Copkiller

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Zine
Title: Copkiller
Publisher:
Editor:
Author(s): Teri White
Cover Artist(s): Ruth Kurz
Illustrator(s): Ruth Kurz
Date(s): 1979
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: gen
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
Language: English
External Links: Copkiller
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cover of Copkiller

Copkiller is a gen Starsky and Hutch 168-page novel by Teri White. It is illustrated by Ruth Kurz.

Series

It is the first in a series of three novels:

The fic Vermont Avenue, Homecoming, written with permission by a different author, is a sequel to this series.

Summaries

An old friend of Hutch's from Minnesota comes to town, having escaped from a mental hospital, bent on killing Hutch for ending their friendship and leading on his sister. But his plan is complicated, as he wants to torment Hutch before he actually gets to kill him. After killing two police officers at random, he kidnaps Starsky and murders a look-a-like for him, putting the double in Starsky's clothes, smashing his face, and leaving him in the same manner as the others. But Hutch knows his partner too well, and the ruse only fools the blond for a few minutes. Meanwhile, the murderer is keeping Starsky chained and drugged in a shack at a deserted amusement park. He escapes once and manages to get a semi-coherent call through to Hutch with a cryptic message about a giant blue horse. Hutch, at first, thinks he's hallucinating, but finally discovers that it's the giant horse at the park's entrance. He manages to rescue Starsky and get him to safety, but then gets captured himself. With Hutch at the murderer's mercy, can a drugged Starsky find a way to get him out of the sure death that awaits? Or will Captain Dobey rescue them both in time? [1]
After getting shot during one arrest, and beaten by a perp in a second arrest, Starsky was in no shape to prevent being kidnapped by someone determined to keep him enprisoned and so drugged that he no longer even remembered what life was like before this all started. Could someone from Hutch's past showing up, wanting to make Hutch pay for a childhood transgression, Starsky's kidnapping and a serial killer shooting one unsuspecting cop after another all just be a bad set of coincidences -- or could they all tie together into a deadly, dangerous game? [2]
A man from Hutch's past comes back to town, but this is not going to be a happy reunion of old friends. The scenes switch between the impending doom and the casualness of everyday life, planning a vacation to Europe....Starsky's luck keeps going downhill, though. First he got shot, then he got a concussion, it might be better to lock him away somewhere so Hutch doesn't have to keep having heart attacks over his close calls. That goes double when someone starts executing cops. Victims start piling up and then Starsky goes missing. It's a tense situation as one partner searches for the other, hoping that Starsky doesn't become the next victim in the sick game. [3]

Sample Interior Art

Reactions and Reviews

One definition of a 'madman' is someone who, rather than having lost his reason, has lost everything but his reason. The villain of this excellent S&H novel fits this definition perfectly. As so often happened in the aired episodes, this person is an old friend who has turned up in Los Angeles to cause trouble. In this story he's a boyhood friend of Hutch named Louis who is bent on revenge. And who is quietly, chillingly crazy. His plan encompasses multiple murder, kidnapping -- of Starsky -- and psychological torture of Hutch. The basic plot of all this is not new but handled with great skill by the author. The violent scenes are enough to give the reader a jolt but not to sicken. And the friendship between the two main characters is heart-warming but not cloying. the many illos in the zine range from adequate to good, and the print is crisp and very easy to read. [4]
The Starsky and Hutch novel ‘Copkiller’ is Teri’s second production in this fandom. Her first, ‘Promises to Keep,’ was a melodramatic get’em that left a lot to be desired in matters of plot and medical accuracy. With exception of a few brilliant moments, like the opening hangover scene, or Starsky’s muddle single-mindedness when Dobey finally finds him, this first effort [‘Promises to Keep’] was more an exercise in reader aggravation than a story with something to say. I mention all this because the overall quality of ‘Promises’ turned some people off to Teri’s writing – and that’s a mistake. ‘Copkiller’ isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better than ‘Promises’ that it’s difficult to believe the two stories were written by the same person. This story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, as well as a villain whose criminal insanity is quite believable. Teri has written Louis in a way that lets the reader see and understand his problem without the character’s ever understanding it himself. He’s probably the best-drawn character in the novel, a pathetic menace like Commander Jim or Tom [from ‘Lady Blue’ and ‘Vendetta’]. The plot of ‘Copkiller’ is not extraordinary, but there are only five or six basic S&H plots. This one, ‘My Partner is Missing,’ seems to be the most popular. But the plot problem isn’t too important here; ‘Copkiller’ focuses more on the characters and the wear-and-tear of police work in general than on the whodunit aspect, and this is what makes the story work. These two people are not invulnerable. Starsky is grouch because an incompletely-healed injury still hurts, and Hutch’s guilt-gnawing puts him out-of-sorts – realistic, and in tune with the fourth-season disillusionment that led to their temporary resignation. This characters study is almost more interesting than the story in which it takes place. Teri has maintained a fairly adult level of emotion, with little of the ‘Oh, God, Starsky/Hutch!’ that cluttered ‘Promises,’ and the scene where Starsky plaintively wonders when they stopped being young is one of the best in the zine. The weariness and frustration were so believable, in fact, that I half-expected the story to end with them resigning for good. And it is near the end of that ‘Copkiller’ begins to fall short. The denouement is too long, too drawn-out. Starsky is a prisoner. Hutch gets caught. Hutch finds Starsky. S&H get loose. Hutch catches a woozy Starsky in a ferris wheel, of all places, for reasons obscure. Starsky gets caught. Hutch finds Starsky. S&H get loose. Hutch gets Louis. Louis gets loose. Hutch gets caught. ENOUGH!!!!! The entire ferris wheel incident could have been deleted, and the best few lines worked in elsewhere. There would have been more tension with less scurrying. The tag is also a little weak. I can see Hutch letting Starsky go through a drug withdrawal alone, no matter what the doctor had to say. Not after ‘The Fix,’ not the same Hutch that risked getting gunned down in ‘Shootout’ to go to his partner. That withdrawal could have been a scene to culminate and resolve the conflicts built up in the beginning of the story – police work, whether it was worth it – and after the painstakingly constructed problem, the omission was a bit of a disappointment. The art work in this zine was disappointing, too. I got the feeling that these drawings were done in a hurry for a deadline, and it shows. The difference between people-drawn-from-photos and people-drawn-from-freehand is painfully obvious, even within illustrations, and one illo – the picture Louis takes to send to Hutch – destroys the mood of the scene. It’s just about impossible to take Starsky seriously when he growls, ‘I ain’t sayin’ cheese!’ while wearing a mouse on his chest. Using fewer illos – or none, in this case – would have been preferable. But even with the flaws, ‘Copkiller’ is well worth reading. Teri appears to be one of those people who can learn from criticism, and if the improvement shown between ‘Promises’ and ‘Copkiller’ continues, her next project should really be something to look forward to. [5]
This novel reads very much the way a good aired episode. As with a televised script, there is little or no mystery; the identity and motivations of the antagonist are made clear from the beginning. At least, some of them are. Louis Mitchell is an escaped mental patient whose chance arrival in LA takes on the aura of a holy mission when he discovers that Hutch, who he blames for his sister's death following a back-alley abortion, is a local police officer. To avenge her 'murder,' he sets up a pattern of ritualistic executions, culminating in Starsky's kidnapping and apparent death. Hutch, though, is not deceived, and there follows a throughly satisfying reunion and double rescue, only slight marred by a ragged hole in the logic. In fact, this part of the story moves so rapidly and so well that you probably won't notice the flaw the first time through. I didn't, and even 20/20 hindsight shouldn't do much to lessen your appreciation of the novel. It is extremely well-made. Teri has gotten to know her characters a good deal better than she did in Promises to Keep: Hutch's tendency to assume responsibility -- even when it involves undeserved guilt -- Starsky's highly personal and selective morality, are quite skillfully handled. So, too, is Mitchell's psychology. What begins as revenge gradually becomes the working-out of a strange sort of love, a combination of envy, hero-worship, and barely repressed sexuality which transforms Hutch's intended death into an act of hatred [words not clear]. White has also learnt to keep herself mostly out of the narrative; lapses into authorial voice are infrequent and brief. And while the occasional shift to the viewpoint of a miscellaneous hautboy-tooter or torch-bearer may not be strictly necessary, it does serve to bring S&H's L.A. into sharper focus. On the whole, 'Copkiller' is a bravura piece, easily White's best work since 'Hour of Lead.' The art is best ignored. Highly recommended. [6]
It's a novel in which a psychopath tries to destroy Hutch in recompense for an imagined childhood grievance. Louis Mitchell abducts Starsky, knowing knowing that this will frighten Hutch more than any threats of personal danger. If this sounds familiar, it is, both from aired S&H and from stories in Zebra Three and Me and Thee. Teri's writing has improved considerably since Promises to Keep. This story will not present you with any obvious impossibilities, and in fact, maintains, a steady rising level of involvement from the reader. The characters of Starsky and Hutch are well delineated, and Louis is one of the more interesting lunatics we've met... Ruth Kurz' illustrations vary greatly in quality -- some are very good, others are very inept. She has much more difficulty drawing Hutch than she does Starsky. Whether by request or by choice, she has illustrated most of the high points and action scenes in the story, making the zine profusely illustrated by general fannish standards. Again, Teri White's zine is xeroxed rather than mimeo'ed or off-set. Again she has let lots of white space all over the place, and has charged excessively for the zine. If the zine were in the $3-4 range, our opinion would be an unqualified 'buy it if you're an S&H fan.' As it is, our opinion is to split the cost with a friend and then fight over who gets to keep it. [7]

References

  1. from a 1996 Black Bean Soup
  2. from Agent With Style
  3. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  4. from S and H #2
  5. from S and H #1
  6. by Jane Aumerle from an 1979 issue of S and H as well Star Canticle #2, also 1979
  7. from S and H #2