Cherokee Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1983 (English translation, 1987)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Detective and mystery

Time of work: The 1980’s

Locale: Paris and the French Alps

Characters DiscussedGeorge Chave

George CherokeeChave (shahv), the protagonist. A tall, thin man in his thirties, he is looking for work as a way to please his girlfriend, Veronique, but he soon shifts his devotion to Jenny Weltman. Hired as a detective, he arouses the envy of other employees by finding a lost wife and a lost parrot. As unexplainable events take place around him, he is pursued by the police, hidden by friends, kidnapped, taken by a cult, and finally united with Jenny.

Fred Shapiro

Fred Shapiro, a mysterious businessman. An expensively dressed man of thirty-eight, he is balding and has a hooked nose. A distant cousin and childhood playmate of George, he had long ago incurred George’s dislike when he did not return a rare, borrowed record of “Cherokee.” When George encounters him again, Fred is able to suggest a job opening. Later, Fred kills his uncle, Fernand; becomes the leader of the Rayonite cult; seizes George for use in their rituals; and kills a policeman who is storming their stronghold. At the end of the novel, Fred is driving the car containing George and Jenny.


Croconyan (kraw-KAHN-yehn), a thief. A large, short-haired man, he is strong and resourceful. After George aids him in a bar fight, he becomes a loyal friend, first hiding him in Paris and later joining him in the Alpine retreat.

Ferguson Gibbs

Ferguson Gibbs, a rich, red-haired Englishman involved in business with Fred Shapiro. He abducts George and later becomes a substitute priest of the Rayonites until they turn against him.

Jenny Weltman

Jenny Weltman, the woman for whom George searches throughout most of the novel. Young and pretty with blue-gray eyes and blond hair, she first meets George in the National Library. She acts as a priestess for the Rayonites but finally is reunited with George.


Fernand, a bookseller. A man of sixty-five, dressed in numerous layers of clothing, he mourns for the writers whom he knew in his youth. After George tries to sell books to him, he suggests that Fred might be able to help him find a job. Fred, his nephew, later kills him.

Christian Ripert

Christian Ripert (rih-PEHR), a detective. A tall, thin man, he is motivated by envy of George, who solves cases that he and his partner cannot. His pursuit of George does not bring him luck: First, Ripert is injured when George pushes him off of a balcony, then later he is shot and killed by Fred at the Rayonite headquarters.

Martial Bock

Martial Bock, another private detective and Ripert’s partner. A short, fat man, he dresses as gaudily as a pimp, like Ripert. After kidnapping Veronique from the mountain hideout, he and his partner end up joining the police in the siege of the Rayonite headquarters.


Veronique, George’s first girlfriend, an office worker. Although she leaves George for a photographer, she later joins both of them, along with Croconyan, at the photographer’s home in the Alps, where George tries to hide. It is Veronique who leads the detectives and the police to rescue George from the Rayonites.

BibliographyMcCarthy, Patrick. “Playing with the Parrot,” in The Times Literary Supplement. October 14, 1983, p. 1142.McGee, Celia. “Nice Guy, Private Eye,” in The New York Times Book Review. XCII (September 20, 1987), p. 31.Thiher, Allen. Review in World Literature Today. LVIII (Spring, 1984), p. 232.
Categories: Characters