“The Old Blue Last stood at the top of Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, a snub-nosed, imposing three-storey brick building curved like the bow of a boat. Within Strike’s memory, it had been a strip club and brothel: an old school friend of his and Nick’s had allegedly lost his virginity there to a woman old enough to be his mother.”
“A sign just inside the doors announced the Old Blue Last’s rebirth as a music venue. From eight o’clock that evening, Strike saw, he would be able to enjoy live performances from the Islington Boys’ Club, Red Drapes, In Golden Tears and Neon Index. There was a wry twist to his mouth as he pushed his way into a dark wood-floored bar, where an enourmous antique mirror behind the bar bore gilded letters advertising the pale ales of a previous age. Spherical glass lamps hung from the high ceiling, illuminating a crowd of young men and women, many of whom looked like students and most dressed with a trendiness that was beyond Strike.”
Strike meets Eric Wardle at the bar and orders a pint. They sit at the only table left free and Wardle updates him on the recent forensic evidence and progress of the case. Wardle is still convinced that Digger Malley is the killer, despite Strike’s protests. Strike still believes it is Jeff Whittaker, Noel Brockbank or Donald Laing.
Later, Wardle introduces Strike to his wife, April. “He would never have guessed Wardle’s wife looked like this. For reasons he was too tired to analyse, it made him like Wardle better.” April wants Strike to attend the Islington Boys’ Club live performance, and she finally manages to persuade him to join them upstairs. April introduces herself as being a stylist and a part-time burlesque dancer. She introduces Strike to her friend Coco, who is also a burlesque dancer. Coco shows interest in Strike and at one point asks him to physically hoist her up so she can see the band over the crowd.
Strike leaves soon after, not because he didn’t enjoy the band, which he thought was quite good, but simply because he took pleasure in being able to leave at his own free will, unlike in his youth when his mother would make him come to gigs with her.
“He gained the door as the Islington Boys’ Club finished their first song. The applause overhead sounded like muffled hail on a tin roof. A minute later, he was striding away, with relief, into the swishing sound of traffic.”
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