"Plain Reckless," by Scott Mackay, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, December 2011.
To my mind one of the worst phrases used to advertise a crime story (next to "transcends the genre) is "This time it's personal!" As Jon L. Breen wrote "I think the necessity for the series detective to suffer enormous physical and/or emotional trauma in every book and to be personally involved in every case is one of the worst trends in contemporary crime fiction, but I’m not typical."
Maybe you aren't typical, Jon, but you are right, because you agree with me. In fact, in the same e-conversation I wrote "Those books are self-limiting in a way. How many times in a series can the detective be betrayed by his lover, best friend, etc., before the series begins to look a little silly? Only in TV do they get away with that sort of stuff."
But the self-limiting issue doesn't apply to a one-off novel or short story. Take this story of a cop named Michelle Evans investigating a murder. "With a twinge of anxiety, I realized I now had a personal connection to the case...It happened from time to time. And it always made me nervous when it did."
A woman is found shot to death in her house, but clearly she had been killed somewhere else. Her one year old child had been returned to the home. And she had volunteered at the church where Detective Evans' lover used to work...
I like the way Mackay uses the personal involvement in the story. A lot of cops say one of the hardest parts of the job is that they find themselves using their work skills on their friends and families and that is what happens here. When Evans talks to her sweetheart about the case "I detected regret... I observed guilt and evasion." How is she supposed to react? As cop, or as lover?