Jonny Rokeby

Jonathan Leonard “Jonny” Rokeby is Cormoran Strike’s father and the frontman of the 1970s rock band The Deadbeats.1

According to Rokeby’s Wikipedia page, which Robin sneaks a peek at in The Cuckoo’s Calling, the lead singer’s birthday is August 1, 1948, and he’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as a multi-Grammy Award winner. His multi-platinum album Hold It Back was released in 1975, the year after Strike was born.2

Rokeby’s messy personal life is described as thus:

“Rokeby has been married three times: to art-school girlfriend Shirley Mullens (1969-1973), with whom he has one daughter, Maimie; to model, actress and human rights activist Carla Astolfi (1975-1979), with whom he has two daughters, television presenter Gabriella Rokeby and jewelry designer Daniella Rokeby, and (1981-present) to film producer Jenny Graham, with whom he has two sons, Edward and Al. Rokeby also has a daughter, Prudence Donleavy, from his relationship with the actress Lindsey Fanthrope, and a son, Cormoran, with 1970s supergroupie Leda Strike.”3

Relationship With Strike

Strike is estranged from his biological father. Part of the reason has to do with Rokeby’s attitude toward him — Rokeby had cheated on his wife-at-the-time with Strike’s mother, Leda, and Strike’s accidental conception and birth caused Rokeby quite a bit of financial headache when his wife divorced him over the situation.4 In fact, Rokeby denied paternity until a DNA test proved otherwise.Further, Strike has issues with his father in regards to the strange life that fame — or proximity to fame — brings. His father is a superstar and simply being his son sometimes brings Strike unwanted attention.

Many questions surround Strike’s relationship — or lack thereof — with his father. The two have met only twice.6 Strike’s half-brother Al tells Strike that their father is proud of Strike7, taking interest in his success as a private detective, and Rokeby had even previously offered to pay for Strike’s London office, but Strike refused the offer. Later, he reluctantly has to take Rokeby up on his offer, but only as a loan, not a gift.8 He would rather work round the clock to repay the loan than be beholden to his father for anything.

When Strike falls behind on his loan payments, Rokeby sics his lawyer, Peter Gillespie, on Strike to collect payment, a belligerently aggressive approach that seems entirely unjustified. Strike suspects that the only reason Rokeby offered him the money was that he “or his advisers had been nervous about the one-legged, decorated veteran selling his story. The offer of a gift was supposed to stop his mouth.”9 However, would a rock star with a typically sullied rock-star reputation really care what Strike might have to say about him?

Troubled Blood shines some new light on the issue of the loan when Al suggests that Rokeby was unaware of Gillespie hounding Strike10 and there’s an implication that the money legally belonged to Strike all along.11 

Also in Troubled Blood, Jonny Rokeby begins making quite an effort to connect with his estranged son. Whether it’s coming up on a milestone of celebrating 50 years with the Deadbeats12 or dealing with some personal health issues13, Rokeby continues to reach out to Strike through Al14, sends a card15 and eventually calls Strike on the phone.16 

When Strike recalls the two times he met his father (first at seven years old and then at eighteen), both memories are extremely painful for him and he currently has no desire to accept Rokeby’s request to talk.17 Aunt Joan, however, does think it would be a good idea for Strike to meet his father again.  “I think your father’s at the heart of … of a lot of things.”18 

Personality and Physical Appearance

Rokeby is known for having a bad temper. He once broke a saxophone player’s tooth when he slapped the end of the instrument in anger19, and on another occasion tried to strangle a bass player.20 According to Leda, “Jonny was never good on speed.”21

Besides his father being more than six feet tall, Strike looks nothing like Rokeby.22 At the time his parents were “dating,” Rokeby is described as being “androgynous and wild: hair nearly as long as Leda’s.”23 He has a “weak divergent squint that added an attractive strangeness to Rokeby’s handsome face.”24

Ciara Porter refers to Rokeby as “the rocking prune” due to his dyed hair taking on a purple sheen when viewed up close.25

1-3: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 2 Chapter 5
4: Troubled Blood, Chapter 17
5: The Silkworm, Chapter 2
6: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 2 Chapter 11
7: The Silkworm, Chapter 40
8, 9: The Silkworm, Chapter 31
10: Troubled Blood, Chapter 34
11: Troubled Blood, Chapter 58
12: Troubled Blood, Chapter 11
13: Troubled Blood, Chapter 56
14: Troubled Blood, Chapter 11
15: Troubled Blood, Chapter 19
16: Troubled Blood, Chapter 39
17: Troubled Blood, Chapter 58
18: Troubled Blood, Chapter 31
19: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 2 Chapter 8
20, 21: The Silkworm, Chapter 26
22: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 2 Chapter 5
23: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 4 Chapter 11
24: The Silkworm, Chapter 40
25: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 4 Chapter 8