Jasper Chiswell is the Minister for Culture and Strike and Robin’s new client. In the beginning of Lethal White, we meet the Minister when he calls their office demanding a meeting. He insists that the job is urgent and says “It has to be Mr. Strike.” (Due to his demanding tone, Robin assesses that Chiswell is “unused to not getting his way.”) Strike meets Chiswell at a “very Tory” gentlemen’s club called Pratt’s where the Minister reveals that he’s being blackmailed by two men: Jimmy Knight and Geraint Winn. Refusing to divulge the reason why he’s being blackmailed, but insisting he’s broken no laws, Chiswell explains that Jimmy Knight wants money and Geraint Winn wishes to see him thrown out of office. He wants Strike to dig up any dirt he can on either man in an effort to “fight fire with fire.”
Described as an “ambitious man” and that the Conservative party is “his life’s blood,” Jasper Chiswell has known his fair share of scandal, which has been publicized in the media. His first marriage to Lady Patricia Fleetwood ended when he had an affair with an Italian political journalist that resulted in his youngest son, Raphael. (Previous children include Freddie, Sophia and Isabella.) His current wife, Kinvara, also made headlines when she had to be hospitalized for “nervous exhaustion” and lastly, Raphael did some time in prison after he got high and crashed his car into a young mother, killing her.
Even while excited about their new case, neither Strike nor Robin find Chiswell particularly likeable. Robin dislikes his politics and finds him hypocritical, and Strike acknowledges that he wouldn’t want him as a drinking buddy. Chiswell appears to have strained relationships with the members of his family. His daughter Izzy, who runs his constituency office, finds him difficult to work with, although she defends and excuses his behavior. His relationship with his son Raphael is extremely strained due to the difficulties Raff’s legal troubles caused the family. Robin notes that Chiswell’s hostility toward his wife, Kinvara, is so apparent that she thinks “He genuinely hates her.”
Jasper Chiswell is 68 years old and described as a large man with rounded shoulders and thick gray hair that sticks out and resembles a “chimney brush” (making him a target of political cartoonists). He has a “large red face, small eyes and a protuberant lower lip,” giving him the look of an “overgrown baby perpetually on the verge of a tantrum.”