Wicked Wednesday: Sidekicks

Holmes and Watson. Nick and Nora. Kenzie and Gennaro. Wexford and Burden. Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi. Even lone wolf sleuths need someone to chew the case over with. Sometimes it’s a sleuthing partner, or a lover, or an enforcer. Whoever it is, is part of the team.

Wickeds, does your sleuth have a sidekick? How did you decide who it would be and why is that person a great sidekick for your sleuth?

Liz: Stan has a few sidekicks that serve different purposes. Nikki, her longtime best friend, is an animal rescue professional who’s super passionate about what she does. Nikki is able to offer blunt, honest commentary on animal rescue issues about which I wouldn’t necessarily want Stan to be so outspoken. Her boyfriend Jake is a sounding board. But her most unlikely (and possibly most important) sidekick is Jake’s sister, Trooper Jessie Pasquale. Despite their rocky beginnings, Jessie and Stan have paired up now on a few occasions to solve murders, and it’s been working out better than either of them have expected. It’s a fun source of conflict – Jessie has a prickly cop personality and still grumbles about Stan’s involvement in these matters, but she can’t deny how much Stan has helped her.BertieshorseGrover

Edith: In the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, I realized midwife Rose Carroll needed a sidekick. Somehow Bertie Winslow, postmistress of Amesbury, popped into my head. She’s older than Rose, and petite to Rose’s tall. She rides a black horse astride rather than sidesaddle, and loves both fancy hats and fancy alcoholic drinks, in contrast to Quaker teetotaler Rose who practices plain dress, along with other Friends. Even though they are different, Rose and Bertie each value their friendship, and with every succeeding story and book I write, Bertie gets more and more involved in helping Rose solve crimes. Bertie (short for Roberta) even took over the voice in a recent short story!

In the Country Store Mysteries, Robbie Jordan’s no-nonsense but caring Aunt Adele is her sidekick, as well as her tall talented teenage kitchen assistant, Danna. And Cam Flaherty in the Local Foods Mysteries has her gang of regular locavores, especially Brazilian Lucinda, but Cam’s main sidekick is her police detective Greek boyfriend, Pete Pappas.

Barb: Julia Snowden of the Maine Clambake Mysteries has an overload of family, friends, and neighbors who serve many purposes in her life and in the narrative. I think the closest one to a sidekick is her sister Livvie. Livvie is the person in Julia’s life who’s not afraid to call her on her BS. She’s always on Julia’s side, (except when Julia tangles with Sonny, Livvie’s husband, and then all bets are off), but she’s not a cheerleader. She’s a truth-teller.

Jessie: My new series, The Change of Fortune mysteries, is told from two separate points of view. Clairauident medium Ruby Proulx tells about two thirds of the story and police detective Warren Yancey carries the final third. They each have characters that take on some of the responsibilities of sidekicks but I think they are actually great sidekicks for each other. They spur each other towards solving the main mystery of the story but, like any good pair, they also bring out some of the best in each other.

Sherry: Sarah Winston has two main sidekicks. She’s known Carol Carson, owner of Paint and Wine, for twenty years. Carol supports Sarah in a variety of situations and understands her in a different way than Sarah’s newer friends in Ellington. Her opera singing, karaoke loving, landlady, Stella Wild, is another sidekick. When the series opens, they’ve just met, and build a friendship as the books go on.

Julie: Ruth Clagan runs solo, but does have a few sidekicks. Caroline Adler is her step grandmother, and has her back. Moira Reed is her best friend, and fellow shop owner. Ben Clover is the handsome barber next door. She also talks to her cat Bezel a lot. I think about Holmes and Watson, or Poirot and Hastings, and how interesting it would be to use one duo as the narrative center.

Readers: Who are your favorite mystery sidekicks?


10 Thoughts

  1. I made a decision early on that there would be rotating sidekicks in all of my mysteries, not a dedicated one for each sleuth. That gives me so many more options as far as storylines and doesn’t pigeonhole reader’s expectations. Not that there’s anything wrong with a Holmes and Watson relationship, that’s just not what I want to write. I love bringing one special person forward in each story and exploring his or her relationship with my protagonist. I also try to tie the sidekick-du-jour in with the mystery itself or with the growth and development of the community.

    1. That’s so interesting, Susannah. I do see each book as an opportunity to get to know one or two characters better, but I didn’t conceive of them as “rotating sidekicks.”

  2. All time favorite pairing? DI Robbie Lewis and DS James Hathaway in “Lewis.” Doesn’t hurt that I think Hathaway is pretty easy on the eyes. =)

    My PA trooper has a few sidekicks – his love interest (almost a secondary protagonist as she gets her own POV chapters), a trooper for whom he was a training officer, and my favorite to write – the deputy coroner who gets to say all the things my protagonist wouldn’t.

  3. Sidekicks are so much fun and can really add to the flavor of a series. You all have wonderful sidekicks.

    My favorite sleuth/sidekick pairing is Odelia Grey and her husband Greg from Sue Ann Jaffarian’s series. They have a strong marriage and truly support each other, including in murder investigation. Greg is right there with Odelia, and I love seeing the two of them working to solve things. Plus, so few married couples are in the books I read that is a nice change of pace as well.

    1. As I discovered with my first mystery, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, writing a happily married couple is a challenge–it removes lots of plotlines and sources of tension. (Not that there aren’t tensions in a happy, forty-year marriage, eh, eh, eh–not that I would know anything about that!)

      However, when it’s done well, I love it. Reg Wexford and his wife Dora are my gold standards (though she isn’t a sleuthing partner).

  4. Does the sidekick have to be human? I really enjoy Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese sidekicks KoKo and YumYum from Lillian Jackson Braun. On the human side, Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James; Pam and Jerry North, from the Lockridges; and Poirot and Hastings from Agatha Christie.

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