Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Caz Frear to my blog to talk about secrets. I loved her book which will be reviewed on my blog on publication day – 29th June.
KEEPING SECRETS ON THE JOB – IS YOUR DETECTIVE TRULY ‘ROGUE’ OR JUST ‘CONFLICTED.’
When new commissioner, Sir Robert Mark, arrived at Scotland Yard in 1972, he proudly announced that it was his intention to “arrest more criminals than he employed.”
For your average Joe/Joanna, it’s fair to say that life is rarely black and white. Most of us live our messy lives floundering somewhere between what Dulux might call ‘soft grey’ and ‘pale charcoal’, and generally this means booing and hissing at the Bad Guys – those chumps who get off on doing bad things for bad reasons – yet feeling a stab of empathy for those who occasionally do bad things for good (or understandable) reasons. So essentially, to the majority of the population, the abiding message is this – if you’re somewhere on the off-white-dove-grey Dulux spectrum then you’re doing ok, mate. You’re one of the Good (ish) Guys. Chances are you’ve probably pushed the speed limit a couple of times, smoked a few funny fags. Maybe you’ve even thrown the odd punch in your time but it was almost certainly in defence (and the person probably deserved it) so no real harm done. Nothing to see here.
But not so if you’re a police officer. Not so if you have the power to raid someone’s house, take away their property, take away their liberty. Then it follows that you must be whiter than white. Ultra-white, to quote Dulux yet again.
And this all sounds perfectly reasonable, huh?
Of course it does.
Except that crime fiction has a whole history of police officers operating outside the law and boy, do we love them for it. From straight-laced Dick Tracy briefly succumbing to Breathless Mahoney, to Line of Duty’s DCI Roz Huntley killing a colleague and then framing her husband, we can’t seem to get enough of these conflicted detective. And I stress the word ‘conflicted’ over the usual term ‘rogue.’ Because ‘rogue’ implies a lack of of principle, usually a lack of remorse, and yet even devious DCI Huntley eventually coughed and repented, right? Even dastardly DI ‘Dot’ Cotton came good in the end with his dying declaration? AND he made a mean chilli…
So while we might be entertained by the true ‘rogue’ detective, we’re generally appalled by their actions. Rogue detectives strike at our deepest fears about law and order being usurped and the Bad Guys taking over. But a conflicted detective? One who keeps secrets, stretches boundaries, covers their arse – or even frames their husband – out of fear or love or loyalty, rather than pure greed or narcissism? Well, they’re a bit further down the wrong’un scale as far as most of us are concerned.
I mean, who’s perfect?
DC Cat Kinsella, in my mind, has always been a good egg at heart. Someone you want on your side. Definitely someone you want in the pub at the end of a hard day. And yet, by chapter 2 she’s already keeping secrets and making decidedly bad choices. By chapter 8, she’s in losing-her-job-and-possible-criminal-charges territory. Line of Duty’s AC12 would have wiped the floor with her!
So given that by the end of Sweet Little Lies, Cat has crossed a line, compromised her police oath, and told significant lies to just about everyone she claims to respect, does this make her a true wrong’un? And can you honestly say that you’d have acted differently? Would you have dropped your dad in the doo-doo, put your reputation through the shredder and given up the career that you absolutely whole-heartedly love if you could see another way out – not so much an ‘everyone wins’ scenario but at least an ‘everyone survives’ escape hatch?
In the words of a true wrong’un, I’m going to state, ‘No comment…..’