Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow-in-Furness, which features in Career of Evil, chapters 24 to 26, is a large town on the west coast of England. Strike and Robin go here in search of one of the suspects, Noel Brockbank. The heavily industrialized town is described in the book as being located in a geographical cul-de-sac of land. 

They journeyed through the southernmost reaches of the Lake District, passing through a town called Ulverston (‘Birthplace of Stan Laurel’), before reaching the first glimpses of a wide estuary.

Reaching Barrow, “they found themselves in an unlovely industrial estate, the road flanked by warehouses and factories, which marked the periphery of the town.”

“‘We’ll grab something to eat before we go to Brockbank’s,’ said Strike.”

“They passed a battered side entrance to Craven Park, home ground of the Barrow Raiders.”

“A Victorian technical college embellished with classical figures bore the legend Labor Omnia Vincit.”

“He fancied a beer, but with Labor Omnia Vincit in mind, agreed to Robin’s suggestion of a quick bite to eat in a nearby café.” Labor Omnia Vincit translates to “Work conquers all.”

“‘Not overselling themselves, are they?’ he muttered as he saw the name of the café: The Last Resort. It stood opposite Second Chance, which sold old clothing, and a flourishing pawnbroker’s.”

After eating at The Last Resort, which was cosy and clean, they drove to Stanley Road. “Ahead, a gigantic cream building with the name BAE SYSTEMS on it blocked any view of the seafront. The edifice was windowless and seemed to stretch a mile across, blank, faceless, intimidating.”

They reached Stanley Road, right next to BAE Systems. It was a straight street with houses on one side and a tall brick wall on the other. “‘”Nuclear Site Boundary”?’ Robin read from a sign on the wall…”

“‘Building submarines,’ said Strike, looking up at the barbed wire.”

The reached a cul-de-sac, which was deserted. “It terminated in a small parking area besides a children’s play park.”

Robin parks the Land Rover at the end of Stanley Road and gets out of the car. She takes photos of workmen, thinking one of them could be Noel Brockbank, and also takes photos of the Nuclear Site Boundary, “acting the tourist.” Meanwhile, Strike is on the phone to Eric Wardle.

Two policewomen approach the Land Rover and take details from Robin. CCTV footage had caught her taking photos of the Site Boundary. When the police officers leave, a grey-haired woman who had been watching from a nearby window came out to talk to them. The woman tells them they can find Holly Brockbank, Noel’s sister, at the bakery in Vickerstown where she works or at the Crows Nest pub later in the evening.

As the old lady describes it, The Bakery, in Vickerstown, is not far from Vengeance Street.

Parking outside in the Land Rover, Cormoran and Robin get their first glimpses of Holly, who is covered in tattoos and piercings. Sat in the car, Robin tells Strike her plan to talk to Holly herself.

Robin forms a plan to extract information on Noel Brockbank out of Holly as she drinks in her local pub, The Crows Nest.

“The pub’s windowsills bore ships in bottles…” The pub is described as having a homey feel to it, with a heavily patterned carpet that would easily conceal stains.

Going by the name of Venetia Hall, an injury lawyer, Robin approaches Holly, who is with her mates. Holly finally agrees to talk to Robin, believing she could be in for a big payout. Kevin, Holly’s Glaswegian mate, goes to play on the fruit machine.

Sitting in a corner of the pub besides a piano, Robin extracts information from a very drunk Holly, while Strike remains in the car park outside.

After the Crows Nest, Strike and Robin go to the Olympic Takeaway for fish and chips.

“‘Psychology’s loss,’ said Strike, ‘is private detection’s gain. That was bloody good going, Robin.'” He toasts her with a can of McEwan’s. Sat in the Land Rover, they discuss Noel Brockbank as a suspect and also decide to go to Market Harborough and Corby the following day. Robin phones Linda about Matthew; Strike phones his girlfriend, Elin, and arranges to meet her the following night.

Cormoran and Robin stay in a Travelodge that night, staying five rooms apart, and both thinking of the other.

“Her unruly imagination suddenly presented her with the sound of a knock on the door, Strike inviting himself in on some slim pretext . . .” She puts the thought down to Matthew “putting things in her head…”