Monday, May 6, 2019
Private Justice, by Steven Gore
Viewpoint is character. That seemed like such a logical statement that I just went looking for a source for it other than my overheated brain. I found one: a blogger named SensibleShoes who wrote in 2014: "Viewpoint is character. A character doesn’t just have a point of view (often called “POV” in writerspeak). A character is a point of view. Viewpoint can be presented without mentioning the character at all."
The nameless narrator of Gore's story is a retired Philadelphia Homicide cop, newly installed as chief of detectives in a small town. A retired professor has been stabbed to death in his office and it looks like a lot of people may be involved in a cover-up. As our hero investigates, he is constantly revealing his viewpoint which is all we known (or need to know) about his personality.
Throughout the story he sees what other people miss, not in the sense of smudged-footprint-in-the-flowerbed, but in the possible meaning of people's behavior. Why is one suspect involved in self-harm? Why is the university lawyer constantly smiling during a murder investigation?
Another aspect of viewpoint is that the cop is keenly aware that people in this small town are treated very differently than they would be back in the big city. Speaking of a plea deal for homicide: "Defendants in Philadelphia were getting more time for selling a couple of rocks of cocaine."
A nicely done story.