Wednesday, April 13, 2011


With a little help from their friends...

Sleuth and sidekicks. You'll find them in cosies and PI plottings, in police procedurals and some thrillers. The cop has his partner or more often, an entire squad that returns with every new book in the series. Much like Barbara Fradkin's Inspector Green relies on his key officers to track down the perps. Same thing happens for Const. Molly Smith in Vicki Delany's police series set in B.C.

And of course, what would Insp. Morse have been without his Sgt. Lewis, Dalziel without Pascoe, Lynley without Havers? It's an extensive list and the names are instantly recognizable to most mystery readers.

In the cosy world, I've heard that Camilla McPhee's assistant, Alvin, has his own fan club! I'm betting little did Mary Jane Maffini know when she created McPhee's exasperating but endearing sidekick that he, too would be a star!

Joan Boswell's amateur sleuth Hollis Grant ends up with an unofficial 'sidekick', police detective Rhona Simpson. At least, Rhona would never like this label.

In my series, coming April 2012, Lizzie Turner solves crime with the assistance of her book club -- that's six sidekicks. Have you ever tried to get seven people to agree on something?

Sidekicks provide the sleuth with a sounding board as well as someone who can give much-needed advice. They can add some comic relief when a scene becomes explosive. They are the shoulder to cry on. The supplier of necessary facts and details. A foil with which to highlight aspects of the sleuth's personality. And above all, a friend.

How about Poirot & Hastings; Batman & Robin; Frost & Toolan; Holmes & Watson; Barnaby & Jones?

There have been so many memorable sleuth/sidekick combinations in literature, and on television over the years. Right now, one of my favourites is DI Sandra Pullman and her team of three detectives brought out of retirement to deal with cold cases in New Tricks -- that's on TVO and/or PBS, in case you've never seen it. Unfortunately, as happens in the television season, it's off the air at the moment. But it will be back.

So, who are your favourite sleuth/sidekick combos?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
Mystery Book Club series coming
from Berkley Prime Crime, April, 2012


  1. Nice post, Linda! I think sidekicks are my favourite part of mysteries. Hard to pick the top ones - usually in whatever book I am reading. I'm about to start Death of a Lesser Man and report back.

  2. The Sundance Kid? It's fun to remember some of the classic ones.

  3. In the TV series (?) Sherlock - I love the new Holmes. I've seen three of the shows and they were awesome. Long live sidekicks who have been around since pen to paper.