Cynthia Phipps

Having only been about a year old when her mother disappeared, Anna Phipps grew up believing that her father’s third cousin, Cynthia Phipps, was her mother until she later learned the truth about Margot Bamborough.

“I thought Cynthia was my mum. She was my childminder when I was little,” she explained. “She’s a third cousin of my father’s and quite a bit younger than him, but she’s a Phipps, too, so I assumed we were a standard nuclear family. I mean — why wouldn’t I?”

Strike and Robin interview Cynthia at Hampton Court Palace, where she works as a part-time costumed tour guide. While they review her original statement to police, we learn that Cynthia was an alibi for Roy Phipps and had been very shocked by the disappearance, explaining how much she “hero worshiped” Margot Bambourough.

“You might not believe this, but as far as I was concerned at seventeen, the best thing about Roy was Margot! No, I thought she was marvelous, so — so fashionable and, you know, lots of opinions and things.…”

At seventeen, Cynthia went to live with Margot and Roy in a “self-contained studio” above the garage at the house on Church Road and cared for baby Anna. Cynthia’s eventual marriage to Roy Phipps raised eyebrows in the media and within their own family, given their age difference of 12 years and their distant relation.5 

Cynthia appears to have an anxious demeanor, with a constant laugh that seems like “more of a tic than genuine amusement” and a habit of “jumbling affirmatives and negatives together.” She has a thin face with blue green eyes, crooked teeth and dark hair that’s half gray. Robin seems to take an immediate dislike to Cynthia, unwillingly comparing her to Sarah Shadlock, but acknowledges that she’s just being “sensitive about second wives.”


1-2: Troubled Blood, Chapter 6
3-5: Troubled Blood, Chapter 35
6: Troubled Blood, Chapters 35 & 36