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Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You: Stories    by Laurie Lynn Drummond order for
Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You
by Laurie Lynn Drummond
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Drummond, a former police officer, narrates short stories about five female Baton Rouge officers in this poignant debut collection. Scenes are set in existing Louisiana landmarks. Experiences in these crime cases, some vividly violent, are performed in the 'line of duty' (they made me think of my nephew, Sgt. Jeffery Peterson, who has himself achieved commendations in the line of duty). The title comes from the Miranda right, 'Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You', read to crime suspects.

Along with the stories, the author offers insights into police procedures, duties and way of life. 'My job is to enforce the law and protect citizens,' officer Katherine states after shooting a perpetrator. The media asks questions like: 'How did it feel to shoot someone?' but they 'Don't ask ... "How many police officers have been or almost killed".' Katherine's spouse, Johnny, died while on duty; in pursuit of his killer, she is forced to shoot in self defense. Katherine becomes a legend in the force and at the academy for her courageous actions. A framed photo of husband Johnny hangs on The Wall of Honor at Baton Rouge Police Headquarters.

Liz is eight months divorced before she joins the force. Now walking with a cane, she leaves the job with excuses of burnout - in reality, a woman driving a van plowed into Liz's patrol car, an accident from which the officer suffered major leg injuries. And Liz never could get a recent case out of her mind, in which a young man suffered severe head injuries. Liz contemplates making a move 'Someplace where the sky embraces you ... firewatchers ... who sit in these rickety little cabins all summer ... high above the trees, searching for signs of smoke. I like the idea of that!'

Mona is out on a 'shots-fired' call during which she experiences flashbacks in her mind's eye of her abusive dad. She arrives to find someone who shot his brother for constant abuse. Mona's father shows up as backup. He, too, is a long-time officer who later dies in the 'line of duty'. Now, Mona sits at the table drinking, cleaning her gun, contemplating suicide. She is on thirty day suspension, after roughing up a prisoner who struck his daughter. The night before, she struck her own daughter. Mona replays in her mind the man's words as he and his daughter fled: 'lousy mother ... lousy wife ... and lousy cop ... out of control.'

Cathy begins her law enforcement career with 'Victim Services' believing in a set of rules. Her first solo call is to a stabbing and sexual assault. In-charge plain clothes officer Ray Robileaux determines it to be a suicide attempt. Cathy graduates the academy, becomes an officer and marries Robileaux. Now six years later, with justifiable cause, the physically-scarred victim requests the assault case be reopened. Cathy has to determine whether the 'Cold Case' should be revisited. After speaking with the victim again, Cathy's thoughts are: 'about scars ... some are so visible ... some are hidden ... buried deep beneath tissue and muscle ... in that ethereal place that makes us who we are'. Cathy marks the case file 'REOPEN'.

Sarah is called to a case - a woman reporting something is not right at a neighbor's house. Investigating said house, Sarah finds the body of a woman who has been viciously tortured and killed. It seems that the victim was still alive during the heinous assault. Sarah's thoughts: 'It's one of the aspects I like best about my job. Wash away all the noise of motivations, clues that do or don't add up, guilt or innocence, and what you still have is fact: 'a crime'.' However, a few days later Sarah has a delayed reaction to finding that tortured body, and the repercussions are immense.

I find many threads connecting these fictional female officers to real life law enforcement - harassing, demeaning comments by some male peers and perps; courage and empathy for victims; common experiences affecting family life and personal relationships. And the myth that women are not able to perform as well as male counterparts still exists. But, for each unsympathetic family member, friend, or peer, there are dozens of supportive men and women ... You Go Girl!

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