Tom Burke plays private detective Cormoran Strike who has come up against a fiendishly complex case with a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted.
Tom breaks down his character and outlines the thrilling storyline.
Where do we find Strike at the start of this series?
The series starts in Cornwall and there’s a family situation going on. His Aunt Joan has cancer so he’s dealing with that and it’s there that he meets Anna Phipps who brings a cold case to him, her mother disappeared when she was a baby and was never found. He’s immediately quite cynical about being able to solve it given the amount of time that has passed.
What do you think the introduction of Cormoran’s family life in Cornwall tells us about him?
At first glance, the family life that you see in Cornwall looks rather idyllic but we know enough about what happened with his mother and his absent father to think ‘thank God he had these two’.
However, we soon realise it was quite a complicated situation for him to be in because of the divided loyalty. It was a gradual journey and it would have been incredibly confusing for a child to immediately slot him into this new family set up.
How much do you think Strike’s time in Cornwall informs his character now?
I wouldn’t be able to pin it down exactly how it affects him but I think there is a different sense of periphery when you spend your life in a city to when you spend your life in open places. There is something about his physicality, you feel like he’s spent a lot of time strolling along the beach or over some cliffs. There’s just something about his line of sight and the way he takes in a room.
I feel he’s been shaped by so many things, growing up in squats, living in London, the whole Cornwall side and then there’s his university life which helped shape his intellect. I feel like it all fits together.
Can you tell us about how Robin and Strike’s relationship has evolved in Troubled Blood?
There is something very strong between them but he’s also processing a lot about his Aunt and Uncle in this series. He allows himself to be a bit more vulnerable around her and he’s a little freer with how he feels about her too, partly because he’s been encouraged to by his family. It’s a weird mixture of feelings, he thinks it is incredibly dangerous for him and he is trying not to feel those things.
There is a tense moment in this series when Strike meets convicted serial killer Dennis Creed. What does this scene say about his ability as a detective?
One of the things about Strike I particularly find endearing is his humanity and even when confronting killers he takes a big brother approach and he’s always shocked when they spin around and lash out at him.
In that scene I was thinking about what expectations he would have of Creed but inevitably when somebody is a certified serial killer you would be on your guard. He was very aware of Creed’s vanity and his ego before they met so I was mindful of the flow of communication between the two characters. There’s the cadence and rhythm in reflecting the person and it’s also about knowing when to confront them as well.
This series gives us a great insight into Robin’s strengths. What qualities do you think Strike recognises in her now?
I think he’s often floored by her empathy and the way she gets so caught up in a case. He’s very humbled by her capacity for that.
I think there’s also moments where she’s very instinctive and intuitive and able to think about things with a kind of fuzzy logic. She’s not afraid to challenge Strike if she thinks there’s something they’re missing.