Sam Barclay

Sam Barclay is a former Army Rifleman from Glasgow who Strike hires as a new subcontractor in the beginning of Lethal White.1 Strike first meets Barclay while investigating a drugs case while still in the SIB. A known marijuana user, Barclay had been caught with a “kilo brick of prime Moroccan hash” in his bag. Strike believed Barclay’s story of being a scapegoat because he had not only noticed, but began documenting, corruption among his fellow officers. Strike was impressed with his methodic record keeping and initiative, an impression that probably led to Strike seeking Barclay out to work for the agency.2

Barclay is married and has recently had a baby, which has caused him to slow down his marijuana use, now only vaping occasionally and using the internet to purchase it.3 Having found it difficult to find work after leaving the army, when we meet him, Barclay has mostly been painting houses for his brother-in-law’s company.4 He seems quickly interested in the idea of investigative work and happily accepts Strike’s offer of employment.5 

Both Robin and Strike like Barclay, and Strike comments that he does “good work.” 6 Barclay becomes a key player in the Chiswell investigation by going undercover and infiltrating Jimmy Knight’s CORE activist group.7 He keeps Strike and Robin informed on Jimmy and Flick’s movements and later joins them when they literally dig for clues.8 

Barclay is a little over 30 with prematurely graying hair. He’s described as “heavy browed, with large round blue eyes and a strong jaw.” 9

In Troubled Blood, Sam Barclay continues to be the agency’s best subcontractor.10 He’s a reliable investigator, and both Strike and Robin trust him. Barclay is able to go to Strike with concerns and feedback about other employees11, and he often provides support and backup to Robin while Strike is away. 

“Of course, as Robin was well aware, she and Barclay had once gone digging for a body together, and such things create a bond.”12

1-5: Lethal White, Chapter 1
6: Lethal White, Chapter 18
7: Lethal White, Chapter 11
8: Lethal White, Chapter 65
9: Lethal White, Chapter 1
10: Troubled Blood, Chapter 3
11: Troubled Blood, Chapter 17
12: Troubled Blood, Chapter 15

Go back