When I started writing my Mr Bob Murder Mystery books, my mum called them ‘my kids books’. Yesterday, over a year on during a phone conversation, she did the same to me again. I was telling her about the plot of book two and how excited I was.
‘Mum,’ I said, (cue withering stare and grating of teeth), ‘these are not kids’ books, they are adult cozy crime investigations.’
‘But, you have a guinea pig to help your main character investigate,’ she replied.
‘Yes, I do. That’s because I love guinea pigs and because they’re very intelligent, emotionally sensitive and have better hearing and smelling than humans.’
‘Is that right?’
‘Did you know…?’ I said, all puffed up with pride. ‘There are more bones in a guinea pig than a human body.’
‘What?’ she said. I’d got her attention now and I could feel her face melting at such a fact. ‘That can’t be true!’
‘It is’, I said, a smug sense of satisfaction glowing and growing all over me like fungi. ‘Humans have just 206 bones in their body, whereas guinea pigs have 258.’
‘Really, are you sure? Where do they have all those bones?’ she asked.
‘Well,’ I said, pausing and relishing my role as an expert. ‘They have 34 in the spinal cord, 43 in each front leg and 36 in each back leg. The rest of the bones are in the skull, ribs and breastbone.’
She went silent on the other end. ‘Well, that’s remarkable, I never knew that.’
‘There are a lot of things you don’t know about guinea pigs mum, and that’s why Mr Bob, who is a guinea pig, makes a perfect sidekick for investigating murders – he’s downright clever and perceptive.’
‘More bones in their body than me, I can’t get over that, they’re so tiny,’ she sighed.
I smiled and waited while she sucked in this new information, gleeful I’d impressed her with something she didn’t know (despite her being a piggie owner back in the day).
‘You know,’ she said, ‘come to think of it, I’m currently reading a book where the lady has a Chihuahua to help her solve the murders. They’re not that much bigger than guinea pigs are they?’
Size wasn’t really the point, but I took it as a small win: My mum’s started to accept that a guinea pig could be a useful – and welcome – sidekick.
Mr Bob is a cute, cuddly companion for Tarah and he’s certainly the cleverest of the duo. He may not have the Dr. Watson-esque stature of Sherlock Holmes’ legendary sidekick, but he does make Tarah a better amateur sleuth, and pushes her to interrogate things she wouldn’t ordinarily think of.
And that’s the thing about sidekicks. People often think of the sidekick as somehow inferior, but most of the time, it’s the dynamics between the duo which make the sidekick an integral part of the main character’s being – and hence the entire story. Where would the feckless Wallace be without his dependable Gromit to save the day? Where would Charlie Brown be without Snoopy? Pooh without Piglet?
A hero is nothing without their sidekick; they are the support to assist the main characters to do what they have to do.
And that’s why I love Mr Bob, he’s a guinea pig and so very, very clever!