James Patterson is one of the most popular authors on the planet, with a string of books that have sold millions.
From an article in the OC Register, here is that list of qualities that Patterson says can be found in the best fictional detectives:
1. They are not afraid to walk on the darker side. In fact, they relish the opportunity.
2. They are obsessive puzzle lovers who think creatively.
3. They are willing to put their lives on the line for justice – or at least to limit injustice.
4. They possess a sense of humor, preferably a very dark sense of humor.
5. They keep life in perspective – or way out of perspective.
6. He/she maintains a good life/work balance – or is a total wild child.
Patterson went on to list his favorite fictional detectives.
My series character, Zack Taylor, wasn't among them-- but if Patterson read my books, he'd like them, because Zack has all the qualities that Patterson finds important. In A Memory of Grief and A Fall From Grace, he'd find the following:
1. Zack most definitely walks on the dark side, and frequently unleashes his inner demons, to the detriment of the bad guys. Trouble is, the fallout affects good people as well, so we always have conflict.
2. Zack runs into tough puzzles and will use any creative way of solving them. He comes up with some dangerous and fun (for the readers) stuff in his attempts to get to the heart of a mystery.
3. Zack is reckless in hurling himself into danger to stop an injustice. His lady love is a nurse, and she deplores the fact that she sees him in the hospital on a professional basis too much of the time. In the first book, Zack takes on a crime syndicate. In the second, he takes on an entire town.
4. Zack is an unrepentant smartass, with a keen sense of humor. The books are chock-full of fun lines and banter.
5. Zack has turned to the martial arts as a way of keeping life in perspective. He sees a better way, and is constantly striving for it.
6. Despite knowing what is best, Zack is a loose cannon with a messy life. He can't control himself and it shows in having him plunge into a mystery with no regard for the consequences.