I'm watching that new Sherlock Holmes fanfic show-- I mean, Sherlock in modern times. I spent way too long wondering why they chose a Sherlock who looked like a young Mick Jagger.
Anyway, Sherlock solves the mystery, of course, and then he's alone with the murderer who is dying of a gunshot wound (Sherlock didn't shoot him). As the man is dying, Sherlock demands the name of someone (the person who told the murderer about him?). The man refuses to talk. Sherlock then grinds out something like, "You may be dying, but you can still feel pain!" And then he steps on the man's wounded shoulder, and grinds his boot in. The man screams and tells him the name.
Now really. I know that torture has become not just allowable but cool, and that it's been used for years in 24 as a plotting short cut to get Jack Bauer whatever information he's too lazy to get any other way. Heck, Jack's a thug, really, and it's not actually out of character for him to resort to torture. In fact, he's just a big torture machine.
But Sherlock Holmes? Huh? The most brilliant detective in (fictional) history? What? The great detective who can look at another man and immediately deduce that he's recently returned from Afghanistan, that his limp is psychosomatic, and that his recently divorced brother is a closet alcoholic? He can't detect the name? He can't talk the guy about to die around to a deathbed confession?
No, it's easier just to resort to torture, because, you know, gosh, everyone's doing it.
"Everyone's doing it," however, should be a great big STOP sign for a writer. If everyone's doing it, it's not what your unique, individual, intriguing character should be doing. If you've created a hyper-rational, highly intellectualized detective, well, your readers want to see how THAT type of detective works out a problem. Anyone can resort to torture. Too easy, and whenever something's easy-- well, that's another signal that it's the wrong event for your story.
Think how much more interesting it will be to plot out an action that comes out of this character's unique set of skills and values, an action that reveals something about him as he acts in that way.
And torture-- well, really, would you want the torturer to come home and move in next to you and start dating your daughter?
Torture harms the torturer as well as the victim. But the easy resort to torture writers? They probably have no interest in exploring the consequences of such an act on the character.
Lazy plotting makes for inadequate writing.