Saturday, 30 July 2016

My Favourite Literary Characters

My Favourite Literary Characters

Do you ever read a book and fall in love with the main character?  No?  Just me then?  Moving on...

I'm not a massive reader, although I am a prolific 'listener' of books as they help to ease me through my worst bouts of insomnia.


On the occasion I actually DO pick up a book, it's nearly always something crime related.   I'm a huge fan of books that feature the same characters in a series as I love to follow their personal stories as well as their professional ones.  

If you thought this list might be all Mr Darcy or Atticus Finch, then you've definitely come to the wrong place.  Also: you clearly haven't read my blog before.   

These are my favourite literary characters:

Lucas Davenport: John Sandford's 'Prey' series.
There are more than 20 books telling the story of Lucas Davenport, all based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota, USA.  

Lucas is a stereotypical tough guy cop, who doesn't always play by the rules.   However, as the series progresses, you see the sensitive side of Lucas and the battle with bouts of depression that impact on his life and work.

I already loved the character before his mental health issues but, suffering from depression myself, I can relate to the way that Det. Davenport deals with his condition.

The books are so well written with twists and turns at every page, and the depression is so well described that I have often nodded my head whilst reading passages that I can completely sympathise with.

The fact that this tough talking, street wise cop suffers from depressive episodes is what makes me love him, and root for him, even more.

Virgil Flowers - John Sandford:
Virgil is a handsome, flirty, cowboy type character, who works for the Minnesota Bureau Of Criminal Apprehension and just happens to be under the watchful gaze of Lucas Davenport.

Virgil is armed with a fabulous sense of humour, a wandering eye and several ex-wives.   He also loves fishing on his boat and his hobbies are often the source of some tension between him and his Boss.

Flowers features in quite a few books, with Davenport floating in and out of the stories at various junctures; generally when Flowers requires some advice.

Again, as the books are by Sandford, they're superbly written and filled with suspense.    I'm usually the first to complain when authors create new characters (I get quite attached to  he old ones), but John Sandford is a rare exception.   


My Favourite Literary Characters
Dark and spooky - just how I like it

Kay Scarpetta - Patricia Cornwell:
Way back in the olden days when I were a lass, I discovered the first Scapetta novels and absolutely devoured them.

I love crime books set in the US and I have a particular affection for the South, which is an area I've explored widely over the years.

In the first few books, Scarpetta is based in Richmond, Virginia, and is a fairly straight laced workaholic Chief Medical Examiner.  Her sidekick is the rather annoying Pete Marino, an overweight, hard drinking, chain smoking homicide cop with a dodgy marriage and very thoroughly reprehensible views on homosexuals. 

The first half dozen books are outstanding but, unfortunately, the story lines start to get a bit too far fetched in the more recent publications. I eventually couldn't take the disappointment and stopped reading them. 

Body of Evidence, one of the very first releases in the Scarpetta series, remains one of my favourite books of all time.   I doesn't matter how many times I read it, the twist at the end gets me every time.

Harry Bosch - Michael Connelly:
I've read every single Harry Bosch novel (to date) and have enjoyed moving through the stages of his life with him; from a single man with no kids to single man with a dead wife and one kid.     

Well, when I say 'enjoyed', you know what I mean.  No one likes reading about people losing their wives.   Unless their wife is really evil.   Anyway, Bosch isn't the happiest of characters, but I do love his moral code, even if I'm not the biggest fan of L.A as the setting for the novels.   That doesn't put me off too much, though.    

Connelly has been writing about Bosch since 1992 and the Police detective is still going strong today, after racking up 20 titles.   That gives some idea of the measure of Connelly's writing, as well as the depth of his leading man.

My Favourite Literary Characters

Agatha Christie - Miss Marple:
I'm unable to separate Joan Hicks' face from any vision I have of Miss Marple.   No matter which book I read, she's always the face I see.   She plays the character so brilliantly that I can't imagine anyone else doing it.

Anyway, no self respecting crime novel reader can really miss out the wonder that is Jane Marple.  From her unassuming air and her sharp mind, she has been the curse of many a sneaky murderer.   


Her attention to detail (which is obviously Christie's) and her gentle way make her a quite unexpected problem solver; the complete opposite from Poirot's arrogant and rather abrupt manner.   It's this frail, elderly lady appearance that lulls people into a false sense of security and gives MM her edge.


There's nothing I don't love about a Miss Marple book; not least the language and aristocratic settings.  I'm always amused by characters called Miss Venetia or Lady Trumpington-Smythe and it just reflects a time I've never known and a life I've never been part of.  


It's no surprise that Christie's books are outsold by only Shakespeare and The Bible.   There's not a single thing not to love about the twists and turns of the stories and seeing if you can't pick the most unsuspecting person in the book as the murderer as, nine times out of ten; it's them.


Who are your favourite literary characters?



Suz x

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