One of Strike’s suspects, Jeff Whittaker is also Strike’s former stepfather, since he was Leda Strike’s much younger second husband. In fact, Whittaker is only five years older than Strike. Whittaker and Leda had a son together, Switch LaVey Bloom Whittaker.
Whittaker was charged with murdering Leda, but was found not guilty at his trial. Due to further unrelated legal problems, his grandparents were granted custody of Switch.
In Career of Evil, Robin reads a Wikipedia entry that documents Whittaker’s life. Highlights include the fact that he’s the grandson of a diplomat, who raised him; his mother was schizophrenic (citation needed); he once worked as a gravedigger (citation needed); and eight years after Leda’s death, Whittaker was brought up on charges for keeping his most recent girlfriend’s corpse in his flat for a month after she died of heart failure.
We learn from Strike that Whittaker was into death and corpses; he claimed that he used to be a gravedigger. He was also interested in Aleister Crowley, the Satanic Bible and Charles Manson.
Needless to say, Whittaker is a strange individual. In addition to what has already been mentioned, he is also known as being “an ostentatious lover of the perverse” who has a “gloating, open pleasure in everything sadistic and demonic.” Subsequently, Strike absolutely hates his guts.
Robin meets him when she is questioning Stephanie at the Stage Door Cafe, trying to establish whether or not Whittaker has an alibi at the time of one of the murders.
Even Whittaker’s appearance is strange. When Strike encounters him in present day, Whittaker is described thusly: “His yellow face looked freeze-dried like an old apple…. His matted hair was thinning at the temples…. His heretic priest’s golden eyes now set beneath wrinkled, sagging lids.”
Whittaker is a crackhead, violently abusive to his girlfriends and animals, doesn’t bathe very often and wears the same stinking clothes for days on end. What is there not to like?
In the TV series adaptation, Jeff Whittaker is portrayed by actor Matt King. Read our interview with him here.