Chiswell Family and Associates
The mercurial and temperamental Minister for Culture. A lifelong member of the Conservative party, he was once touted as a future Prime Minister until a series of scandals and affairs ruined his reputation. He hires Strike to find incriminating material to thwart a blackmail plot.
- Asshole Victim: The man is such a jerkass that it is hard to feel sorry for him about him being the victim of blackmail. It only gets worse after he gets murdered.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: As a Conservative politician with a unique and often mocked hairstyle, he bears a more than passing resemblance to Boris Johnson.
- Parental Favoritism: Freddie was his favorite child, and he never bothered to hide it. This was because the others were girls or illegitimate.
- Your Cheating Heart: He cheated on his first wife with an Italian reporter.
Jasper's second wife, thirty years his junior. She is difficult and prone to histrionics, paranoid that her husband is having an affair.
- Buxom Is Better: Other characters often mention her large bust.
- Gold Digger: Jaspers children are convinced she only married their father for money.
- Hysterical Woman: She is prone to temper tantrums and histrionics, to the point that the Chiswells treat her almost like a child in need of supervision.
Chiswell's eldest son, who was killed in action in Iraq. He is revered by his father, but is revealed to have been a bully with a cruel streak who hid his indiscretions behind his family name.
- Asshole Victim: After he was killed in action during the Iraq War, Strike investigated his death. Everyone he interviewed immediately asked if Freddie was shot by his own troops.
- Big Brother Bully: He treated Raphael like crap whenever he came to Chiswell house.
- The Bully: Freddie spent his entire life bullying anyone he could get away with.
- Posthumous Character: He is long dead by the time the novel starts, but we get a very good picture of the kind of person he was in life.
- Teens Are Monsters: Freddie was a bullying asshole even as a teenager. His bullying was directly responsible for the death of Rhiannon Winn, he once strangled Raphael into unconsciousness and he shot a pony to death just for fun.
Jasper's second daughter who works as his assistant. She is over-worked, under-appreciated and yet constantly defends her father's behavior.
- Extreme Doormat: Her father treats her little better than a slave, and not only does she not complain, she constantly defends him.
- The Un-Favourite: No matter how hard she worked for him, her father neverloved her as much as Freddie.
- White Sheep: Despite her loyalty to her father, she is the only member of the family who is not a complete and total asshole.
Jasper's second son, born out of wedlock to an Italian model. Raphael has lived under the shadow of Freddie, who was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq. He was imprisoned after killing a young mother in a drug-fuelled traffic accident.
- Bastard Bastard: He is Jasper's son born out of wedlock, but he is also an irresponsible asshole who drove his car while intoxicated on drugs and ran over a young mother. He later murders his own father and was willing to murder Robin as well.
- The Casanova: His good looks make him extremely popular with the ladies. Leaving him unattended in close proximity to an attractive woman and odds are he will have sex with her.
- The Un-Favourite: His father blamed his existence for the end of his first marriage and the end of his original political career.
Knight Family and Associates
A self-styled left-wing revolutionary opposed to London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Outwardly charming and eloquent, he is privately thuggish and possessive.
- The Casanova: The guy is utterly incapable of keeping it in his pants.
- Has a Type: He has a predilection towards having sex with barely legal teenage girls.
- Hypocrite: For all his strident left wing political talk he didn't have any scruples about pocketing money resulting from the sale of a gallows to a third world country.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: On top of everything else, Jimmy is virulently anti-Semitic.
Jimmy's younger brother with a history of mental illness.
- The Mentally Disturbed: Poor Billy is not right in the head.
- Spanner in the Works: Billy visiting Strike sets in motion events that derail two different plans:
- Drawing Strike into the situation gets him hired by Jasper Chiswell and derails the blackmail plans of both Jimmy Knight and Geraint Winn.
- Strike's involvement leads to Jasper being in the vicinity of the gallery at the right time to find out about Raphael's affair with Kinvara and force them to accelerate their plan to murder him, leading them to make several mistakes that get them caught.
Jimmy's girlfriend and accomplice in the blackmailing scheme.
Winn Family and Associates
The Minister for Sport and Jasper Chiswell's rival. A rare congenital defect means she was born without eyes, and has since become a champion of the Paralympic Games. She is highly regarded by the public, but reveals a cynical private persona.
Della's husband and member of her staff. In public, he is the doting husband, but in private, he is lecherous.
- Dirty Old Man: He is a creepy bastard who does not pass the opportunity to ogle attractive young women. He is implied to have made advances on underage girls.
A staffer in Della Winn's constituent relations office.
- Mistaken for Gay: A very dark example. A senior diplomat made sexual advances towards him that Aamir rejected. However, Aamir's family assumed he was gay and being quite homophobic they disowned him and cut all ties.
- The Woobie: Poor Aamir has had terrible luck. He was once a promising member of the Foreign Office until a senior diplomat made sexual advances towards him. When Mallik complained, his reputation was ruined, his family disowned him and the diplomat was protected despite his indiscretions being common knowledge. He finds employment within Della Winn's staff, only for Geraint to rope him into his criminal schemes and forcing him go to the diplomat who molested him to ask for favors to further Geraints vendetta against the Chiswells.
A former soldier investigated for drug offences by Strike during his army days. Barclay uncovered contractors defrauding the British taxpayer, who then planted drugs in his possession. Strike saw the charges against Barclay dropped, but could not prevent his court martial. He later hires Barclay as a freelance investigator and has him infiltrate Jimmy Knight's gang.
- Funetik Aksent: Barclay has a very heavy Scottish accent, which is rendered this way on the page.
- Hidden Depths: During their first encounter Strike realized that the simple squaddie with a taste for drugs also had the natural instincts of a first-rate investigator.
- The Mole: He doesn't just keep tabs on Jimmy, he so successfully infiltrates his group that Jimmy brings him along to search Flick's apartment.