One of my current projects is a book entitled, The Troubleshooter. The story features a newly-trained Army OSS officer tasked with bringing Waffen-SS war criminals to justice. Fresh out of spy school, our hero quickly discovers that the world of clandestine combat conflicts in a big way with his Christian values.
The stark realities of capital punishment become all too vivid, and, in short, our would-be hero finds himself ensnared by a military justice system that he feels may destroy his soul. Upon reporting for duty in Holland, he finds himself the newest member of a squad of OSS operatives known only to themselves as, “The Troubleshooters.”
As a writer, I will be maneuvering under, over, around, and through the ethics of an honorable man. The story describes how the values of this man are stressed as he witnesses the residual fragments of humanity left in the wake of evil men committing heinous and barbarous acts. Our hero reassesses his moral paradigm and attempts to answer a question that haunts him: “What is justice?”
The literary process of altering a human value system is truly challenging. Equally demanding is satisfying readers that the main character is a hero, and is justified in exacting capital punishment without “due process.” World history helps me out a bit.
History has depicted members of the Nazi Waffen-SS as examples of the darkest form of evil. The war criminals being pursued by the Troubleshooters were barbaric and unfeeling as they used torture and agonizing death as tools of demonic acts of terror. It’s tough to tell the story in a manner wherein the reader approves of summary execution, notwithstanding the villainous nature of Waffen-SS soldiers. But the story reveals them as merciless (and even enthusiastic) executioners of helpless victims, including members of the French underground, and American and Allied prisoners of war.
So, there it is. Is the hero of the story a Bad Guy – or is he a Good Guy? Will he inherit eternal damnation for his sins or will he have earned a place in a glorified kingdom?
I suppose the readers of the story will sit in judgment.