The Heart of the Matter


  • Major Henry Scobie – Longtime police deputy commissioner and protagonist of the novel.
  • Louise Scobie – Henry's devout Catholic wife.
  • Catherine Scobie – Deceased daughter of Henry and Louise.
  • Ali – Scobie's long-time African servant.
  • Edward Wilson – New inspector who secretly spies on the actions of Major Scobie, and is in love with Louise.
  • Harris – Housemate to Wilson
  • "Dicky" Pemberton – Inspector who commits suicide due to his large debt to Yusef.
  • Helen Rolt – Newly arriving widow who becomes Scobie's mistress.
  • Yusef – Syrian local black marketeer who blackmails Scobie after finding a letter in which he expresses his love for Helen.
  • Tallit – Catholic Syrian who is the main competitor to Yusef.
  • Father Rank – Local Catholic priest.
  • Father Clay – Catholic priest at Bamba who reads about saints.

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