Leda Strike was Cormoran Strike‘s mother by famous musician Jonny Rokeby. She was a famous supergroupie in the 1970s, and although Strike’s father was the lead singer of the rock band the Deadbeats, Leda’s favourite band was Blue Oyster Cult. She was also the mother to Lucy, whose father is Rick Fantoni (also a musician), and Switch Whittaker, whose father is Jeff Whittaker.
Leda is described as having a “heart-shaped face,” “shining dark hair” and “marmoset eyes.” She was very stylish.
At eighteen years old, Leda married Mr. Strike and stayed with him for only two weeks. According to Strike’s aunt Joan (Leda’s sister-in-law), Leda’s “sole motivation in marrying Strike Snr. (who … had arrived in St. Mawes with the fair) had been a new dress, and a change of name.” Indeed, Leda maintained the surname Strike, even bestowing it upon her son, who never knew and is not related to the original Strike.
Leda led a chaotic, bohemian, profligate, impoverished lifestyle, never staying put in one place more than a short time, and many of those places qualified as squats. Her life was filled with drugs and wild parties and musicians (“some of them decent, most of them not”) — a “reckless quest for thrills and highs.”
At one point she worked as a receptionist (“a minor, living piece of rock history employed as a kind of totem on the front desk”) for a record company, where she met Jeff Whittaker, a guitarist, singer and lyricist for a number of different thrash metal bands. In 1992, Leda married Whittaker, the ceremony taking place at the Marylebone registry office. Whittaker was later charged with murdering her and found not guilty.
Regardless of his mother’s notoriety, both publicly and within the family, Strike remembers his mother as loving and adoring, willfully “focusing on her hugs and her laughter, her maternal delight in his achievements.” She was kind, even taking in and caring for (to the best of her sloppy ability) a battered teen at one point. From his mother, Strike learned to live a life of “constant uprootings, self-reliance and the endless appeal of the new.” He also learned not to get to know his girlfriends’ children, because he has “no desire to see in another child’s eyes the fear and mistrust that he had read in his sister Lucy’s every time the door opened onto yet another male stranger.” Because of his mother’s bad judgement when it comes to male companionship, Strike finds himself as an older teen feeling the need to protect her.
Leda’s favourite Blue Oyster Cult song was “Mistress of the Salmon Salt” and she had lyrics from the song tattooed on herself. At one point, she was photographed in the nude, and these tattoos were on display in these photos.
Leda died in 1994 around the age of 40 from a heroin overdose, which was eventually ruled as a suicide, in a squat on Fulbourne Street in Whitechapel. Strike is convinced that Whittaker murdered Leda. His suspicion is drawn from many reasons, one of which is his mother’s “eschewal of heroin in all its forms.”