The Sixth Commandment Characters
Sam is as hard-drinking and hardboiled as they come, even though he is not a traditional detective, but a grant application investigator. Todd's role places him midway between a private eye and an amateur sleuth, enabling him to slip easily from one level of society to another. He stumbles onto a web of murder and cover-up where he was searching only for professional or economic irresponsibility, but once on the trail he will stop at nothing to solve the case, despite its lack of relevance to his job description.
In addition to the main character, Sanders gives us Sam the custodian, who functions as informant, confidant, and occasional mentor to our hero. Like Jamie Olsen in Sanders' later McNally novels, he knows something about everyone and everything in town but is a wise and quiet man of few words.
Julie Thorndecker likewise presages the beautiful but treacherous and somewhat unstable women who appear in Sanders' later books. Like them, she is portrayed not so much as a villain as an unfortunate force of nature, and her motives are never quite clear. But her husband, her stepson, and the local constable are drawn to her like moths to a flame.