Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Detective Dan Atwater

One of the things that have always interested me in stories involving telepaths is the question of how they interact with other people. In some cases, like Sookie Stackhouse, the telepath effectively becomes a hermit (and the town crazy), while in cases like that proposed in the novel The Demolished Man, they become a terrifying police force.

Last week I read the book Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth, and the book deals with a very similar question. In the world of the novel, a small group of people (163 in the USA), are born with violet eyes and the ability to become possessed by the spirits of the dead. These peoples (called Violets) are used in solving murder investigations, communing with the spirits of the departed and even helping artistic geniuses continue their work from beyond the grave.

The main character of the novel, Detective Dan Atwater is a Los Angeles cop who has worked with Violets in the past but does not enjoy their company, the reason being that Violets commune with the dead by using touchstones, items which hold an intense emotional connection to the spirit, and as Dan was responsible for the accidental death of a man a few years ago, he doesn’t want to confront his victim again.

What I like about Dan is pretty simple, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even when that includes working very closely with a Violet who has issues of her own. Dan’s approach to his work is straight-forward and unending, he simply works the clues until something comes loose – not unlike Robert B. Parker’s Spenser.

I hadn’t actually heard of this series before last week, but after the great time I had with the first book, I will definitely be looking for the rest of the series.

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