Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames Character Profiles
Harry Hole is not your standard detective. The protagonist of nine novels by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, Hole is conflicted but driven, brilliant but reckless. This is one anti-hero who plays by his own rules, and we just can’t get enough.
When bestselling author Tess Gerritsen offered to share these profiles of her popular characters with us, we jumped at the chance to get inside the characters’ heads. And what better time than now, with season 2 of the hit TNT TV series Rizzoli & Isles in full swing?
After nine novels in the Maggie O’Dell series, author Alex Kava has gotten to know her protagonist well. She’s tough and fearless, stubborn and full of conviction. But more than anything, she’s human, and that’s what readers relate to most.
Dashiell Hammett’s best-known detective was his most appealing and enduring creation—even before Humphrey Bogart took him on. So what is it about Spade that keeps us coming back for more?
The average American hard-boiled detective is as well known for busting wise-guys as he is for muttering wise-cracks, but Europe’s most recent hard-boiled incarnations are not so full of bravado. Rather, they seem to echo the sense of overwhelming chaos that has come with the quickening modernization of our world. Kurt Wallander, Henning Mankell’s Swedish police commissioner from the small town of Ystad, is a perfect example.
In this excerpt from Robert Polito’s Edgar Award-winning book, Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson, Polito discusses the antihero of Thompson’s most famous book, The Killer Inside Me.
In 1955, when Patricia Highsmith introduced us to the character of Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley, the most well known series characters of the time were probably Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. Of course, there is much to like about Holmes. He’s intelligent, witty, resourceful, clever, and he would certainly be the type of guy with whom you’d want to have dinner. Miss Marple is equally as engaging a character as Holmes and a wide range of readers found her unobjectionable. Then Highsmith came along with Ripley who is the complete opposite of Holmes or Marple, or any series character before or since.
Dibdin’s famous Italian sleuth, Aurelio Zen, first appeared over a decade ago in the novel Ratking. Since then, the tough, philosophical, and world-weary Criminalpol officer has covered the peninsula, from his native Venice in Dead Lagoon to the Vatican in Rome in Cabal to Sicily in Blood Rain, uncovering the darkest mysteries, most criminal plots, and most gruesome murders. But according to Michael Dibdin, it was never meant to be that way.
John Bayley talks about the comforts and dangers of Marlowe in this excerpt from the Introduction to the Everyman’s Library edition of Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler.