Detective well away from his wife. I can’t see that he has any interest in hurting Robin or assisting Matthew.

    As for a 12 Grimmauld Place parallel— I think the Fancourt/Quine home is the obvious choice. It would certainly need a good cleaning before it is habitable. I wonder if the terms of the will could be broken now that it has become a notorious crime scene?

  6. Joanne Gray says


    I agree with your assessment of what could be in store for Strike/Robin in book 5 of the series–which is both exciting and frightening. I like the idea that the lawyers could very well be the parallel to the ‘Order of the Phoenix’s Dementors.

    My biggest question is what will be the comparable parallel in Strike 5 to HP 5’s big reveal about the prophecy in the Ministry of Magic? Strike has no comparable villain in the series but he does have a lot of questions surrounding his own birth and background. Personal history facts that are still hidden or unsubstantiated.

    Surely, since HP 5’s biggest revelation is the truth of the link between Harry and Voldemort and what that link means for Harry’s future; then, Strike 5 must also contain a revelation about Strike’s past that is both very personal and utterly shocking.

    And I can’t even begin to imagine what or how ‘Career of Evil’ will be reconfigured for Strike 5!

  7. As always, Louise, your contrary points are much more compelling and convincing than my original assertions. Their only remaining virtue relative to your more likely explanations and alternatives is ‘structure.’ Harry’s legal troubles in ‘Phoenix,’ it is true, go away with DDore’s ex machina appearance before the Wizangamut but the persecution by the Ministry in the person of Dolores Umbridge remains. This and the number of possible legal cases to be brought against the C. B. Strike Detective Agency, not to mention that Bristow and May (and Bestigui?) may take the Cunliffe divorce case pro bono to inflict maximum damage on Strike through Robin, make me less dismissive of the nightmare scenarios than you are.

    And as intriguing as a return to the scene of the Silkworm crime may be (and to a reunion with Dodo and her mother!), I would be very surprised because a Book2 and Book 5 link as strong as that makes the turtle-back picture of the series rather messy! I’d expect that change of premises to be in Strike 6, right?

    But we are well into Strike 5 speculation… Is it time to write a proper post with our first best guesses about Cormoran’s next adventure, with or without structural references? All this back and forth is rather wasted on a comment thread only the most faithful readers will find!

  8. My biggest question is what will be the comparable parallel in Strike 5 to HP 5’s big reveal about the prophecy in the Ministry of Magic?

    That is the question, isn’t it, Joanne?

    I think it has to be at least one of three background mysteries of this detective mystery series: (a) Cormoran’s birth story and the death of Leda Strike; (b) the case Strike was investigating in Afghanistan when the IED explosion took him out; (c) the truth (!) about Charlotte’s pregnancy and the break-up of their relationship that opened Strike 1.

    My Heroin Dark Lord Theory tried to offer a plausible explanation or story line to link (a) and (b). Current opinion on HogwartsProfessor as voiced by Evan and Louise is that Rokeby is the good guy rather than the black hat of the series.

    But we all agree, I think, that Strike 5 has to reveal the base-mystery text to be resolved in Strikes 6 and 7 if Strike 5 is to be a meaningful parallel with Order of the Phoenix.

    What was I saying about the need for a proper Strike 5 Speculation post?

  9. Louise Freeman says

    Why would Tony Landry and Cyprian May hate Strike? Are the remaining Landry-Bristows (Tony’s about it, right, once the Lady expires?) more upset about losing Lula’s wealth and the general scandal than they are about the despised BatShit Insane and Embezzler Nephew (who Tony, at least, has suspected of being a sociopath since he was 12 but was somehow forced to employ…) finally getting caught? I’d have though Tony would be grateful John was put away. If he’d inherited Lula’s money, he would have been able to hire someone to commit uncle-cide for him; my guess is Tony Landry would have been the third member of the family to fall to his death (maybe defenestrated from his law office?)

    May now has some great info to use against Bestigui in the divorce case; you’d think he’d be grateful. Bestigui could be P.O.ed, maybe, but he’s no lawyer (and probably first in line to make a movie about the case, anyway?)

    I’m all for predictions!

  10. Why would Tony Landry and Cyprian May hate Strike?

    Bestigui already knew that May was sleeping with Landry’s wife (and looking forward to using that information at the right time to blow up the law firm handling his divorce…) but Strike pre-emptively struck by convincing Alison Cresswell of the affair (and John Bristow’s guilt thereby) which resulted in her leaving the firm and Bat Shit Insane John’s last ditch attempt at containing the story by trying to murder Strike in his office.

    Why would they hate him? Because he forced the adulterous affair and May’s false statement to the police out into the open, that the family firm was almost certainly shuttered consequent to the break between the senior partners, and because of the scandal brought on the Landy-Bristow family name by the revelation of John Bristow’s psychopathology and several murders.

    “That seems enough to be getting on.”

  11. Louise Freeman says

    But if the law firm is shuttered and the partners split, how would May and Landry take on Matthew’s case pro bono? And if one of them did choose to represent Matthew, perhaps the other would take on Robin out of spite?

    Granted, the case outcome was not altogether positive for them, but I think not having to worry about the Siblicidal Lunatic showing up for Christmas tea at the manor has got to be worth at least a few brownie points in the CB Strike Agency’s favor.

    Louise, who is now wondering if Sir Alec really died of natural causes.

  12. Joanne Gray says

    I dearly love to speculate about book 5 (and beyond) but after book 3 we at least had a few crumbs of information to build speculation on for book 4. A big one was that book 4 would start right where book 3 left off. Book 3 also had ended on a very big (and disliked) event.

    We had also been left with a lot of little pieces to Cormoran’s back story sprinkled throughout ‘Career of Evil’. This time–in the gap between book 4 and book 5, we have (so far) only be left with one bread crumb. A bread crumb that has actually given us more questions than useful information. On November 23, 2018 (Cormoran’s birthday), JKR posted on her Twitter account that she was having a bit of a difficult time with a scene on Robin’s 29th birthday.

    Happy to finally get confirmation about her working on book 5 but then suddenly realizing what she said and realizing that book 4, ‘Lethal White’ had ended in September 2012–when Robin was still 27. A whole month before she would even turn 28!?!

    This was the first mention by JKR that she was working on book 5 (and still the only mention) and the time line told us that the scene she mentioned was a year and a month later than the end of the fourth book. So far books have never taken such a leap–in 4 books we have only moved from 2010 to 2012 (even with a year leap in book 4!) But this would move the story from Fall 2012 to Fall 2013, just when we had finally gotten to a place that promised some real forward movement for the two main characters and, as JKR has pointed out, it’s their journey that keep us engaged and coming back.

    The still unresolved problem with this one solid piece of information in book 5 was that it was not put into any kind of context. We were not given any information of where in the book this happened. In the beginning, middle or end.

    Where it happens makes all the difference. At the end–great–with the added benefit that it would mean the book is almost finished. Unlikely.

    The worse case scenario is that it takes place near the beginning of the book.

    I didn’t mind the year jump in book 4 because it was over the part of the story I least wanted to read–Robin and Matthews marriage. But a year skip now, at this point in the story would be very disappointing and create even more missed pieces that need to be filled in later.

    I really don’t believe this big skip can be in the beginning (or anywhere in book 5), but until we hear otherwise we are once again standing on a patch of unstable ground from which to speculate what might happen going forward. Although, I really can’t believe she would skip ahead now and lose so much of Cormoran and Robin’s journey in the space between book 4 and 5.

    At this point we really just have a lot of scattered, albeit intriguing puzzle pieces from the four books, but with no way to really fit them together in any coherent way. We are not only without a picture of what the puzzle is suppose to look like when assembled, but at this point we don’t even have the framing of the final picture in order to even begin to connect the pieces inside the right framework.

    We think Jonny Rokeby could be Cormoran’s biological father–since we don’t have proof otherwise–but we also don’t know if the proof we have is actually been given is at all reliable–as well as the question of why he hasn’t really appeared in the story yet.

    We like to think Jeff Whittaker murdered his wife Leda because Cormoran believes he did–but Whittaker has been acquitted of her murder and the legal system appears to be totally uninterested in whether it really was a murder–let alone solving it. I have to say I took the Billy Knight story in ‘Lethal White’ as an echo of this incident–a younger Cormoran believing it a murder and his hated stepfather the killer but the law acquitting Whittaker and not pursuing the murder aspect of Leda’s death. But I still believe that Cormoran is right about his mother being murdered but the story seems to be leaning towards Strike being wrong about Whittaker being revealed as Leda’s murderer.

    Since I still think this is the ultimate case for Cormoran–it would make sense if her murderer turned out to be the series villain–a la Moriarty (supposedly Conan Doyle only used him twice in his Sherlock Holmes series–but everyone thinks he appears many more times–the sign of a great villain.) I’m still hoping that the Strike series gets its own series villain–time will tell.

    Come to think of it–maybe that’s how the echo from “Career of Evil” comes into play? Would she write this series villain again from the killer’s point of view–like Donald Laing in CoE? Maybe we wouldn’t see who it is until the end (or maybe she would play it like Columbo–where the audience/readers know who did it from the commission of the crime but the detective and the rest of the characters are in the dark about who-done-it. Heightening the tension in other ways.

    I think I just proved part of my theory wrong (that speculation isn’t possible when you are given next to nothing to work with)–however, I still think she needs to throw us a few bones in order for us (or anyone) to really build some good possibilities for the main character’s story going forward. Something with more substance than unconfirmed possibilities and our own imagination (though both of these are good in their own way–just better when they are under pinned with some firm, confirmed framing).

    She has said that she has sprinkled the pieces (names and places) necessary throughout the books in order to play fair with readers going forward. Maybe they can be spied easier Olympus, but here on the ground–I confess I’m having a heck of a time trying to see anyone who makes sense as Leda’s killer–even including Whittaker.

  13. Louise Freeman says


    We may have hit another of JKR’s notorious math errors. I was re-listening to Career of Evil: it begins with “Robin Ellacott was 26 years old and had been engaged for more than a year.” This is April 2011, shortly before Prince William married. We know her birthday is in October, so this means that, at her wedding, she is approaching her 27th birthday, giving her a birth year of 1984. This is in concordance with the opening of Cuckoo’s Calling, where Robin reflects on her “twenty-five years of life” while pondering her new engagement ring.

    Yet, on her ill-fated Lethal White honeymoon, we hear: “Alone in the balmy, mosquito-buzzing night, while the waves sighed on the shore and she cradled her aching arm, Robin reminded herself bleakly that she had had very little experience with men for a woman approaching her twenty-eighth birthday.” So she has somehow managed to jump a full year in age, **before** the readers jumped over a year of Robin/Cormoran post-honeymoon awkwardness into Jimmy’s appearance and the start of the saga of the Chiswells.

    Depending on which timeline is correct, Robin may have been 27 the summer she married, not 26. This would make her 28 the next summer, during the Olympics. Robin’s 29th birthday, therefore, may happen only a couple of months after the close of Lethal White— that’s certainly what I am hoping! I want to see Robin in divorce court!

    But, if Mr. Galbraith is reading this, please let it be known that there is a team of us here at Hogpro —including a college statistics instructor—who would happily fact check any calculations for future volumes, prior to publication, for a fee of a mere 0.01% of book proceeds.

    In the meantime, Serious Strikers, please check the various editions, print and audio. Chapter 2 of Career of Evil; Chapter 3 of Lethal White. Was either corrected in later editions?

  14. Lesley Stevens says

    Well, that is a tricky question, as I understand the law to be, it is up to the judge in each divorce case to decide how much each party is due, dependent upon how much they have contributed towards the marriage, either financially, or in cases where children are involved towards childcare and upbringing.

    I do not therefore think that it would be a straightforward 50/50 split of the joint bank account especially, as it is often bitterly repeated that Matthew is the main ‘bread winner’.

    The fact that any assets are in a liquidated form however would I feel make it easier to apportion and distribute, which I think is alluded to somewhere in the text when Robin and Matthew decide to rent rather than purchase their new home. Possibly a sub-conscious decision on Robin’s part, unfortunately however this is an area of law that is not cast in stone and there is therefore no definitive answer.

  15. On Robin’s age, in Lethal White she tells Chiswell she’s 27 in chapter 15, the summer of 2012. I think JKR got confused about Robin’s age in the flashback to her and Matt’s honeymoon, in 2011, when Robin thinks of herself as turning 28 that year. JKR definately needs a better proofreader. Could the case for book 5 last over the course of a year, like a HP book? That would be such a change to the detailed, almost day by day style of the previous books, though.

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