By Sue Ann Jaffarian
Moral code? We don’t need no stinkin’ moral code!
Oh, wait. I think a couple of my leading ladies would disagree with that statement.
With three different series and three very different protagonists, I find myself living with three very separate takes on the world and how one should conduct themselves. All three – Odelia, Emma, and Madison – do believe that justice is the ultimate goal, but the roads they take to get there are as different as their hairstyles.
Odelia Grey of the Odelia Grey mysteries, has to be given an A for effort. Being raised by emotionally absent parents left her without a solid, ingrained moral compass, but basically she’s a normal person with the usual understanding of right and wrong. She really does try to be honest, but often finds herself lying and putting on a ruse to get to the bottom of what’s bugging her. The skulduggery does bother her, and even if it reaps results, it nags at her a bit. One of her friends is charismatic Willie Proctor, a white-collar felon on the run. She doesn’t agree with the crime Willie committed, especially since it hurt so many innocent people, but it’s not enough for her to end their friendship or for her not to use his resources in the crime world for her own sleuthing. For Willie, she’s willing to look the other way, but just so far. Recently, a reader questioned Odelia’s attachment to Willie and said she didn’t like it one bit. On the other hand, Willie is a fan favorite. You can’t deny that readers love their bad boys.
|The 2nd Madison Rose Vampire Mystery, |
out any day now
Emma Whitecastle of the Ghost of Granny Apples series is the straight arrow in the bunch. She won’t lie, cheat or steal to solve a crime. Even trespassing makes her break out in a sweat. As one of her friends noted in Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini: “Oh, please … you won’t even park illegally.” The rigid honesty of Emma could get annoying, but she’s so charming and likable it’s easy to forgive her for being a goody two-shoes. Her forthright style is also perfect for dealing with ghosts, who may be coy or confused when talking to the living but don’t lie. Still, Emma is not naïve. She understands fully that she’s often dealing with people who might not be as authentic as herself, but she gives folks a chance to walk the upright line.
Madison Rose is the wild card. After growing up in a series of awful foster homes since she was eight, the star of the Madison Rose vampire mysteries has developed her own moral code and sense of survival: Trust no one and do whatever it takes to save your skin and get the job done, as long as you don’t intentionally hurt people or get caught. She does her best to live as honestly as possible, but understands a little lock picking and subterfuge can harvest results faster than the direct approach. She’s the perfect companion to a bunch of vampires trying to live under the radar. They demand her complete loyalty and honesty and breaking that can mean death, but they also expect her to weave a web of lies to protect their clandestine way of life. If she has any second thoughts about her actions, they are quickly reasoned away and forgotten.
Everyone has a moral code, even inmates in prison, but what’s right and what’s wrong can have as many nuances as Baskin Robbins has flavors. One of my future projects features a protagonist who is willfully breaking the law every day, and I don’t mean by parking illegally. I think it will be interesting to see how readers react to her.