Thursday, 1 September 2011


Every detective needs a sidekick. Holmes and Watson; Morse and Lewis; Inspector Wexford and Burden. When I wrote THE EAST END MURDERS in the 1990s the hero, Patsy Kelly had a best friend called Billy. Billy was mechanical and organised; Patsy was emotional and headstrong. They complemented each other and their discussions and arguments informed the reader about the development of the plot.

My new series THE MURDER NOTEBOOKS also has a headstrong and temperamental hero, Rose. At the beginning of the first book she is due to meet up with the ‘stepbrother’ that she hasn’t seen for five years.

Together they are investigating the disappearance of their respective parents who went out for a meal one night and never returned.

Joshua is Rose’s sidekick. He is organised and determined. But because he is emotionally involved and because we live in a technologically sophisticated age he needs a sidekick of his own. Enter Skeggsie. Skeggsie is a computer whiz and after a bit of fiddling round on the laptop he can access CCTV photos, maps, information. He can break codes and find identities via Facial Recognition software. Skeggsie is a buttoned up character who doesn’t show his feelings. He’s happier at a screen than with people. He’s fiercely fond of Joshua and sees Rose as a bit of a nuisance. His skills allow the plot to develop.

Skeggsie is the sidekick’s sidekick. In a movie he would be played by a ‘character’ actor and not get top billing. But without Skeggsie Rose and Joshua would be stumbling along in the dark.

I sometimes wonder if he needs a sidekick of his own.

My favourite sidekick? Lewis. His forbearance and patience and common sense were completely necessary for Morse to work.


  1. I love Lewis, too. But I like HIS sidekick, James Hathaway, in the Lewis series even more....played by the not very handsome but somehow madly attractive Laurence Fox.

    My fave? Burden? Colonel Hastings? I guess if push came to shove I'd have to opt for Watson as a kind of trail blazer.

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