I don't think the word "hero" is very relevant to the lead characters in the average "literary" novel, if that's taken to mean the McEwan/Rushdie/Ishiguro axis - the wannabee Booker Prize winners. Heroes are more likely to be found in popular fiction, in thrillers and the like. I'm trying to avoid the snobbish term "genre" fiction, which I detest. The kind of book featuring mean streets down which a man must go who is not himself mean.
Before anyone gets too hoity-toity about that kind of fiction, let me tell you that one of my university lecturers in English Language in the 60s, Jimmy Thorne, later Forbes Professor of English Language at Edinburgh University and founder of the School of Epistemics (no, I don't know either) told us he always kept a Raymond Chandler story on his bedside table, and he used Chandler in his Stylistics lectures.
The kind of "hero" I'm thinking of has a very long pedigree in Western tradition. The little guy who doggedly pursues the trail wherever it leads, getting beaten up and bullied along the way, refusing to become corrupt and to compromise his principles, even though it would make life a lot easier if he did.
Of course, the classical heroes in the Achilles, Hector and Ajax mould are a different story altogether, and you probably couldn't build a credible story round somebody like that today. I suppose Achilles could be a sufferer from plantar fasciitis (I've been there - see a good podiatrist!) limping along gallantly on his sore foot.
I'm sure that in the days that Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) wrote, style counted for more than gruesome descriptions of crimes.
I note that Chandler was one of those Americans who came to Britain like T.S. Eliot and Henry James, but at an earlier age. So in a sense he was more "British" than the other two. And as he attended a London public school, he will have been taught in a rather formal manner (with Wodehouse, as the Wikipedia entry mentions) at such an institution. So despite his American background, he was really an upper middle-class Brit, to all intents and purposes. But then, after WWI, he curiously went back to the States. And for a while he was a top oil executive. So I don't feel he was as hard-baked as his characters might have been. But he deteriorated into alcoholism nonetheless.
The Wikipedia also mentions that Ian Fleming thought that Chandler wrote "some of the finest dialogue written in any prose today". And Waugh and Auden admired him.