Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 325

George Stroud is the main character and editor of Crimeways magazine. His character is tough-talking, self-involved, and has no moral compass. He is married with one child and is trying for another with his wife. Stroud becomes involved with his boss's mistress, who is murdered after he drops her off...

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George Stroud is the main character and editor of Crimeways magazine. His character is tough-talking, self-involved, and has no moral compass. He is married with one child and is trying for another with his wife. Stroud becomes involved with his boss's mistress, who is murdered after he drops her off at her apartment. He becomes a key witness, much to the chagrin of Earl Janoth, who wishes to cover up his tracks. Stroud is placed in charge of the investigation that could implicate him in the murder of Janoth's mistress.

Earl Janoth is the boss of Crimeways magazine. He is a murderous business mogul with an inflated ego on a power trip. Janoth clubs his mistress to death after a heated argument that hinted at a possible homosexual relationship he had with his right hand man, Hagen. Janoth places Stroud in charge of the investigation in an attempt to stave suspicions off of him. He manipulates the evidence to suggest that Stroud is the murderer.

Steve Hagen is Janoth's faithful companion and business partner. He helps track down the only witness, Stroud, and helps to cover up the murder. He is described as being completely faithful to Janoth. Hagen is quick on his feet and thinks up an alibi for Janoth. He is able to piece together clues as to where Pauline had been earlier in the night.

Pauline Delos is the mistress of Earl Janoth. The novel surrounds the investigation of her death.

Georgette is the wife of George Stroud. She has a daughter, Georgia, with him and is trying for a second child. She knows of her husband's infidelities yet is centered on her children with him.

Louise Patterson is the artist whose work is admired by Stroud. On the night of Pauline's murder, Stroud had bought a piece of her artwork. As the investigation moves forward, she is called to identify the man who bought her artwork the night of Pauline's death.

The Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 489

The characters of Fearing’s novel range from fairly stock figures of hard-boiled fiction, such as Steve Hagen and Pauline Delos, to the unclassifiable raucous individuality of Louise Patterson, the artist. None of the characters seems to achieve any self-knowledge that ultimately matters. Although the characters philosophize to some extent, they are caught in webs of varying degrees of cynicism and self-delusion.

George Stroud, like many hard-boiled characters, is not particularly likable; however, the reader empathizes with the terrible irony of his position. Stroud’s cynicism and apparent dissatisfaction with modern life are evinced by his constant job changes and continual desire for more money. He assumes that he will move to a bigger house in a better neighborhood, and he spends his time figuring out how to ask for more money. He expresses no regret at the death of the woman with whom he has been sleeping; his only concern is for himself. His moral position is questionable on all counts, yet the reader sympathizes with his plight. If the reader does not cheer when George gets out of his predicament, it is only because he is, in truth, rather despicable. Although he did not commit murder, he seems capable of it, even if Janoth sees him as all intellect. His most interesting characteristic is his ability, although those around him are blind, to see into and through the painting of Louise Patterson to its truth.

Earl Janoth is a business mogul on a losing streak. He is competitive and manipulative. He overestimates himself and his powers, and he tends to underestimate others.

Steve Hagen is a stock character, the man who will do anything for his boss, the practical underling who will clean up whatever mess he is presented. His is a realistic use of power; he furthers himself by furthering Janoth.

Louise Patterson is a delight, a woman who cannot control her own reactions and blurts out whatever she feels. Untamed by society, she is ruled by raw emotion, has had four love children, and is not constrained in the least by the rules of the business world within which the others live. As a result of Janoth Enterprises publicity related to the painting bought by the missing witness, Patterson’s work skyrockets in value. Fearing thus implies that the media manipulates the public’s taste in art as well as everything else. Clearly, both Patterson and her art are beyond most people’s understanding.

Georgette Stroud is the long-suffering wife who cannot understand her husband. With her fairly nondescript voice, she is the foil against which George Stroud seems somehow too sharp.

Pauline Delos is hardly delineated except as the novel’s sexual interest. She is there to romance and to be romanced and, specifically, to lead Stroud astray. Fittingly, she is described in age-old siren fashion, as the blonde who will only bring trouble. Her murder sets the rest of the novel in motion.

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