We first meet Patricia Chauncey, the agency’s new office manager, in Troubled Blood. She is someone who could not be less impressed with Cormoran Strike. Initially, Pat and Strike share a mutual dislike for one another.
Pat is described as looking ten years older than her true age. She is a “thin woman with a deeply lined, monkeyish face and implausibly jet-black hair” and has a voice so deep that she is often mistaken for Strike on the phone. Pat is almost never seen without her vape pen in the office, and she switches to her favourite brand of cigarettes — Superking — “the moment her feet touched the pavement.”
Pat feels “none of the reverence some of their temps had displayed toward the now famous detective” and repeatedly calls Strike out on his sometimes grumpy behaviour with comments like, “Would a ‘thanks’ kill you?”
Puzzled by their contentious relationship, Robin likes Pat, and both she and Barclay praise Pat’s work ethic to Strike. “The filing was up to date, the accounts were in order, all receipts were neatly docketed, the phone was answered promptly, messages were passed on accurately, they never ran out of teabags or milk, and Pat had never once arrived late, no matter the weather and irrespective of Tube delays” (Ch 7).
Pat Chauncey has a somewhat tough exterior demeanour, and while she initially has it out for Strike, we begin to see a softer side of the office manager emerge as Troubled Blood develops. With some strong encouragement from Robin, we gradually see the tension between Strike and Pat ease as they work toward making their team a perfectly well-oiled machine.
The Ink Black Heart
In The Ink Black Heart, Pat remains the agency’s office manager. In chapter 2 we find out Andy Hutchins has handed in his notice and they give him a leaving drinks party, which Pat attends. When Robin is discussing her break up with Matthew, Pat jumps into the conversation to say that she’d have flogged the earring Sarah Shadlock had left in Robin’s bedroom.
In chapter 46, Pat has made a fruitcake for the agency to boost team morale after the workload is particularly heavy. She tells Strike that the good thing about fruitcake is that it keeps. “Not for you,” she tells Strike. “Well, not just for you.” Fruitcake is, in fact, Cormoran Strike’s favourite cake.
After an incident at the office in chapter 70, Pat and Strike go to Starbucks where Robin meets up with them. Pat is in shock and craving nicotine, so Robin goes to Boots to buy her a new e-cig. They end up going to the basement room of The Tottenham so the CID can interview her. She tells them that the worst letters the agency receives are those written in purple ink. We find out Pat lives in Kilburn, London, which meant that she could recognise the postmark on a package that was sent to the office. When Pat tries to turn down Strike’s offer of taking her home, Strike tells Pat: “Don’t worry, it’s not because I like you. Just don’t think I can find another office manager with your skillset.” Pat’s eyes fill with tears (Ch 71).
At the end of the book, Pat makes a second fruitcake specifically for Strike.
In the TV adaptation, Pat is portrayed by actress Ruth Sheen.