Troubled Blood: The Faerie Queene Epigraphs

Below is a list of all The Faerie Queene epigraphs from Troubled Blood. We’ve done our best to explain how they relate to each chapter and try to uncover the deeper meanings!

Please be warned that there are MAJOR SPOILERS for Troubled Blood below, including the identity of the killer! 


“There they her sought, and every where inquired,
Where they might tydings get of her estate;
Yet found they none. But by what hapless fate,
Or hard misfortune she was thence conveyed,
And stolen away from her beloved mate,
Were long to tell…”
Edmund Spenser
The Faerie Queene Book 4 Canto VI, XLVII  / 6, 47

“For, if it were not so, there would be something disappearing into nothing, which is mathematically absurd.”
Aleister Crowley
The Book of Thoth

Both of these above passages are referring to Margot’s disappearance.

“Then came the jolly Sommer…”
 Book 7 Canto VII, XXIX / 7, 29

The book opens up on a warm August night.

Chapter 1
“And such was he, of whom I have to tell,
The champion of true justice, Artegall…” Book 5, Canto I, III / 1, 3

Strike is reintroduced to us and compared to Artegall who, in The Faerie Queene, is the hero of book 5. Both Artegall and Strike are champions of justice.

Chapter 2
“Heart, that is inly hurt, is greatly eas’d
With hope of thing, that may allay his Smart…” Book 3 Canto II, XV / 2, 15

Opening up with Strike in Cornwall, dealing with his Aunt Joan’s diagnosis, his hurt is eased not only by Robin, but by the idea of investigating a cold case.

Chapter 3
“But now of Britomart it here doth neede,
The hard adventures and strange haps to tell” Book 4 Canto V, XXVIII / 3, 28

Robin is reintroduced to us and compared to Britomart. In The Faerie Queene, Britomart is her own knight. She fights her own battles and is a strong woman … who also happens to be in love with Artegall.  

Chapter 4
“Begotten by two fathers of one mother,
Though of contrarie natures each to other…” Book 4, Canto X, XXXII / 5, 32

With Strike and Lucy’s argument in this chapter, this is referring to the half siblings being very different from each other.

Chapter 5
“He little answer’d, but in manly heart
His mightie indignation did forbeare,
Which was not yet so secret, but some part
Thereof did in his frowning face appear…”  Book 4 Canto I, XLV / 1, 45

When Robin first sees Strike, she can tell he’s upset and later learns about his fight with Lucy. To Robin, who knows him so well, his feelings are written all over his face.

Chapter 6
“Faire Lady, hart of flint would rew
The undeserved woes and sorrows, which ye shew.” Book 1 Canto II, XXVI / 1, 26

Anna tells her story to Strike and Robin — her undeserved woes and sorrows.

Chapter 7
“Long they thus travelled in friendly wise,
Through countreyes waste, and eke well edified…” Book 3, Canto I, XIV / 1, 14

Strike and Robin driving back to London from Cornwall. “Well edified” telling us that they’re both uplifted by the other’s company.

“Then came the Autumne all in yellow clad…” Book 7 Canto VII, XXX / 7, 30

It’s autumn….

Chapter 8
“Full dreadful things out of that baleful book
He read…” Book 3 Canto XII, XXXVI / 7, 36

Strike begins reading about Dennis Creed in The Demon of Paradise Park. Dreadful things, indeed.

Chapter 9
“Faire Sir, of friendship let me now you pray,
That as I late adventured for your sake,
The hurts whereof me now from battell stay,
Ye will me now with like good turne repay.” Book 4 Canto I, XL / 1, 40

Since Robin is upset that Strike has forgotten her birthday (again), the epigraph is saying that she’s wanting a sign of returned friendship from him especially after everything they’ve been through together.

Chapter 10
And if by looks one may the mind aread,
He seemed to be a sage and sober syre…” Book 2 Canto I, VII / 1, 7

Strike interviews Dr Gupta. He finds the doctor to be wise and a good witness.

Chapter 11
It fortuned forth faring on his way,
He saw from far, or seemed for to see
Some troublous vprore or contentious fray.” Book 2 Canto IV, III / 4, 3

Trouble is ahead. In this chapter, Strike learns that he’s getting a mess of a police file, he receives the first of many upsetting texts from Al and he realizes he’s forgotten Robin’s birthday … again.

Chapter 12
With flattering words he sweetly wooed her,
And offered faire gifts, t’allure her sight,
But she both offers and the offerer
Despised, and all the fawning of the flatterer.” Book 3 Canto VIII, XXXVIII / 8, 38

Robin knows Strike forgot her birthday so she is unimpressed with his eventual birthday wishes and gift. It could also apply to Morris, who also brings her an unwanted gift and tries to sweet talk her.

Chapter 13
Thence forward by that painful way they pas,
Forth to an hill, that was both steep and high;
On top whereof a sacred chappell was,
And eke a little hermitage thereby.” Book 1 Canto X, XLVI / 5, 46

Strike and Robin taking “Margot’s route” through Clerkenwell to retrace her steps on the night she disappeared.

Chapter 14
In which there written was with cyphres old…” Book 3 Canto II, XXV / 2, 25

Strike and Robin review old newspaper reports that Strike printed from the British Library about Margot’s disappearance.

“… Winter, clothëd all in frieze…” Book 7 Canto VII, XXXI  / 7, 31

It’s winter….

Chapter 15
Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain…” Book 1 Canto I, I

This might be talking about Robin’s old wounds — the chapter mentions her attacks, but also (and maybe more importantly) her learning in therapy that she’s the peacemaker in her family/life, something that has caused her great stress and pain. 

Chapter 16
Behold the man, and tell me Britomart,
If ay more goodly creature thou didst see;
How like a Giant in each manly part
Beares he himself with portly majesty…” Book 3 Canto III, XXXII / 3, 32

We love this one! It’s basically saying: Look, Robin, have you ever seen a better man for you?! Bonus points for the reference to him being like a giant. “Portly” in the 16th century meant having a stately or dignified appearance. It’s especially relevant because this is the first time we see Robin acknowledge a liking for Strike’s appearance.

“She seemed to have forgotten over the previous six days how large he was. Hunched over the newspaper, he reminded her of a black bear, stubble thick on his face, tucking into a bacon and egg ciabatta roll, and Robin felt a wave of liking simply for the way he looked.”

Chapter 17
But thou … whom frowning froward fate
Hath made sad witness of thy fathers fall…” Book 2 Canto I, XXXVII / 1, 37

There might be a dual meaning here with Jonny Rokeby and Bill Talbot. Both Strike and Gregory Talbot are thinking of their fathers in this chapter.

Chapter 18
So the fayre Britomart having disclosed
Her clowdy care into a wrathful stower,
The mist of grief dissolved…” Book 3 Canto IV, XIII / 4, 13

Having an appointment with her divorce lawyer, Robin is experiencing a lot of pain over Matthew and the trouble he’s causing; however, her grief is dissolved later in the chapter due to chocolate and a phone call with Strike.

Chapter 19
There did I find mine only faithful friend
In heavy plight and sad perplexity;
Whereof I sorie, yet my selfe did bend,
Him to recomfort with my companie.” Book 4 Canto VIII, LVII / 8, 57

Strike’s mood on his birthday is darkened by the many difficulties in his life, especially the birthday card from Rokeby, but Robin’s company and thoughtfulness cheers him up.

Chapter 20
And if that any ill she heard of any,
She would it eeke, and make much worse by telling,
And take great joy to publish it to many,
That every matter worse was for her melling.” Book 5 Canto XII, XXXV / 7, 35

Janice and Irene telling their stories. Irene enjoys gossiping and takes “great joy to publish it to many” while Janice’s misdirection makes “every matter worse.”

Chapter 21
Well then, sayd Artegall, let it be tried.
First in one ballance set the true aside.
He did so first; and then the false he laid
In th’other scale…” Book 5 Canto II, XLV / 2, 45

Strike and Robin sorting through what they’ve just been told and separating what’s true from what’s false.

Chapter 22
And later times things more unknown shall show.
Why then should witlesse man so much misweene
That nothing is but that which he hath seene?
What if within the Moones fayre shining sphere,
What if in every other starre vnseene
Of other worlds he happily should hear?” Book II: The Legend of Sit Guyon, III

Strike is home alone on the evening of his birthday and thinking about his relationship with Robin and his fears about moving forward. The epigraph is posing the question: What if? What if there is something better than what he knows or thinks he wants? (Interpretation by Clara)

Chapter 23
It is the mind, that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poor:
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest store;
And other, that hath little, askes no more,
But in that little is both rich and wise.” Book 6 Canto IX, XXX / 9, 30

Our thoughts are what make us content, rather than our circumstances. Both Strike and Robin are facing difficulties, but it’s their feelings and thoughts that are tormenting them. (Interpretation by Clara)

Chapter 24
“… my delight is all in joyfulness,
In beds, in bowers, in banquets, and in feasts:
And ill becomes you with your lofty crests,
To scorn the joy, that jove is glad to seek…” Book 3 Canto VI, XXII /  6, 22

There is joy to be found in beds and bed chambers, in banquets and feasting, and you can pretend to be above all that, but even the divine seeks pleasure. So Margot might have been an intelligent, focused woman, but she still sought pleasure and joy. While Strike and Robin are both pretending they don’t need all that! (Interpretation by Clara)

Chapter 25
All those were idle thoughts and fantasies,
Deuces, dreams, opinions unsound,
Shewes, visions, sooth-sayes, and prophesies;
And all that fained is, as leasings, tales, and lies.” Book 2 Canto IX, LI / 9, 51

The perfect way to describe Oakden’s book that Strike is reading: opinions unsound.

Chapter 26
All were faire knights, and goodly well beseene,
But to faire Britomart they all but shadows beene.” Book 3 Canto I, XLV / 1, 45

What Robin cares most about … is Strike. We see that care come through when she makes a sick Strike tea even when he denies that he needs it.

Chapter 27
His name was Talus, made of iron mold,
Immovable, resistlesse, without end.
Who in his hand an iron flale did hould,
With which he thresht out falsehood, and did truth unfold.” Book 5 Canto I, XII / 1, 7

In The Faerie Queene, Talus was a big living metal statue that literally had an Achilles’ heel. Strike’s Achilles’ heel here is most obviously his illness, but it’s also his fixation on pretending he isn’t in love with Robin, which makes the shopping trip even more stressful. (Interpretation by Clara)

Chapter 28
Greatly thereat was Britomart dismayed,
Ne in that stownd wist, how her selfe to beare…” Book 3 Canto XI, XXII / 11, 22

There is much for Robin to be dismayed about: Strike’s gift, feeling empty and sad on the train, having to hear about Matthew and putting on a happy face about the baby. ‘Stownd wist’ means ‘stunned knowledge,’ as her mum didn’t know about Matthew, and Robin has to deal with her family’s reactions as well. (Interpretation by Clara)

Chapter 29
Thus warred he long time against his will,
Till that through weakness he was forced at last
To yield himself unto the mighty ill,
Which, as a victor proud, ’gan ransack fast
His inward parts and all his entrails waste…” Book 3 Canto V, XLVIII / 5, 48

Strike is very sick. Battling the flu, having to watch something awful, and everything else he’s battling in his life.

Chapter 30
Ah dearest Dame, quoth then the Paynim bold,
Pardon the error of enraged wight,
Whom great grief made forget the raines to hold
Of reasons rule…” Book 1 Canto IV, XLI / 4, 41

This is referring to Morris sending Robin the unwanted photo and his response to her anger.

Great enemy… is wicked Time…” Book 3 Canto VI, XXXIX / 6, 39

The year they have to investigate Margot’s disappearance is slipping away.

Chapter 31
Deare knight, as deare, as ever knight was deare,
That all these sorrows suffer for my sake,
High heaven behold the tedious toyle, ye for me take…” Book 1 Canto XI, I / 11, 1

Strike is Joan’s knight in this chapter. Talking with her and opening up, sharing things that while difficult for him, bring her so much joy. Another way to look at it is that he’s Margot’s knight, as he’s trying to figure out what happened to her. He’s just recovered from his illness — an illness that was made worse by the poisoned chocolates; something he receives because he’s investigating her disappearance.

Chapter 32
Where ever yet I be, my secrete aide
Shall follow you.” Book 1 Canto IV, LI / 4, 51

It’s slightly funny that the epigraph mentions following someone when Robin is seen in this chapter following Elinor Dean on foot; however, it’s likely referring to Strike and Robin. Even though they are far apart while Strike is in Cornwall, they’re able to connect over the phone and provide the other comfort.

Chapter 33
For he the tyrant, which her hath in ward
By strong enchantments and black Magicke leare,
Hath in a dungeon deep her close embard…
There he tormented her most terribly,
And day and night afflicts with mortall paine…” Book 3 Canto XI, XVI /11, 16

Robin reads more of The Demon of Paradise Park, which gives us more horrible insight into Creed and what he did.

Chapter 34
“… no Art, nor any Leach’s Might…
Can remedy such hurts; such hurts are hellish Pain.” Book 6 Canto VI, I / 6, 1

Some hurts you can’t get over, and Strike is facing some of those hurts in this chapter with his thoughts on Rokeby and receiving more texts from Al and Prudence.

Chapter 35
“… fayre Aurora, rysing hastily,
Doth by her blushing tell, that she did lye
All night in old Tithonus frozen bed,
Whereof she seems ashamed inwardly.” Book 3 Canto III, XX / 3, 20

Strike and Robin meet Cynthia Phipps, who has some defensiveness and maybe even feels ashamed by some of the things in her past.

Chapter 36
He oft finds med’cine who his grief imparts;
But double griefs afflict concealing hearts,
As raging flames who striveth to suppress.” Book 1 Canto II, XXXIV / 2, 34

It can be healing to share your pain and grief with others, as we see here with Roy Phipps.

Chapter 37
Spring-headed Hydres, and sea-shouldring Whales,
Great whirlpooles, which all fishes make to flee,
Bright Scolopendraes, arm’d with siluer scales
Mighty Monoceros, with immeasured tayles…
The dreadfull Fish, that hath deserved the name Of Death…” Book 2 Canto XII, XXIII / 7, 23

This is talking about monsters and fears that lurk under the surface. When Strike begins to look inwardly and deal with growth, it can be scary to be vulnerable and face those fears (especially when it comes to his feelings for Robin). However, The Faerie Queene explains that the monsters aren’t real, but rather an illusion to keep us from continuing our journey. So maybe Strike and Robin don’t need to be afraid. (Interpretation by pools_of_ventianblue)

Chapter 38
So long in secret cabin there he held
Her captive to his sensual desire;
Till that with timely fruit her belly swell’d,
And bore a boy unto that savage sire…” Book 1 Canto VI, XXIII / 6, 23

In this chapter, we meet the Athorns. There are some unpleasant implications about what Deborah’s life was like with Gwilherm. Also as mentioned in the epigraph, she had his son. Of course, there is also the fact that Strike is now in the place where Margot’s body is and the first line being ‘so long in secret cabin there he held her’.

Chapter 39
“… they thus beguile the way,
Until the blustring storme is overblown…
They cannot find that path, which first was shown,
But wander too and fro in ways unknown…” Book 1 Canto I, X / 1, 5

Strike and Robin are on such different pages here. They cannot seem to find each other and are lost with so much miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Chapter 40
Thus as they words amongst them multiply,
They fall to strokes, the fruit of too much talk…” Book 6 Canto XI, XVI / 11, 16

The disastrous dinner party and the argument that starts between Strike and Courtney and Kyle — “too much talk…”

Chapter 41
With that they gan their shivering spears to shake,
And deadly points at eithers breast to bend,
Forgetful each to have bene ever others friend.” Book 4 Canto II, XIV / 2, 14

Strike and Robin with their spears pointed at each other, screaming at each other in the street.

Chapter 42
“… his late fight
With Britomart, so sore did him offend,
That ryde he could not, till his hurts he did amend.” Book 3 Canto X, I / 10, 1

Strike is upset by the fight with Robin and realizes that he has to fix things before he leaves for Cornwall.

Chapter 43
And you faire Ladie knight, my dearest Dame,
Relent the rigor of your wrathful will,
Whose fire were better turn’d to other flame;
And wiping out remembrance of all ill,
Graunt him your grace…” Book 4 Canto VI, XXXII / 6, 32

Strike’s sincere apology is happily accepted by Robin, and they’re able to move forward in their friendship and partnership.

Chapter 44
Huge sea of sorrow, and tempestuous grief,
Wherein my feeble barke is tossed long,
Far from the hoped haven of relief,
Why doe thy cruel billowes beat so strong,
And thy moist mountains each on others throng,
Threatening to swallow vp my fearful lyfe?” Book 3 Canto IV, VIII / 4, 8

Referencing Joan’s death with sorrow and grief. Joan has been sick for a long time, and the thing they have been dreading is here.

Chapter 45
Of ancient time there was a springing well,
From which fast trickled forth a silver flood,
Full of great virtues, and for medicine good.” Book 1 Canto XI, XXIX / 11, 29

Robin is in Leamington Spa, a town that became popular for its water and its supposed medicinal qualities. Of course, ‘full of great virtues’ also ties in with Robin’s thoughts on Strike in this chapter and all the things she values loves about him. There’s also more talk of water here. Up until now, the water has been dangerous storms or full of monsters, but here it seems to represent life and hope after the last few chapters, which were so transformative.

Chapter 46
Whereas that Pagan proud him selfe did rest,
In secret shadow by a fountaine side:
Even he it was, that earst would have suppressed
Faire Una…” Book 1 Canto VI, XL / 6, 40

Robin finds Paul Satchwell in Leamington Spa, even though she wasn’t expecting to. If we compare Margot to Una in The Faerie Queene, the last two lines of the epigraph remind us that Satchwell was the one who first suppressed Margot, since we know he was her first love and also extremely abusive.

Chapter 47
“… the sacred Oxe, that carelesse stands,
With gilden hornes, and flowery girlonds crownd…
All suddenly with mortall stroke astownd,
Doth groueling fall…
The martiall Mayd stayd not him to lament,
But forward rode, and kept her ready way…” Book 3 Canto IV, XVII / 4, 17

Satchwell tries to dress himself up and conceal his cruel side, but Robin isn’t fooled. She stays focused and gets the information she needs from the interview.

Chapter 48
Sir Artegall, long having since,
Taken in hand th’exploit…
To him assynd, her high behest to doo,
To the sea shore he gan his way apply…” Book 5 Canto XII, III / 12, 3

Strike follows through with the promise he made to Joan and honors her wishes for after her life. The “to the sea” is especially significant, given her request for her ashes to be spread at sea. 

“… lusty Spring, all dight in leaves of flowers…” Book 7 Canto VII, XXVIII  / 7, 28

It’s spring….

Chapter 49
After long storms and tempests overblown,
The sun at length his joyous face doth clear;
So whenas fortune all her spite hath shown,
Some blissful hours at last must needs appear;
Else would afflicted wights oft-times despair…” Book 5 Canto III, I

After all the storms and difficult times, the sun is starting to shine again. The sunshine is mentioned a few times in this chapter, and Strike thinks about how he’s happier than he’s been in months. 

“Lately he, too, had had moods where the sound of other people’s cheerfulness grated, but at this moment, with the sunshine, the good coffee and Robin beside him, he suddenly realized he was happier than he’d been in months.”

Chapter 50
Aye me (said she) where am I, or with whom?
Among the living, or among the dead?” Book 4 Canto VII, XI  / 7, 11

Strike surprises Janice by showing up at her home unannounced. Questioning if she’s “among the living or among the dead” is particularly interesting since we know, in hindsight, that she has photos and obituaries of all her victims in her home.

Chapter 51
“… neuer think that so
That Monster can be mastered or destroyed:
He is not, ah, he is not such a foe,
As steele can wound, or strength can overthrow.” Book 2 Canto IV, X /4, 10

In this chapter, Robin meets with Brian Tucker, the father of a young woman who went missing and is believed to be a victim of Dennis Creed. The epigraph is referring to Creed being a monster and the feeling that Creed can’t be defeated. This seems especially significant for Tucker, who cannot prove that Creed killed his daughter and knows that Creed holds the answer.

Chapter 52
Oft Fire is without Smoke.” Book 1, Canto I, XII / 1, 7

There’s a lot happening in this chapter, but when Strike and Robin meet during surveillance and discuss the case, they talk about undetected murders — which very much fits our killer. She is the fire, but no one suspects because she causes no smoke. She appears sweet, kind and innocent. (Interpretation by ZoeSong)

“How many murders,” Robin asked, “d’you think go undetected?”
“Clue’s in the question, isn’t it? ‘Undetected’—impossible to know. But yeah, it’s those quiet, domestic deaths you wonder about. Vulnerable people picked off by their own families, and everyone thinking it was ill health—”

Chapter 53
Like three faire branches budding farre and wide,
That from one root derived their vitall sap:
And like that roote that doth her life divide,
Their mother was…” Book 4 Canto II, XLIII /2, 43

In this chapter, Strike and Robin interview the three Bayliss sisters. This epigraph is referring to their mother, Wilma, as the root from which these three branches grew.

Chapter 54
But nothing new to him was that same pain;
Nor pain at all; for he so oft had tried
The power thereof, and lov’d so oft in vain.” Book 3 Canto IX, XXIX / 9, 29

Charlotte contacts Strike via text message and attempts to take her own life. The epigraph reinforces how painful this relationship has been for Strike, how much he tried and that his love was in vain. 

Chapter 55
Of louers sad calamities of old,
Full many piteous stories do remain…” Book 4, Canto I, I

While Strike reflects on his relationship with Charlotte in the aftermath of her suicide attempt, Robin finally comes face to face with Matthew at mediation. 

Chapter 56
Whereas this Lady, like a sheep astray,
Now drowned in the depth of sleepe all fearlesse lay.” Book 4 Canto VIII, XXXVI / 8, 36

Strike and Robin interview fearless Betty Fuller, who some might say was like a sheep astray. The second line could be referencing what she did for Brenner and/or her current life in the nursing home.  

Chapter 57
But all his mind is set on mucky pelfe,
To hoard vp heapes of evil gotten masse,
For which he others wrongs, and wrecks himself.” Book 3 Canto IX, IV / 9, 4

Strike and Robin interview Carl Oakden, and the epigraph is reminding us how truly awful he is. It’s saying he’s a thief and it tells us that he wrongs others and wrecks himself in the process. 

Chapter 58
His lovely words her seemed due recompense
Of all her passed paines: one loving hour
For many years of sorrow can dispense:
A dram of sweete is worth a pound of sowre:
She has forgot, how many, a woeful stowre
For him she late endured; she speaks no more
Of past…
Before her stands her knight, for whom she toiled so sore.” Book 1 Canto III, XXX / 3, 30

A chapter that many fans have likely read at least a few times! Strike and Robin come closer than ever before to moving their relationship forward. This epigraph is talking about how Strike opening up to Robin (and vice versa), spending a “loving hour,” expressing (partly) what they mean to each other has overshadowed the hard times. That this man, her main man, is her knight.  

Chapter 59
The warlike Britonesse…
… with such uncouth welcome did receive
Her fayned Paramour, her forced guest,
That being forst his saddle soon to leave,
Him selfe he did of his new love deceive:
And made him selfe then ample of his follie.
Which done, she passed forth not taking leave,
And left him now as sad, as whilome iollie,
Well warned to beware with whom he dar’d to dallie.” Book 4 Canto I, XXXVI / 1, 36

The warlike Robin finally standing up to Morris! Her forced guest is thrown from his saddle by Robin confronting him, and his own foolishness is to blame. That last line: He really should have known who he was messing with. 

So past the twelve Months forth, and their dew places found.” Book 7 Canto VII, XLIII / 7, 43

They are quickly approaching the end of the twelve months they were given to solve Margot’s disappearance.

Chapter 60
Fortune, the foe of famous cheuisaunce
Seldome (said Guyon) yields to vertue aide,
But in her way throws mischief and mischaunce,
Whereby her course is stopt, and passage staid.” Book 2 Canto IX, VIII / 9, 8

The word “cheuisaunce” was said to be incorrectly used by Spenser here to mean “chivalry,” which indicates that the epigraph is saying that chance is the foe of chivalry. In this chapter, Strike is still adamant that Robin stay far away from the Riccis, something she later wonders is because of some form of misplaced chivalry. Strike encounters some unfortunate chance when he’s recognized by an old acquaintance near the nursing home, and Robin throws in some mischief by going behind Strike’s back.

Chapter 61
Then when the second watch was almost past,
That brazen door flew open, and in went Bold Britomart…” Book 3 Canto XII, XXIX / 12, 29

Robin takes her chance and goes in to see Niccolo Ricci.

Chapter 62
Oftimes it haps, that sorrows of the mind
Find remedy unsought, which seeking cannot find.” Book 6 Canto IV, XXVII / 5, 27

The epigraph is saying that sometimes we find remedies to our troubles when we’re not looking for them. The fight over Robin visiting Ricci without Strike’s knowledge and their subsequent resolution in this chapter is something they’ve really needed to discuss since he fired her in Career of Evil. They didn’t realize how badly this needed to be addressed, but both feel better once it is and it’s something that will really allow their relationship and partnership to grow.

This can also be applied to the Bamborough case. Anna and Kim have decided to end the investigation, leaving Strike and Robin no longer employed to find answers. When the pressure is off and no one is hoping for the case to be solved is when they get some major breaks that lead to the killer.

Chapter 63

At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some end they find or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemed most bare,
And like to lead the labyrinth about…” Book 1 Canto I, XI / 1, 11

Strike admits to Robin that he’s still investigating the Bamborough case. They want to find answers but the more they look, the more questions they find.

“It’s like a maze. Moment I start thinking I’m getting somewhere, I turn a corner and come up against a dead end. Or find myself back where I started. Why are you looking so pleased?”
“I’m just glad you haven’t given up,” said Robin.”

Chapter 64
“… his hand did quake,
And tremble like a leaf of Aspin greene,
And troubled blood through his pale face was seen
To come, and go with tidings from the heart,
As it a ronning messenger had beene.” Book 1 Canto IX, LI  / 9, 51

This epigraph is likely referring to Steve Douthwaite. He and his wife were both taken aback by Strike and Robin showing up and asking questions about Margot. Douthwaite appears slightly nervous, as the epigraph suggests, and the use of the title phrase “troubled blood” is referring to blushing. The blushing face and shaky hands give a lot away, and Strike senses Douthwaite is withholding information.

Chapter 65
Like as a ship, that through the Ocean wide
Directs her course unto one certain cost,
Is met of many a counter wind and tide,
With which her winged speed is let and crost,
And she herself in stormie surges tossed;
Yet making many a borde, and many a bay,
Still winneth way, ne hath her compasse lost:
Right so it fares with me in this long way,
Whose course is often stayed, yet never is astray.” Book 6 Canto XII, I /12, 1

Obviously, there’s a connection with Strike and Robin being in Skegness and at the seaside, but this epigraph is also saying that no matter how many storms they go through, no matter how many times they’re thrown off course or lose their bearings, if they stay the course, they’ll find their way. Whether this is talking about the case or their personal relationship is up for interpretation, but maybe it’s both.

Chapter 66
Speak, thou frail woman, speak with confidence.” Book 7 Canto VI, XXV / 6, 25

Strike and Robin finally get a chance to speak with Gloria Conti and hear her story.

Chapter 67
There by the uncertain glims of starry night,
And by the twinkling of their sacred fire,
He mote perceive a little dawning sight…” Book 6 Canto VIII, XLVIII / 8, 48

Strike and Robin are discussing the Bamborough case after their phone interview with Gloria Conti and have a lightbulb moment (“dawning sight”) that makes all the pieces start to fit.

Chapter 68
“… an Hyena was,
That feeds on womens flesh, as others feed on grass.” Book 3 Canto VII, XXII / 8, 22

Strike is at Broadmoor to interview serial killer Dennis Creed.

Chapter 69
Beare ye the picture of that Ladies head?
Full lively is the semblaunt, though the substance dead.” Book 2 Canto IX, II / 9, 2

Both Margot Bamborough and Louise Tucker went missing and were never heard from again. There’s a hope that they could still be alive, but Strike and Robin discuss in this chapter where they believe their remains are. There’s also a reference to a literal picture of a lady’s head, with Joanna Hammond’s face mole confirmed.

Chapter 70
“… and lastly Death;
Death with most grim and grisly visage seene…” Book 7 Canto VII, XLVI / 7, 46

At long last … Margot’s body has been found.

Chapter 71
Such is the face of falsehood, such the sight
Of fowle Duessa, when her borrowed light
Is laid away, and counterfesaunce knowne.” Canto VIII, XLIX

In The Faerie Queene, Duessa is an ugly witch who often disguises herself as a beautiful woman, hiding her true self from the world. Duessa represents falsehood and deceit — the perfect epigraph for confronting this killer who hides behind a cheerful, friendly and caring facade.

Then came October full of merry glee…”  Book 1 Canto VII, XXXIX / 7, 39

It’s October again….

Chapter 72
“… they for nought would from their work refrain…” Book 4 Canto V, XXXVIII / 5, 38

Strike and Robin meet with Anna and Kim and the rest of Margot’s family. All their hard work was worth it.

Chapter 73
For natural affection soone doth cease,
And quenched is with Cupids greater flame:
But faithful friendship doth them both suppress,
And them with maystring discipline doth tame,
Through thoughts aspiring to eternal fame.
For as the soul doth rule the earthly masse,
And all the service of the bodie frame,
So love of soul doth love of bodie passe,
No less then perfect gold surmounts the meanest brasse.” Book 4 Canto IX, II / 9, 2

This (very romantic) epigraph is talking about Strike and Robin’s friendship deepening into something more and something meaningful. A love that goes beyond the physical, a love of the soul. Soulmates.