John Henry Rossett is the man I’m talking about. And when I say he lives with me, what I actually mean is he lives in my head, and on the pages of my two books: The Darkest Hour, and The British Lion.
The world Rossett inhabits is a dark one. It is 1946 and Great Britain has lost World War Two. Before the war Rossett was a copper, and a good one at that. During the war he was a soldier, a killer, the best of the best. Since the war he has changed sides and become a servant of Nazis, doing their dirty work, turning a blind eye and dipping his hands in the deepest barrel of blood mankind can conceive.
It is no wonder Rossett is a damaged man.
He is damaged by what he does for a living, and by the weight of his own guilt as he slams the doors on the lost souls trapped in the cattle trucks that take them to oblivion. Guilt sits heavy on his shoulders as he tries to stay alive. It isn’t just the guilt though, Rossett is also damaged by the war he fought in, the lives he took in it, and finally by the resistance bomb that snatched his family away in the ruins of a broken London.
Rossett is bad man in a bad place who decides one day that he’s going to try to be better.
He’s going to do some good in a world that is evil.
And that’s why I like him, and that’s why so many readers like him. He wants to be a better man. He wants to try to be good again. He wakes up and sees what he has become and he does something about it.
John Rossett’s road to redemption is a long one, and I’m certain he still has a way to go, but at least he’s now walking in the right direction.
I’m not sure I can forgive Rossett for what he has done, but I can love him for trying to make up for it.