Detective Inspector Richard Anstis of the Metropolitan Police is a former colleague and useful friend of Strike’s. We first meet him in The Cuckoo’s Calling when Strike calls him to obtain Eric Wardle’s name and phone number. Anstis as a connection to the Met comes in handy numerous times for Strike.
Anstis calls Strike “Mystic Bob,” a nickname he earned because of the incident that sealed their friendship. While on a mission in Afghanistan, Strike and Anstis are riding in a Viking vehicle when an IED explodes beneath them, blowing off Strike’s right foot and calf, injuring part of Anstis’ face and killing their colleague, Sergeant Gary Topley. It’s because of Strike’s inexplicable precognition of the explosion that he grabs Anstis from in front and to the right of him and throws Anstis to the back of the vehicle, saving his life in the process — thus, the Mystic Bob moniker. Anstis also gave his son, Timothy, who was born only two days before the explosion, the middle name of Cormoran and asked Strike to be the boy’s godfather. Strike agreed rather unwillingly to the honour.
The overriding physical description of Anstis is that one side of his face is “heavily scarred, the skin beneath his right eye pulled taut.” He lives in Greenwich in Ashburnham Grove, where Strike visits in The Silkworm to have dinner with the Anstises and obtain information about the Owen Quine case. Anstis’ wife is a gossipy woman named Helen (called Helly), who is the only person to ever call Strike the annoying nickname “Cormy.” Strike very much dislikes Helly for her nosiness and disingenuous warmth. The Anstises have two children, Timothy and Tilly, in The Silkworm and a third child in Career of Evil.
Anstis was always overly interested in and friendly to Charlotte, insisting that Strike bring her with him whenever they got together and telling Wardle that Charlotte looks like a super model. This, among other things about Anstis and his family, seems to annoy Strike.
Strike’s relationship with Anstis becomes problematic as they are increasingly at odds over the Quine case in The Silkworm. At one point, Robin cautions Strike that he might lose Anstis as a friend, and Strike doesn’t seem to care. His friendship with Anstis seems to be more one-sided (on the side of Anstis) and simply a product of circumstance and obligation rather than compatibility and fondness.
On a professional level, Strike does “not have a particularly high opinion of the police officer’s abilities. He thought Anstis competent but unimaginative, an efficient recognizer of patterns, a reliable pursuer of the obvious.” Additionally, Strike is of the opinion that Anstis is too straight-laced and stubborn in his viewpoints. And, true to form, Anstis chooses to charge the wrong person with the murder of Quine in The Silkworm.