Good friend and fellow author, Janet Greger, loves to create new ways for her readers to enjoy her mysteries. In her latest novel, Riddled With Clues, her tale is rife with riddles that challenge the reader and enhance the story. Join me in welcoming Janet to my blog as she explains her take on creating an interesting and dynamic protagonist.

In Search of a Protagonist

I can’t be the only reader tired of “dizzy” snoops who clumsily stumble into police investigations in cozy mysteries and of misunderstood police detectives with drinking problems in crime novels. I also don’t want to read about another neurotic genius, like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. Let’s face it – most problems are solved by normal people, albeit probably more observant than most.

What are the essential characteristics of a good protagonist for a mystery or a thriller (or more likely a series of books)? You might debate these points, but they should start you thinking.

  • The individual should be able to solve problems and be observant.
  • (S)he should have logical access to crime scenes, government secrets, or criminal information.
  • The individual should have at least one additional type of expertise (i.e. ability to induce others to talk too much, computer skills, martial arts prowess, etc.)
  • The character should have a quirk or two so as to be realistic.
  • (S)he will probably be gutsy at least occasionally.

Do you want to add other characteristics to the list?

51cGMjOuqrLSara Almquist, the lead character in Riddled with Clues, is an epidemiologist. She has creatively extracted information from large medical data sets to predict the incidence of diseases and the behavior of patients for years. With a few tweaks, she’s able to pry data on individuals from all sorts of datasets. In other word, she’s a professional busybody and a real asset during investigations.

She’s normal, but maybe a bit bossy and cranky. Doesn’t that sound like most middle-aged women? (Men, who are smart, won’t answer that question.) She’s dotty about her dog Bug, who is based closely on my real Japanese Chin. (Please note I use “who” not “which” when describing Bug.) Over the course, of several novels (I Saw You in Beirut, Malignancy, Coming Flu and Ignore the Pain), she has been a colleague of local police officers, FBI agents, and State Department officials. She’s found two of the men interesting in a romantic way. Both are characters in Riddled with Clues, and yes that does add a subplot to this thriller.2016a Bug

Now you can decide if you want to learn more about Sara’s in Riddled with Clues. Here’s the blurb:

A hospitalized friend gives a puzzling note to Sara Almquist. He received the note signed “Red from Udon Thani” while investigating the movement of drugs from Cuba into the U.S. However, he doesn’t know anyone called Red, and the last time he was in Udon Thani was during the Vietnam War. After Sara listens to his rambling tales of all the possibilities, both are attacked. He is left comatose. As she struggles to survive, she questions who to trust: the local cops, her absent best friend, the FBI, or a homeless veteran, who leaves puzzling riddles as clues.

I think you’ll find Sara is not the standard protagonist for a thriller, but she’s more than up to the task.

Riddled with Clues (both paperback and Kindle versions) is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1938436237

Bio: J. L. Greger likes to include “sound bites” on science and on exotic locations in her Science Traveler Thriller/Mystery series, which includes: Riddled with Clues, Murder…A Way to Lose Weight (winner of 2016 Public Safety Writers [PSWA] annual contest and finalist for New Mexico–Arizona book award), I Saw You in Beirut, and Malignancy (winner of 2015 PSWA annual contest). To learn more, visit her website: http://www.jlgreger.com or her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008IFZSC4.

Thanks, Janet, I read Riddled and thoroughly enjoyed the story. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sell a ton of copies!