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]
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. [3]
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. [4]
"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. [5]
Everyone knows what the Good Stuff is (as opposed·-to the Right Stuff). In PLAYBOY ISLAND, the good stuff is the sight of Our Heroes washed up on the beach together, as well as grappling on the clifftop till they tumble fifty feet to the foam-lashed sea below. In "Mojave Crossing" it's the pair of them waiting for help to arrive. Starsky blind and Hutch shot in the gut, and knowing that the end may be near, one gasps out to the other, "I love you." 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. [6]
... 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. [7]
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. [8]


  1. from S and H #33/34
  2. from S and H #33/34
  3. comment by Nancy's soul at Starsky & Hutch Archive, posted May 27, 2011, accessed March 24, 2012
  4. comment by dipslikeramon at Starsky & Hutch Archive, posted May 24, 2011, accessed March 24, 2012
  5. from S and H #33/34
  6. from "Smithereens," a regular column in The Who Do We Trust Times (issue #3) by Paula Smith
  7. from The Who Do We Trust Times #4
  8. a 2012 rec at Crack Van