John Bristow is described as “rabbity in appearance, with a short upper lip that failed to conceal large front teeth; his colouring was sandy, and his eyes, judging by the thickness of his glasses, myopic; but his dark grey suit was beautifully tailored, and the shining ice-blue tie, the watch and the shoes all looked expensive.” The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 1, Chapter 3.
John was adopted by Alec and Yvette Bristow. His adoptive brother, Charlie Bristow, who had been good friends with Cormoran Strike at Blakeyfield Prep School, died at the age of nine after falling off the edge of a quarry whilst holidaying in Wales with the family. Shortly after Charlie’s death, Yvette and Alec adopted Lula Landry, who was four years of age at the time. John was eleven years older than Lula.
John works for the family law firm, Landry, May, Patterson, and is a very wealthy man with a trust fund. “I’m a pretty rich man, Strike. Sorry to be crass about it, but there you are.” He started dating Alison Cresswell, who also works at the firm, shortly after Lula’s death.
On Monday, 29th March 2010, John goes to Strike’s office to hire him as a detective. Not accepting Lula’s suicide, he wanted Strike to reinvestigate and offers to pay a double fee.
Throughout the investigation, Strike and John have regular contact via phone; they also meet for lunch at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen to discuss the progress of the case and for John to give Strike Lula’s laptop.
Strike being in a bad place financially, having John Bristow as a client is extremely helpful.