I Fight Authority (And Authority Always Wins)
By Amy Lane
I am not sure when I stopped believing that the guy in the white hat was the good guy. It might have been when I saw Robocop and Ronnie Cox went from being the nice lieutenant in Beverly Hills Cop to the cold-blooded douchebag, but it might have been even before that.
Was it when a friend and I ran into a used car lot looking for a stray kitten at one in the morning and ended up being grilled for an hour by the local po-po about what we were doing there? Maybe it was when Mate got pulled over for a wonky (but not illegal) U-turn, and then made to take the drunk test when we’d been nowhere near alcohol. Or when I took a criminal justice class (for the same reason I read murder mysteries, mostly) in which the professor had a viewing of Cool Hand Luke and I realized I was the only person in the room who identified with Paul Newman.
Or maybe it goes back to my father, who had a twenty-year stretch of getting a traffic ticket a year, because those pesky signs on the side of the road are more of a guideline than a rule.
It doesn’t matter, really, where I got my distrust of whoever is supposed to be the Person In Charge of the hour—but I’ve never really trusted that guy.
It’s helpful now—I’ve gotten pretty good at standing back and saying, “Uh, let’s see who’s speaking and how much I respect them before I take a side,” whenever social media goes berserk; but there was a time when my friends and my solid, moral, ethical husband would look at me in exasperation and say, “Just because she’s the person in charge, that doesn’t make her a bitch!” (Or a bastard if it was a man. I was an equal opportunity authority hater in my time.) I mean, I’ve come to learn my friends and Mate were right a lot—but still. That anti-authority flavor lingers like old gum.
So, when I told my bestie that I was going to write a buddy-cop mystery, she pretty much laughed until she peed. “You, write a cop drama? You can’t write guys who follow the rules!”
“Oh. Oh yeah.”
For a moment I was disheartened, because I had this idea, and the guys were just so hot together, and they were topical and… “Well, it doesn’t have to be cops,” I said after a moment, visions of James Garner, Tom Selleck, Kinsey Milhone and the Hardy Boys drifting through my head. “It could be a PI!”
“Good… and who’s he working with?”
“A defense attorney,” I said promptly.
“Excellent!” she said—and thus, Fish Out of Water was born.
Now I admit it—I had a couple of friends read this in beta stage. One of them said, “Oh man, I hope you don’t get any speeding tickets after this comes out!” Another said, “Ooh, boy—I never knew you were that radical!”
“But there’s good cops in there!” I protested.
“Yeah, but only at the end!”
Well, okay. I’ll admit it—my good cops do come out at the end. But they do come out, because I have learned. Yes, being the rebel is all well and good, but there are times when we want our authority figures to be, well, worth the respect we give authority. For the record, there’s a good fireman and a prosecutor who’s not corrupt and some hospital workers who do my parents the retired nurses proud.
So, hopefully we’ll run into many more good cops in my fiction. Eventually.
In the meantime, did you all notice it? The most telling thing in the whole convo?
I mentioned a PI and a lawyer—a defense attorney.
I think I finally found an authority I can trust. Which makes sense since my nearest and dearest will tell you that I’m more likely to need the graces of a defense attorney as opposed to those of a prosecutor on any given day, I’m going to have to call this one.
A defense attorney and a PI—it’s as pro authority as I’m likely to get.
- * * *Fish Out of Water, out from DSP on July 29th.