What makes a compelling central character?
Mystery and suspense novels, by their very nature, demand complex and intriguing plots. But an ingenious plot is wasted if the protagonist and the antagonist have failed to hook the reader. If we’re not emotionally engaged with the hero, why should we care what happens to him or her? If the villain isn’t a worthy or credible adversary, then the tension and suspense is lost. Crime fiction is about the ‘battle’ of wits between two talented and fascinating people who, broadly speaking, represent the forces of good and evil. At the story’s climax, the protagonist and the antagonist will come together for the final confrontation Can the hero capture the mass murderer? Will the global catastrophe be averted? However, the story’s crescendo only matters if the reader cares about the hero. It is characters such as Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, Inspector Rebus, Dr Tony Hill, Precious Ramotswe and Hercule Poirot that stay with us long after we have finished the book. So contrary to popular myth, crime fiction is not all about plot. The art of creating compelling, emotionally engaging, well-rounded and credible characters is critical to the success of a crime fiction story, just as it is for other genres.