Penny Polworth

Although we hear about Penny in The Silkworm,1 we don’t actually meet her until Troubled Blood. Penny is the wife of Strike’s oldest friend, Dave Polworth. The Polworths recently moved back to St. Mawes when Dave takes a job as head gardener at a garden near the coast. (Something he didn’t mention to Penny until it was done.)2

From Strike’s perspective, the Polworths have a relationship filled with “mutual animosity.” 

“Strike had more often heard Penny refer to her husband as ‘that twat’ than by his name.…” 3

He even jokes at the end of the book to Robin that women, including Penny, don’t like Polworth: 

“‘Women don’t usually like Polworth.’

‘I thought he was married?’

‘He is. His wife doesn’t like him.’

Robin laughed.” 4

Penny and Dave have two daughters named Mel and Rozwyn. Penny is described as having dark eyes and a blunt nose and has worn her hair in a “practical ponytail since she was five.” 5

In The Ink Black Heart, Penny and Dave attend Strike’s fortieth birthday dinner, where they meet Robin for the first time. Robin makes laboured small talk with Penny, “whose main topics of conversation were her two children, how expensive everything in London was, and what a twat her husband was” (Ch 2).

1: The Silkworm, Chapters 44 & 45
2, 3: Troubled Blood, Chapter 1
4: Troubled Blood, Chapter 72
5: Troubled Blood, Chapter 48