The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives come to realize that the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.
The Antagonist and the Protagonist
Human beings are not perfect. I think each of us can pick out qualities within us that we would rather do without. There are qualities in each of us that, well, we need to work on. There are faults. In fact, I’m willing to wager that for some of us, if not most of us, it is easier to identify our faults than it is for us to identify those qualities we are proud of.
The characters of any book have to be real to the reader. The protagonist as well as the antagonist should have both good and bad qualities. There should be both strengths and weaknesses. At times, the weaknesses in the protagonist that make him or her loveable and interesting. It is these qualities that push the reader into the pages as we follow along on the adventure just to make certain nothing extraordinarily bad or catastrophic happens to our heroes.
In Caught in a Web, one of my favorite characters, Brian, suffers. His mom and dad can’t recover from the loss of Brian’s twin brother. Brian is neglected, left out, and basically on his own. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but I’m willing to bet each of us did some stupid things along the way as we grew up. A counselor, Jeremy, guides him, works with him and provides him with the structure that is lacking in Brian’s own home. Brian has been friends with Jeremy’s adopted kids for several years and it dawns on Brian that he is more welcome in Jeremy’s home than in his own.
I think the reader identifies with Brian because, as I stated, we don’t like to see anyone suffer, especially kids. Deep down, we want kids to be happy and successful. This is certainly true of our own kids, isn’t it?
George, one of my readers’ favorite characters, is a fifteen-year-old Navajo Native American. He is displaced from all he knew and loved because his family had been murdered execution style in another book, Stolen Lives. He has been adopted into Jeremy’s family. Relatively speaking, he is happy. He is cared for. He is loved. As James Patterson does with his Alex Cross character, I move George and the other characters from my previous books into other stories and adventures. As George and the others move forward, there is baggage, some known, some unknown to the reader. This baggage, both good and loveable contrasts to those qualities that aren’t so loveable. Kids make mistakes. There are lapses in judgment. We’ve all had them as we grew up. Some of us still have these lapses in judgment, don’t we? As I said, characters in a book need to be real.
Now, enter the antagonist, or in the case of Caught in a Web, the antagonists. Yes, there are several bad guys as the reader finds out. One is more evil than the other. They have a purpose, and I purposely hide the purpose from the reader until close to the end of the book. In fact, the reader will find out who the antagonists are before the reader finds out why they are the way they are. That is done purposefully. In this story, the greater puzzle is the why, not the who, although I am rather proud of the climax.
The antagonist in any mystery is generally not liked by the reader. They cheat, they kill, they rob, and they create all sorts of mayhem. They are intentional in their infliction of harm on the protagonist. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages. They can be male or female.
It is this tension that sets up the plot of Caught in a Web. One of the antagonists, the truly evil antagonist without a conscience, will threaten members of Jeremy’s family. Again, no one likes to see kids struggle or come to harm. It is this edge, this tension, that the reader rides on until the end of the story.
Thank you, Joseph Lewis and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Joseph Lewis has written five books: Caught in a Web; Taking Lives; Stolen Lives; Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives. His sixth, Spiral into Darkness, debuts January 17, 2019 from Black Rose Writing. Lewis has been in education for 42 years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. He is currently a high school principal and resides in Virginia with his wife, Kim, along with his daughters, Hannah and Emily. His son, Wil, is deceased.
Lewis uses his psychology and counseling background to craft his characters which helps to bring them to life. His books are topical and fresh and appeal to anyone who enjoys crime thriller fiction with grit and realism and a touch of young adult thrown in.
Social Media Links
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author