Synopses & Reviews
Every night when I go home after shift, I run my hands lightly over my body as I undress. The tips of my fingers catch the new scratches on my hands and arms, tiny red vines, an unreadable map. The burn from the teeth of the cuffs, I remember it catching my skin only now; the new welt on my side, unexplainable; the constant, steady bruise on the hip bone where my gun caresses the skin a deeper purple day after day. I unbraid my hair, shake it loose, stand under the shower. I place both hands on the wall and lean into the water, stretching out the muscles. Okay, I tell myself. Every night I tell myself, okay.
In this stunning debut collection, Laurie Lynn Drummond mines her eight years in law enforcement to tell the stories of five female police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In prose as unflinching and nuanced as the job itself, each woman's story -- like each call in a police officer's day -- varies in its singular drama, but all the tales illuminate the tenuous line between life and death, violence and control, despair and salvation.
These stories draw us into the insular world of cops -- how violence clings to a crime scene long after the crime has been committed, how officers determine when to engage in or defuse violence, why some cadets make it from the academy to the force and some don't -- and delve into the darkest chambers of police officers' hearts.
In "Absolutes," a stunned cop learns to live with the shimmering presence of the man she killed in self-defense, while her neighbor brings her casseroles because "it's the polite thing to do at wakes."
In "Something About a Scar," a rookie from Victims' Services tries to calm a woman with a nine-inch knife embedded in her sternum, while the crime scene officers snap photos and ask questions. At a vigil that seven policewomen hold for a brutally murdered victim in "Keeping the Dead Alive," the mourners get caught up in a vicious act of revenge that escalates out of control.
Fresh, unique, and uncensored, these stories are startlingly vivid and alive, revealing the humanity, compassion, humor, tragedy, and, ultimately, the redemption hidden behind the "blue wall." This collection signals the debut of an extraordinary new talent.
"Combin[es] Southern grace and urban brutality....Choosing original characters over cliches and gritty detail over simplification, Drummond continually surprises with her profiles in courage, which focus on a captivating minority on the force." Publishers Weekly
"[A] superb debut....With a marvelous command of fear and sensuous involvement, Drummond sucks us into ten stories about five policewomen in Baton Rouge....Prose that weighs like a gun in your palm." Kirkus Reviews
"The five tales in this debut collection [convey a sense of place, character identity, and plot] successfully....This is an exceptional body of writing; highly recommended." Library Journal
Women cops are the focus of this riveting debut collection of short fiction by a former policewoman.
About the Author
Laurie Lynn Drummond's fiction has appeared in such journals as Southern Review, Fiction, and Story, and she was a Tennessee Williams Scholar in fiction. Formerly a uniformed officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, she grew up in northern Virginia. She now lives in Austin, Texas, with her dog, Rumi, and cat, Smilla, and is an assistant professor at St. Edward's University.
Reading Group Guide
Anything You Say Can And Will Be Used Against You
is a no-holds-barred account of the lives of five female police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Each woman's story like each call in a police officer's day varies in its unique drama, but all the tales illuminate the tenuous line between life and death, violence and control, despair and salvation.
These stories reveal how officers are trained to deal with the smell of death, how violence clings to a crime scene long after the crime is committed, how the police determine when to engage in or diffuse violence, why some people make it from the academy to the force and some don't, and all the friendships, romances, and dramas that happen along the way. In an entirely fresh and unique voice, these stories reveal the humanity, compassion, humor, tragedy, and redemption hidden behind the "blue wall." This is fiction at its most true-to-life.
Topics for Discussion
1. If you made an emergency call, would you want a man or woman on the scene, or would it depend what was going on?
2. Police officers perform a vital service for all of us, every day. But in "Katherine's Elegy," Drummond hints at reasons other than altruism for becoming a police officer. Why do you think people become police officers?
3. From reading her stories, do you think Laurie Lynn Drummond thinks that women approach the job of being a police officer differently than men do?