Five rules for a sympathetic killer protagonist

These days many thrillers have protagonists who, if you stand back for a moment, are only marginally better than the people they are hunting down or trying to escape from. This is particularly the case when they are cold-blooded killers. Most of us as readers would never dream of killing anyone, and wouldn’t hang out with killers. As an example, if you were in a tight and dangerous spot, you’d be forgiven for wanting Jack Reacher on your side. But if things were going just fine, I’m not sure you’d want him to come babysit your kids every Thursday…

As a writer the trick is to make such characters ‘sympathetic’.…

Why I wrote 37 Hours

Why did I write 37 Hours? Well first, of course, it’s a sequel. At the end of 66 Metres Nadia has succeeded, but the Client is still out there. In fact the first scene in Chapter One of 37 Hours was originally the epilogue to 66 Metres, but the editor and I decided to leave Nadia languishing in prison.  And so the readers demanded a sequel… 

But there were five other reasons.

  • Jack Reacher
  •  Diving a nuclear sub
  • Shark-attacks
  •  Chernobyl
  •  London


Inside a killer’s head

When writing a thriller, there needs to be a sense of jeopardy for the protagonist. Perhaps a killer is after her, maybe more than one. The killer can be left vague, abstract, distant, and this allows the reader to imagine how terrifying they can be. [nice image by Jiceh, by the way]


The author can go inside the killer’s head, show the reader what is in there. This approach is less followed, for several reasons.

(1) The writer is not a killer (well, usually, one hopes), and writers should ‘write what they know’.…