Deborah Athorn

With some luck, Strike meets Deborah Athorn when he spots her adult son, Samhain, walking down St John Street street in Clerkenwell.1 Strike had been interested in finding anyone who remembered Deborah’s late husband, Gwilherm Athorn — a man who had openly confessed to killing Margot Bamborough. 2

Deborah lives with Samhain on Albermarle Way, and both of them have Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause mild to severe intellectual disabilities. According to the Athorns’ social worker, Clare Spencer, Deborah is “high-functioning” but has social difficulties.3 Deborah does not look Strike in the eyes and, while she is cooperative during the interview, Strike has a hard time figuring out if she can’t hear him or if she’s deliberately ignoring him. 4

Deborah has large ears (common among people with Fragile X) and a “slight underbite.” She’s described as having “a prettiness in her soft face and in her dark eyes” and has long, plaited white hair. She enjoys crocheting and doing puzzles. She is very protective over her puzzles and doesn’t like others to touch them. She also tells Strike that she likes birds — the Athorns have two budgerigars named Bluey and Billy Bob. 5

1: Troubled Blood, Chapter 37
2: Troubled Blood, Chapter 20
3: Troubled Blood, Chapter 42
4, 5: Troubled Blood, Chapter 38