I noticed that most of the characters chosen in the Favourite Fictional Characters thread were goodies. There were a few bad boys and girls, but many of the rest could be called role models. Today's Daily Telegraph has an article listing what they consider to be the 51 greatest villains in literature. The greatest villains in literature I scrolled through them, and the only two which struck fear into my heart were Mrs Coulter, from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and Bill Sykes, from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. When I consider terrifying antagonists in the novels I've read, I think of John Connolly's Charlie Parker stories, in which his private investigator is haunted by the evil of a depraved and demonic serial killer called The Collector. A very different style of crime novel comes from Florida author Carl Hiaasen. His stories contain a lot of humour, based on the absurdity of life in the Sunshine State, but he also creates some truly scary criminals. Chemo was disfigured in a freak electrolysis accident and killed the doctor at fault. He's horrific in appearance, resembling “breakfast cereal, like someone had glued Rice Krispies to every square centimeter of his face.” He's helped out by a plastic surgeon, in return for killing the state prosecutor. He bungles an attempt and in fleeing the scene by swimming, a barracuda bites off his hand. Rather than opting for a conventional prosthesis, Chemo fits a weed whacker to his forearm and continues his mayhem. What scares me about such characters, including Bill Sykes, is their unpredictability and capacity for immediately turning violent, without any thought of the consequences. In real life, I've known some aggressive criminals, including murderers and members of organised crime, and they rule by fear. They know where the bodies are buried, for they killed them! Of my own creations, the most intimidating baddy behaves in a calm, considered and logical way. 'The Watcher' appeared in my first Cornish Detective novel The Perfect Murderer, where he was selecting victims on the turn of a dice, as part of an online role play game. He fought as a boy soldier in the Bosnian War of Independence, so has been killing from the age of 10. It means nothing to him—people are targets to be eliminated—he's totally without empathy. Which of your own evil characters do you like? Simply being naughty and trouble-making will do. Who scares you in famous works of literature?