Bagging the Trophy by Vaughn C. Hardacker

by Barb Goffman

199/366 from the anthology Deadfall (Level Best Books, 2008)

A cop believes a suspect is guilty, but he has to set an elaborate trap to get the guy to confess.

I hate saying negative things about stories, but in this case, I feel compelled. The writing here was generally good, technically. It flowed smoothly and was clear, but parts of the story went on too long – it needed a good trimming. And the story was full of point-of-view problems. The cop knew way too many details about the suspect – things he just couldn’t know unless he was a close friend of the family. (What the suspect’s kids eat, what the suspect drives in the winter and the summer, etc.) I realize the author was probably just trying to flesh out the scene, but he completely forgot about point of view. Also, this cop somehow reported directly to an assistant district attorney, which seemed odd, and it wasn’t until the middle of the story that I even realized he was a cop – at first I thought he was an assistant assistant district attorney (I don’t think there’s any such thing), which would have made his reporting to the A.D.A. make sense, but did leave me questioning why he was so involved in the investigation. And if there were a cop assigned to the D.A.’s office, why would he report to a random A.D.A., not to the D.A. himself or the D.A. ‘s deputy? All of these issues pulled me out of the story over and over.