How (Not) to Write a Likeable Character – Further Thoughts

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Nicci French’s “Thursdays Child” is well written and has an interesting plot.  That’s the least I would expect from a successful writer in the fifth thriller in the Frieda Klein series.  Doctor Klein lives in London.  This book takes her back to her home town on the trail of a rapist and murderer and to visit her obnoxious dying mother.

Frieda Klein is a very strange lady.  She is a psychotherapist, and comes off as one who is good at what she does and cares about her patients.  So far, so good.  Although her appearance isn’t described in this book, she’s apparently an amazing beauty, because almost every male character either falls in love with her or lusts after her.  She even has a psychopathic killer in her thrall, who pops up to murder her enemies.  I assume that her beauty is nothing short of astounding, because she’s completely lacking in charm or humor.

I’m happy to read about beautiful protagonists.  Everyone knows that very attractive people are treated differently, so a beautiful hero/heroine adds plot possibilities and reading about extraordinary people is more fun for the reader than reading about the guy next door.  But you have to provide a basis for the way other characters react to your protagonist.  Even if Klein’s looks were described in detail in previous books, that’s no excuse for leaving readers who haven’t read those other books with no idea what makes her so special.

The overall problem is that Klein isn’t a believable character.  I’m left with the impression of a competent psychotherapist who’s basically a grumpy loner.  For unexplained reasons she’s irresistible to men, which provides her with the convenience of doing without a car, since she can call one or another of her admirers to drive for hours in the middle of the night to take her where she needs to go.

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