“On Monday, you’re going into the House of Commons.” (Lethal White, Chapter 10)
The House of Commons is the lower house and de facto primary chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. They meet and have offices in the Palace of Westminster, with additional offices located nearby at Portcullis House. Lethal White takes Robin into uncharted territory when she goes undercover as Venetia Hall in the House of Commons. This isn’t Robin’s first time using the identity of Venetia Hall, but this time the stakes are higher as she’s impersonating the Minister for Culture’s goddaughter in an effort to “get dirt” on the man he believes to be blackmailing him.
“… From the moment that she arrived at the Palace of Westminster, she knew that what happened here would live in her memory forever. She felt a ripple of pleasure simply to leave the tourists behind and pass through the gate where the policemen stood guard. As she approached the palace, with its intricate gold moldings starkly shadowed in the early morning sun, the famous clock tower silhouetted against the sky, her nerves and her excitement mounted.” (Lethal White, Chapter 13)
Robin (or Venetia) meets Izzy Chiswell and is shown to her new temporary office.
“The office was cramped and cluttered. The arched stone windows were hung with net curtains, beyond which lay the terrace bar, where shadowy figures moved against the dazzling brightness of the Thames. There were two desks, a multitude of bookshelves and a sagging green armchair. Green drapes hung at the overflowing bookshelves that covered one wall, only partially concealing the untidy stacks of files stacked there. On top of a filing cabinet stood a TV monitor, showing the currently empty interior of the Commons, its green benches deserted.” (Lethal White, Chapter 13)
What Robin likely saw on the TV monitor:
After an unpleasant first meeting with Geraint Winn, Robin finds herself in The Members’ Lobby.
“She had blundered into a blaze of gold and colour that was increasing her feeling of oppression. The Members’ Lobby, that familiar, ornate, Victorian-gothic chamber she had seen on television, stood right outside the Commons, and on the periphery of her vision loomed four gigantic bronze statues of previous prime ministers — Thatcher, Atlee, Lloyd George and Churchill — while busts of all the others lined the walls.” (Lethal White, Chapter 13)
“They appeared to Robin like severed heads and the gilding, with its intricate tracery and richly coloured embellishments, danced around her, jeering at her inability to cope with its ornate beauty.” (Lethal White, Chapter 13)
At another point, Robin takes refuge inside the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in order to read a text from Strike, away from those who don’t know her true identity.
“The crypt was decorated like a medieval jewel casket, every inch of gold wall embellished with motifs and symbols, heraldic and religious. There were jewel-bright saints’ pictures above the altar and the sky-blue organ pipes were wrapped in gold ribbon and scarlet fleurs-de-lys.” (Lethal White, Chapter 21)
If you’d like to learn more about the Chapel of St Mary, you can find more information here.
Having to turn down Strike’s request to work that weekend so she could go away for her anniversary, Robin “let out a groan that echoed around the crypt.” (Lethal White, Chapter 21)
Awaiting Strike’s reply, “Robin got up and walked around the chapel. At the very back she found a cupboard. Opening it, she saw a plaque to suffragette Emily Davison. Apparently, she had slept there overnight so that she could give her place of residence as the House of Commons on the census of 1911, seven years before women were given the vote. Emily Davison, she could not help but feel, would not have approved of Robin’s choice to place a failing marriage above freedom to work.” (Lethal White, Chapter 21)
You can learn more about Emily Davison here.
Robin also uses the Terrace Café to find a quiet moment alone in order to review some evidence.
“… Terrace Café, which sat on the bank of the Thames, … was separated from the river by a low stone wall, which was punctuated with black iron lamps.”
From the Terrace Cafe, Robin had a wonderful view of both Westminster and Lambeth bridges.
“To the left and right stood Westminster and Lambeth bridges respectively, the former painted the green of the seats in the House of Commons, the latter scarlet like those in the House of Lords.” (Lethal White, Chapter 25)
“On the opposite bank rose the white facade of County Hall, while between the palace and hall rolled the broad Thames, its oily surface lucent gray over muddy depths.” (Lethal White, Chapter 25)
While Geraint Winn (Robin’s target) and Izzy Chiswell’s offices are located in the Palace of Westminster, Jasper Chiswell also spends a lot of time at DCMS or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport where his office is located.
You can find more information about DCMS here.
“Walking in the sunshine towards the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which stood in a large white Edwardian building a few minutes away from the Palace of Westminster, Robin found herself almost wishing that she were one of the tourists cluttering the pavement, because Chiswell had sounded bad tempered on the phone.” (Lethal White, Chapter 15)
You can find the Palace of Westminster at the map below.
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