Ryan Murphy

Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Ryan Murphy makes his debut in chapter 12 of The Ink Black Heart. 

In the middle of February 2015, after learning that Edie Ledwellhas been stabbed, Robin contacts the London Metropolitan Police (Met) and is directed to wait for officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to visit the agency office for an informal interview.

Murphy is described as “white … pleasant looking … having wavy, light brown hair … wearing civilian clothes.”

As Robin is questioned by Murphy, she notes that he has “hazel eyes … a face that is all angles … an upper lip that is fuller than the lower: which added a kind of sweetness.” 

At the end of the interview, she shakes his “large, warm, dry hand” and notes that “he was as tall as Strike, though rather slimmer.”

Robin apprises Murphy of what transpired when Edie Ledwellcame to the agency, and the CID officer makes notes; he is unaware of the definition of “Anomie,” thinks the Ink Black cartoon is “nuts” and is surprised when Robin is able to recall details of Ledwell’s appearance.

As he leaves the office, Murphy gives Robin his direct telephone number printed on a card, which she places in her purse.

A month after Ledwell is murdered, Murphy becomes the agency’s go-to contact within the Met CID when Strike makes the decision to call Murphy and tell him the agency has been engaged by Alan Yeoman and Richard Elgar to find out the identity of Anomie; Strike describes this as “a courtesy.”

However, it’s another month before Murphy makes contact, and it’s to Robin’s mobile as she makes her way to dinner with IlsaHerbert; he interrupts an episode of emotional turmoil. Murphy wants to discuss aspects of the murder case and is again surprised and “mildly impressed” when Robin easily recalls those involved in Ledwell’s life. After she tells him other information about evidence, he wonders whether they’ve found out via “some tame policeman in your pocket who’s leaking to you?”

He shares some pertinent pieces of information that Robin is unaware of and then asks her out for a drink. Reacting in an embarrassed manner to her confusion and rejection, he ends the call with “happy hunting.” During dinner at Bob Bob Ricard, Robin tells Ilsa about Murphy’s invitation describing him as “tall and … quite good-looking.”

In Chapter 34, Robin reacts vehemently to a suggestion from Strike that she should “chat-up” Murphy to gain information about Josh Blay’s movements, so further communication about the case with Murphy comes via Strike. A month after his phone call to Robin, Murphy informs Strike about the meeting between Cardew and possible members of THe Halvening at The Ship and Shovel.

Strike offers Murphy photographic evidence of the identity of a Halvening member who he admits to punching. Murphy replies,“I didn’t hear you” (in regard to the legality of the action).

Murphy appears to find a quiet location away from his CID colleagues to inform Strike that The Halvening believe Strike to be an undercover officer. Though Strike’s true identity might be unknown, Murphy advises him “to be careful about security going forward. Any unsolicited packages, call us.”

When Strike identifies the identity of Thurisaz/Jamie Kettle in chapter 46, he calls Murphy immediately and later tells Robin that his long hunt through Twitter had been worth it because “Murphy was pleased though.”

Players of Drek’s Game who are also members of The Halvening (the Peach brothers) are identified by Strike and Robin after Comic Con, and Strike contacts Murphy to tell him in part 4, chapter 62. “Fuck” is Murphy’s response. He tells Strike the CID had previously interviewed them and that “we’ve had a player in that game for weeks, but they haven’t come up with anything.”

In a follow-up phone call two days later, Murphy offers information about Charlie Peach. Before he ends the call, he asks after Robin, thinks it’s a good idea she’s hiding at home, and asks Strike to “give her my best.” 

Reflecting on the reaction by two men to her rejection of their amorous overtures, Robin thinks fondly of Murphy in chapters 56 and 68, “even though she barely knew him” because he had been polite and had not bothered her further. The next day, the agency office receives a parcel bomb; Murphy is one of two officers sent to interview Strike and Pat Chauncey, with Robin present.

At the beginning of chapter 71, we learn that Murphy drives a blue Toyota Avensis. The interview continues in The Tottenham basement bar, where Murphy makes Pat smile with his comment on their “nutter letters,” and Robin once again notices “Murphy was certainly good-looking.”

Murphy advises Strike to find elsewhere to stay and makes a faux pas by calling Strike Robin’s “boss,” which they both swiftly correct. He asks Robin where she lives, is told Walthamstow and replies, “Right by me. I live in Wanstead.” Heoffers Robin a lift home as it transpires he was actually on a day off but was specifically called in to accompany Neal Jameson, the interviewing officer. Robin is initially unsure but accepts.

They discuss Ledwell’s murder case, specifically the whereabouts of her phone, and Robin once again shocks Murphy by deducing the Met believe Phillip Ormond is involved in her death; he confirms they will arrest him.

During the journey, Ryan reveals personal information: His sister and her family live in San Sebastian, northern Spain, and he’s traveling there that day to celebrate her 40th birthday. He’s been divorced for three years but has no children because his“ex didn’t want them,” and he is aware that the agency received a leg in the post. After Robin reveals she would be interested in him re-asking her on a date, he admits to being an alcoholic, saying he’s “been sober two years, nine months.” 

In chapter 89, a few days after the bombing, Strike and Robin are invited to New Scotland Yard where Murphy and Angela Darwish share more information about The Halvening and suspects connected with The Ink Black Heart cartoon and Ledwell’s murder. As Strike and Robin leave the meeting, Murphy tells Robin he will “call her” regarding their date.

Murphy and the agency continue trading information until the dramatic end to the hunt for Anomie. We are made aware that Robin has been in personal contact with him as she provides the hospital bed-bound Strike with details about the case — and reveals she is going on a date with Murphy that evening.