Preston ‘Pez’ Pierce

We first hear of Preston Pierce – known as Pez – in the Red Lion and Sun in Highgate.  Strike and Barclay have tailed their surveillance targets, Seb Montgomery and Tim Ashcroft, there.  They are joined by Wally Cardew and Nils and Bram de Jong and the group discusses Pez, as he was meant to have been joining them at the pub.

Later, upon reading Katya Upcott’s list of people connected to the Ink Black Heart, Robin twigs that ‘Pez’ must be Preston Pierce, who was living at North Grove at the same time as Edie and Josh.  Katya lists him as “Liverpudlian, voiced Magspie for two episodes.” (Ch 34) 

Robin meets Pez at North Grove when she visits undercover. Pez is the model for her life drawing class.  He is described as ‘a curly haired young man in a ragged grey dressing gown … sallow-skinned, with dark shadows under his large brown eyes.”  When he takes off his dressing gown, Robin becomes “temporarily preoccupied with not looking at Preston’s penis, which was quite a bit larger than her ex-husband’s and suddenly seemed to be the only object in the room” (Ch 39).

Later, Pez chats to Robin during a break in the class. Another student mentions Edie’s murder, and Pez becomes aggressive with her. He also tells off Bram for singing a Dutch white supremacist song (Ch 39).

In chapter 65, Robin visits Highgate Cemetery in her undercover persona of Jessica Robins, where she bumps into Pez. He tells her that her art class has been cancelled and proposes that they go for a drink instead, and Robin agrees to it. On the way back to North Grove, Pez tells Robin about the art he is working on, including a cartoon about a time-travelling Victorian undertaker.  

Robin and Pez go for a drink at The Gatehouse. Pez tells her that his father has motor neurone disease and he sometimes returns to Liverpool to help look after him, which makes keeping a regular job difficult. When Robin leans toward Pez to read the words he has tattooed around his neck, he kisses her. Robin continues to interview Pez in between the kissing and flirting, and he reveals more information about the residents of North Grove and other people connected to The Ink Black Heart  (Ch 67).

Pez’s neck tattoo is a line from the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles: “It’s getting hard to be someone, But it all works out, It doesn’t matter much to me.” Pez tells Robin that he’d once had an argument with Inigo Upcott about which Beatles album includes only songs by John and Paul. Though he admits it’s cliché being from Liverpool, Pez is a big fan of The Beatles (Ch 67).

Later, Strike listens to the recording of Robin’s interview with Pez and is thoroughly disconcerted, and in fact sits “smoking and scowling at the kitchen wall for another twenty minutes before rousing himself to go to bed” (Ch 68).

Pez continues to text Robin, trying to persuade her into another date and also sends her a drawing he has done of her (Ch 79). When the police warn him that The Halvening may be targeting him, he asks Robin if he can stay at her flat but of course she makes an excuse (Ch 92) and never sees him again.