Have you read any of Harlan Coben’s books? He’s sooo good. These mysteries have great depth of characterization as well as intricate plotting. I’m most interested in his series featuring Myron and Win. Myron is a sports agent who used to be an FBI agent and before that a promising pro basketball star until his knee blew out. In each of the three books I’ve read in this series, other characters describe Myron as the best man they know, as noble, good, and by the way very good looking. Oh, and he still lives with his parents even though he’s financially successful and well adjusted and does well with women. He just likes mom and dad’s company.
Myron’s best friend Win is, hmm. Many things. Filthy rich, enormously gifted physically and mentally. Perhaps, however, stunted emotionally. Hard to say. His own buddy Myron describes him as a sociopath, yetWin has a real affection for Myron, would protect him with his life, all that. Win also has a vicious streak and enjoys the violent encounters when he can decimate a bad guy, but they are always bad guys whom he decimates. And unlike Dexter, bless his heart, he doesn’t seem to go looking for the bad guys. He’s just ready and willing to erase them when he gets the chance.
One aspect that interests me about Win is this idea that he’s a sociopath. The profile of sociopaths/psychopaths indicates these people are so entirely self-centered, malignantly narcissistic, that loyalty and adherence to a code of ethics is not possible. But in many stories the authors present a complicated character like Win or Dexter Morgan. They are entirely believable killers with, somewhere in there, a sort of goodness.
Which leads to one of my life-long fascinations: how do people manage to split their lives, their psyches, so that you have, maybe, a Nazi prison camp guard who is brutal to the prisoners but goes home at night to a cozy family life? Or a Tony Soprano who ices his competitors but seems to love his wife and children? The text books I’ve read indicate the sunny, loving side of those personalities is a façade. That’s not what I see in Dexter or Win, however. And who could not believe Dexter Morgan’s angel side is real? And Win’s sense of justice and commitment to his friend? Ah, the mysteries of the human mind – and of great fictional characters.