Coign of Vantage

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Title: Coign of Vantage
Author(s): ultrapsychobrat
Date(s): 1982 (print), 2011 (online)
Length: 9739
Genre: slash
Fandom: Starsky & Hutch
External Links: online here

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Coign of Vantage is a gen Starsky and Hutch story by ultrapsychobrat. It was first published in the zine L.A. Vespers and won a Huggy Award.

art from original printing in zine, graphics by Dotty Barry

It is a story that illustrates a completely different perspective on the Eternal Partnership and how it comes with a huge price tag.

Reactions and Reviews


...'Coign of Vantage' is an interesting character study of Starsky and Hutch I do not like at all — personal taste only, as the story is well done. [1]
[An] unusual piece that observes Starsky and Hutch from without. The POV character is Richard Ashley, a young cop just assigned to Metro and suffering from a severe case of hero worship. He takes an immediate dislike to Starsky (with considerable help from DMS himself), tries to come between the partners...and learns a few things. Just as important, though, is the one thing he does not learn. Despite his own better judgment, despite the advice of his sympathetic and quietly sensible partner, Richard is inexorably by the mystique of danger that surrounds Starsky and Hutch. The characterization is closely observed, with an eye for nuance. It's a chilling story, and an uncomfortable one. Expect to have your preconceptions challenged. [2]
"Coign of Vantage" is a marvelous piece. [name redacted] has told it entirely from one point of view, that of a new man at Metro Homicide. We see S&H through his prior and much-mistaken conception and think we have no illusions of our own about the reality behind what he sees. But all the characters in this story, with the exception of the older cop who becomes the New Kid's partner, are fooling themselves and so are we. There is a brutal and potentially tragic truth behind the fondly-cherished illusion of "Me and Thee". This is the best piece in the zine, brilliant both in theme and execution. [3]


Everyone knows what the Good Stuff is (as opposed·-to the Right Stuff). [snipped] You know, The Good Stuff. Why we like the Good Stuff is a fairly unanswerable question; the point is that we do. As I mentioned last month, in order for a story to keep the reader captivated, it must pay off somehow, with a startling insight, a revelation, a thrill -- frisson. Otherwise, what's the use wasting time better spent raising kids or cleaning out the septic tank? There are stories, even trademarked Ghood Stories, that contain next to no Good Stuff: "Huggy Can't Go Home No More" Dotty Barry's "Coign of Vantage." Though these are eminently respectable pieces, fans don't generally select them from the tape or zine pile to look at again. Whereas the mere mention of the leathery hug in GILLIAN or the torture sequence in "Sins of the Father"-- admittedly lesser works -- is enough to send some folks racing for the shelves. These have a payoff, and as a matter of fact, an easily accessible payoff. You don't even have to read the whole story again for the payoff -- just flip to the section containing the Good Stuff. [4]
... I just want to say that when I dig into my zine collection, I pull out "Coign of Vantage" as often as I do one of the h/c stories we all know and love. The quick and easy payoff is all right sometimes, but there are other treasures to be found in digging a little deeper and taking the more difficult road. [5]


A flawed point of view can be a very effective storytelling device. Dotty B. used it to great effect in 'Coign of Vantage'. And it's a perfectly legitimate device - it doesn't constitute cheating or misleading. (Of course it can be done with that purpose, but then I'd say a whole other set of issues comes into it.) Just because some people like everything spelled out for them without any possible ambiguity doesn't mean that you *have* to write like that. I personally like stories which I can read several times, and where, on second reading, I can understand more of what's going on at the start than I did first time round. [6]


"Coign of Vantage" in LA VESPERS 2. Starsky's constant surliness, and Hutch's Jekyll-Hyde personna seemed OOC, but the OC through whose eyes the story is told is appealing, and the possible reason for S&H's behavior, thought-provoking. It's one of my (many) favorite S&H stories. [7]
I liked Coign of Vantage, too, and it's one I reread often in the days when I had time for such things. One of my favorite fanfic scenarios is seeing the guys' relationship through a third party. Most of the time, that person experiences the deep love and loyalty the partners have for one another. But the new man, Ashley (?), in CoV sees more of their fourth-season characteristics. The guys are a little rough around the edges, but I agree they're true to character. As we witness so many times throughout the series, even in the fourth season (Blindfold, The Game, SR), their partner's well-being is of utmost importance to them. I thought the premise was unique in that Ashley was seeing a true-to-life glimpse of the relationship, not a rose-colored impression during the best of times. [8]
I enjoy the opportunity to explore different aspects of the relationship from a new perspective. And if the picture is a little off (as I think it is in "Coign of Vantage," in LA VESPERS #2, an outsider's look at the S&H relationship which is one of my favorite stories), well, that's OK, too -- the author has taken a chance and written characters that I still recognize as Starsky and Hutch, from a totally different viewpoint, and that's exciting. [9]


Very enjoyable read! I love dark, different stories and this one fills the bill admirably. You teased out a lot of little hints given out over the length of the series (and not just in season three-going-into-four) about their relationship and its relationship to others on the force. "They" always say that the series had three stars. I'd say it had four. Starsky. Hutch. "That damn cah". And The Relationship. The relationship was a total character of its own which grew out beyond the boundaries of what was originally planned for the show, as happens every so often when creators and producers are lucky enough to catch lightning in a bottle between their leads. It's the one thing that can't be directed, or really even written into a script accurately. It does what it does whenever it feels like doing it, and I really enjoyed reading this outsider's POV of the darker bits of it that peek out more often than some of us might like to often admit. [10]
First off, our gen offering this evening is, for me, a special one. Many of you on the lists may have heard some of us talk about a story called "Coign of Vantage." The writer had published several zines and had a number of high quality stories in them. But to me, Coign of Vantage was one of those stories that you can never quite forget. Told from an outside person's point of view, it presents a viewpoint of Starsky and Hutch as working cops that's edgier and more adult than I often see. I love this story, and tried for years to find the author, only to have a fan I met at SHareCon locate her on line and send me the info. (Waves in gratitude.) The writer couldn't have been friendlier, and offered her backlog of older stories for the archive. I hope to be getting them all up there soon, but couldn't wait to scan and post Coign of Vantage. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. [11]


I loved this story! Loved that it was written in Richards point of view and how the relationship between SandH must have come off to those outside of their small circle. They were admired and worshiped and pitied at the same time. Well done. [12]
I read this classic S&H story for the first time very recently. To say that I was immediately taken with the premise and the skillful execution by this talented author would be an understatement. Here, a newly transferred officer observes the S&H guys, and we tag along, seeing events and perceptions from his point of view. What emerges is a powerful interpretation of the guys, what they stand for to one another, and how this special friendship/partnership looks from the outside. There is an edginess to the story - making it the kind of tale that lingers after you've relished the very last line. Please do yourself a favor - stop over and pick it up for your S&H summer reading. I am convinced you will find it quite remarkable, and very possibly, unforgettable. [13]


Have a question about a story I swore I read not so long ago, but damned if I can find the thing. I think the author's pen name might start with a "D", but unsure, and she writes very dark stories.

This one is about a new cop who sees Starsky and Hutch for the first time in the office and they're arguing. Starsky snarls him off, but Hutch greets him nicely, and he thinks "Well, the famous partnership looks like it's falling apart. I think I'll get in on the ground floor and maybe team up with Hutch!"

So he kind of tries to weasel his way into Hutch's good graces against the advice of his new partner to just leave that line of thought alone.

It's more gen than slash, and I love the story, and the author... [14]


  1. from S and H #33/34
  2. from S and H #33/34
  3. from S and H #33/34
  4. from "Smithereens," a regular column in The Who Do We Trust Times (issue #3) by Paula Smith
  5. from The Who Do We Trust Times #4
  6. from a comment at The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (January 17, 2000)
  7. from a comment at The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 6, 2004)
  8. from a comment at The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 6, 2004)
  9. from a comment at The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 7, 2004)
  10. comment by dipslikeramon at Starsky & Hutch Archive, posted May 24, 2011, accessed March 24, 2012
  11. Flamingo at The Pits (mailing list), quoted with permission (May 24, 2011)
  12. comment by Nancy's soul at Starsky & Hutch Archive, posted May 27, 2011, accessed March 24, 2012
  13. a 2012 rec at Crack Van
  14. comment by dipslikeramon at starsky-hutch.livejournal