The Talent Array of a Novel’s “Good Guys”
Television dramas like NCIS often feature ensemble casts. That is, a half dozen or so
individuals “star” in the series, rather than just one or two. This enables the writers to
tap an array of skills from the various major characters: one may specialize in computer
analysis, another in networking with other agencies, another in hand-to-hand fighting.
My Rebecca novels are like that. They feature a group of protagonists – Rebecca, her
family, several close colleagues – whose array of talents provides a deep reservoir from
which she is able to draw as the story develops. First, she and they must identify the
evil that they face; second, they must make decisions about what actions to take; third,
they must actually engage their adversaries in what are often highly dangerous and
highly physical confrontations.
It is no accident that nearly every person who makes up the “good guys” in my novels
carries with him or her evidence of prior wounds received in these confrontations.
Rebecca herself, from mid-second novel on, carries a dramatic V-shaped scar along the
right side of her face, running from the corner of her mouth all the way to her right ear.
In the latest novel in the Rebecca Series, A Fearful Thing, Rebecca, we find, has been
“weaponized” since the previous novel, having been taught by her brother, Luke, to use
12-inch competition throwing knives. At one point in the novel, Rebecca uses her knife-
throwing skill against an enemy who is threatening to execute two of Rebecca’s
colleagues. This is the first time she has used her knives against a person, rather than
just paper targets.
Luke, as a former Royal Navy boarding-party officer, has many combat-relevant skills
other than the knife-throwing skill that he teaches his sister. He uses his enormous
strength and experience with non-lethal weapons to deal with adversaries efficiently,
always without firearms.
Luke’s wife, Kory, a former Royal Navy research and data analyst, has remarkable
technological skills. For example, in my second young adult novel, Visioners 2, Kory is
able to open remotely an electronically locked door on a corporate aircraft via satellite
link, England to New York.
Detective Sid Belton, though physically impaired from his years in the military and in the
New York Police Department, brings to Rebecca’s group his worldwide network of
connections to law enforcement, to intelligence agencies, and to military
establishments. In A Fearful Thing, Belton fills the critical role of organizing law officers
from a variety of jurisdictions to confront threats made by the Soviet Union. (This story is
set in 1985, the height of the Cold War.)
Detective Jaakov Adelman, a former agent with Mossad, Israel’s formidable intelligence
agency, is Belton’s partner in their New York City detective agency. Adelman has his
own set of worldwide connections, especially in the intelligence field. He is also nearly
as conversant with technological advances as is Rebecca’s sister-in-law, Kory.
Having this kind of talent available at my fingertips is essential in the kind of stories I
write. Whatever skills and understandings may be needed at any point, I can draw on at
least one of the protagonists to step into the problem – often a national or worldwide
crisis – and help the others work toward the solution.
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