CRIME WRITING: CREATING A CRIME SERIES 2 OF 3 POSTS
I said this post would be about sidekicks, so here goes. It’s also about this sidekick’s effect on my main character.
As I said in my last post, my main character, Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty, is an Irish Catholic, working-class man who comes from a large family. A family who are into buying bargains of dubious origin and other pursuits of questionable legality. And Rafferty’s ma, Kitty Rafferty, often leads the field in these pursuits. So, as a sidekick, I wanted someone who was Rafferty’s polar opposite. Opposites always provide conflict. A genuine conflict, stemming from character and upbringing.
So Dafyd Llewellyn was born. The intellectual, university-educated, only child of a welsh Methodist minister who thought the law should apply to everyone – even the mothers of detective inspectors!
Llewellyn is a sidekick preordained from birth to look with a jaundiced eye on Rafferty’s outlook on life, his theories and conduct of cases, and his less than law-abiding family. Thank god i spend all my time in Rafferty’s head!
Dafyd Llewellyn is an upright man, with morals as high as an elephant’s eye. Certainly he’s not the type to turn a blind eye to ma Rafferty’s love of illicit bargains should it ever come to light. Which gives Rafferty something else to worry about.
The words duty and responsibility feature strongly in Llewellyn’s life, though his character is leavened with a sense of humour so dry Rafferty isn’t sure it exists at all.
Unlike Rafferty, Llewellyn likes to examine the facts of a case immediately rather than going off on flights of fancy.
Llewellyn has a tendency to run a coach and horses through Rafferty’s favourite theories, which are often outlandish, outrageous and tend to indulge his various prejudices to the full. Rafferty, of course, thinks the more politically correct Llewellyn takes all the fun out of police work. What’s the point, he thinks, of having the usual working-class prejudices, if you don’t occasionally indulge them. Besides, it’s amusing to tease Llewellyn, who needs taking down a peg or two.
You could say the pairing epitomises the famous George Bernard Shaw saying, with which i shall take a bit of artistic licence. You know the one:
‘it is impossible for a Brit to open his mouth without making some other Brit despise him.’
Yet before the end of Dead Before Morning, the first book in my fifteen-strong mystery series, they have learned to more or less rub along together, helped by both Rafferty’s overactive Catholic conscience, and Llewellyn’s stern, Methodist moral code. As the series and the cases progress, so does their relationship.
Once i had the basics of Rafferty, his family and his sidekick sorted out, I had to place Rafferty in his environment. And after all I’ve said about his background, Ii felt there was only one place i could use as a setting for such a character.
But this, Location, is the subject for the third and last part of this three-parter.