Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your protagonist

Colin Cotterill’s novel Thirty-Three Teeth gives its hero a deliciously unheroic entrance:

“On his way to the back, [Civilai] passed a small room where piles of clothes told him he was nearing a primitive life form. In the back yard, he discovered it. Dr. Siri Paiboun, reluctant national coroner, confused psychic, disheartened communist, swung gently on a hammock strung between two jackfruit saplings. A larger man would have brought them both down.”
That beautiful little piece of writing ought to make any reader smile. It’s also wonderfully efficient, telling us everything we need to know about Dr. Siri’s profession, his attitudes, his mental state, and even his size.

And now, readers, how about you? What are your favorite first glimpses of an important character in crime fiction? What does the author do in just a few words to make you feel you know well a character you may never have met before?

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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