Perfumes of Troubled Blood

Perfumes appear to be an important and recurring theme in Troubled Blood, emphasizing identity and how we want to be seen versus how other people see us. Here’s a list of all the perfumes mentioned in Troubled Blood:

Rive Gauche:

This is the perfume that Margot Bamborough wore. Anna tells Strike and Robin that she spent all her birthday money on a bottle after learning this, but her father stopped her from wearing it because he “couldn’t stand the smell of it.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 6

Robin spots the bottle herself while shopping in Selfridges. “Turning a corner, Robin found herself facing the Yves Saint Laurent counter, and with a sudden sharpening of interest, her eyes focused on a blue, black and silver cylinder bearing the name ‘Rive Gauche.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12


This is the perfume Robin wore for the previous five years — the scent that Matthew loved and Strike missed when she wasn’t in the office. It’s described as a “natural-smelling concoction of figs, fresh, milky and green.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12

Robin decided to buy herself some new perfume “because she’d been wearing the same scent for five years. Matthew had liked it, and never wanted her to change, but her last bottle was down to the dregs, and she had a sudden urge to douse herself in something that Matthew wouldn’t recognize.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12

4711 cologne:

Robin buys a bottle of 4711 cologne in Newton Abbot before driving to meet Strike in Falmouth. She later thinks that the cheap bottle is “nowhere near distinctive enough for a new signature scent.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12


While shopping, “Robin turned a corner and saw, standing on a counter directly ahead of her, a faceted glass bottle full of pink liquid: Flowerbomb, Sarah Shadlock’s signature scent.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12 

“‘It’s a modern classic.’ said the hopeful salesgirl, who noticed Robin looking at the glass hand grenade.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 12 

Robin remembers Matthew changing their sheets midweek in what was, likely, an attempt to hide the “loud, sweet scent.”


In search of a new scent and a “desire to be sexy and sophisticated,” Robin buys a bottle of Fracas with a gift card her parents sent for her birthday. Unfortunately, this proves to be an unsuccessful purchase when it results in headaches for Robin and reminds Strike of his ex, Lorelei. Strike finds the scent to be “cloying and sickly.”

Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche:

Robin receives this perfume as a Christmas gift from her mum, Linda. “The bottle was round; not an orb, but a flattish circle: Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche. The liquid was pale green” with a scent of “sharp lemon and nondescript flowers.” Robin wondered why her mother had picked it for her, thinking it “smelled like deodorant, generic, clean and totally without romance.” Later describing it as only giving the message: “I have washed.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 30

Pour Un Homme:

Strike’s “signature odor was that of an ashtray, overlain with a splash of Pour Un Homme on special occasions.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 13

When Robin smells it on him, she describes it as “subtle lavender.”


This is the perfume that Strike buys Robin for her thirtieth birthday. When Strike smells the Narciso, it “put him in mind of warm, musky skin, with a suggestion of bruised flowers.”

“So he carried the heavy cube of white glass which bore the unexceptional name ‘Narciso’ to the desk.”

“’Yeah, it’s a gift,’ Strike said when asked, and he waited patiently as the price sticker was peeled off and a ribbon and wrapping added. He couldn’t personally see the point, but he felt that Robin was owed a little ceremony, and her smile as she took the bag from him told him he’d answered correctly.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 73

With this last perfume of the book, Robin appears to have found the sexy, sophisticated and romantic scent she was after.