Protagonist…Good or Bad?
My very first adult novel was CUJO by Stephen King (what were my parents thinking? LOL). Like I said, I’ve never been a horror fan, but King in a genius. That book scared the bejesus out of me, but it was an exceptional read and it brought me in touch with a side that thrilled me. Being scared or frightened is an emotion that appealed to my inner being and I craved more.
They don’t make good horror movies like they used to, but every now and then I like to watch a horror movie to connect with my youth. I know, weird, eh?
So my real question is: Do all protagonists have to be GOOD guys? We’ve all read books about zombies, ghosts, ghouls and brutal serial killers as antagonists, but what about protagonists? Is the term “bad protagonist” an oxymoron?
One of my favorite shows on TV is Dexter. What would you call him? Is rooting for a serial killer such a bad thing?
That’s what I had in mind when I first sat down to write my début novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND.
Dead Man’s Hands is a crime-thriller set in the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. It takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistic 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy. He's not a man to be taken lightly or a book for the faint of heart.
When thinking about creating the main character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate to. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who readers could make a real connection with.
Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas leg-breaker, I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make Watters appear scary (dreadlocks, patchy facial hair, body covered in tattoos), but also able to blend in with those of the social elite.
His every movement is done with precision and a slowness that dramatizes his actions. As he’s torturing his victims when collecting debts the atmosphere is built up by where the scene takes place. His “workshop” has been created to scare his prey. His methods are brutal, and he has a 100% rate of collection.
Do you think this is someone you could root for? You’ll have to read it to find out, but I would bet on it. Because my story takes place in Las Vegas, I wanted the book cover to have an element of gambling, but also show the callousness of the slayings.
The term DEAD MAN’S HAND originates from the Wild West. Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in a saloon while playing poker. The four cards he was holding at the time of his death were: 2 Aces and 2 Eights, and the fifth card was undetermined. Ever since that day, a card hand consisting of Aces and Eights has been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand” – aces and eights and poker chips laid out on a poker table, with a bloody knife—the weapon of choice for the psychotic killer in the story.
DEAD MAN'S HAND
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don't fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.
He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
Other posts by Lee Murphy on WWBB