Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Happens When Characters Die?

Death scenes are strange--in fiction I mean. We authors choreograph the steps of a fight, as if the characters are puppets compelled to their fatal dance by our tune. Or else we stand aside and watch, trying to make sense of what we see in our minds, drawing those steps so others might see them too. Or else we wait for the conclusion and weep. But characters die, and we who made them are compelled to see their demise. Like them or hate them, the characters we've made all belong to our minds, and we bear that strange responsibility for death or life.

I've seen a few strange characters lose their lives in books recently. So pull up a chair, pour some coffee, and see which books and deaths most appeal to you. Because, I guess, the reader who chooses to imbibe the book's strange brew must bear some responsibility too.

First in my list today is One False Move by David Callinan. Protagonist Delaney is a trained assassin who has made a vow to kill no more. Graphic well-staged violence ensues all the same, with threats against women and a wheelchair-bound friend. But there's enough depth of character and backstory to make things interesting. Enjoy the story for itself, with a short dark five-star coffee, or be tempted by these interesting characters to read more of the series.

A young woman is threatened in Kill Switch by Steve N Lee as well, though, as time tells, this threat is against many, not just one. Another young woman just might prove equal to neutralizing the threat, with equal and opposite violence of course. There are some surprising smiles among the investigative research and well-choreographed battles, but this is still a dark tale, dealing with serious terrors, and deserving a dark five-star coffee while you drink.

Murder At The Johnson House by S. M. Senden has another scarily skillful female protagonist among its large cast of characters. Slowly bringing her disparate group together at the Johnson House Hotel, the author leaves one to the die and the rest to be suspects in a well-plotted mystery. The story takes a long time to get going, but the characters are cool and dark, so brew up a nice big pot of five-star dark coffee while you read.

Initiated to Kill by Sharlene Almond takes a long time to reach its conclusion too. A complex tale, it involves the deaths of many women, in a puzzling trail from ancient worlds to modern, Whitechapel to Russia to Spain and beyond, with a wealth of characters in between. My favorite character speaks her part in first-person and listens to body-language as much as words, since she's hearing impaired. But darker characters lurk and kill and nobody's safe. This one's a seriously long slow read, needing lots of long dark five-star cups of coffee.

So now I'm wondering, why did all these books involving death also involve violence against women? There again, women are approximately 50% of society, and there's plenty of violence against male characters as well. So perhaps I'll quit my wondering and just continue to ponder why do we authors keep killing the people we've made.






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