Faithful Place – Choosing a Protagonist


Tana French’s “faithful place”, published in 2010, is a great read, a mystery story that doubles as a well written novel about the residents of a squalid neighborhood in Dublin.  What makes it especially impressive to me is that it’s written in the first person, in the voice of someone who escaped from his unpromising background to become a respected undercover cop.

How do you choose the protagonist of a murder mystery or detective series?  When I faced that question, I decided to make the protagonist a man, mainly to avoid falling into the trap of writing about myself.  That’s because I find it jarring when the detective hero/heroine in a mystery I’m reading steps out of character and does or says things that seem more suited to the real-life author than to the fictional character.  I thought that if I had a male protagonist I would have to think more carefully about his thoughts and actions.  I wouldn’t be able to cut corners and have him do or say whatever I would probably do or say in a given situation.

A talented writer like Tana French doesn’t have that problem.  She writes confidently in the voice of a man with a volatile temper and the mentality of a policeman.



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