One of the differences highlighted by my PR in Fiction and Scoop! Journalists in Fiction projects is that PRs are seldom at the heart of plot-driven novels. In a way, it is the difference between information and investigation; reporters provide a useful narrative focus because they dig for the hidden, and can be natural seekers of truth.
Mikael Blomqvist, one of the two central characters in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy, typifies this role. In his Observer review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, Nick Cohen writes:
"Blomkvist smiled. He had never met Svensson before, but he felt at once that he was the kind of journalist he liked, someone who got right to the heart of the story. For Blomkvist the golden rule in journalism was that there were always people who were responsible. The bad guys."
As a left-wing reporter who had investigated neo-Nazi gangs, and lived in fear of murderous reprisals, Larsson had learned to mistrust non-judgmental pieties about there being "good and bad in all of us". Hard-won experience taught him to avoid the shades of grey, which reduce so much contemporary fiction – and political thought – to a formless blur. Specifically, Larsson believed misogyny to be an unpardonable evil, and wove a feminist argument through the trilogy with enormous skill. All thriller plots are ludicrous when you to stop to think about them, but Larsson uses male hatred of women to make his uncomfortably plausible.
If you haven't read Larsson yet, a review of book three which contains plot references probably isn't the best starting point but, for me, Cohen nails his strengths and weaknesses. He is not good on sense of place, and some of the plotting is almost cartoonish in its need to up the tension, but the clarity and raw emotion that fuels the narrative is compelling.