It doesn't take more than a few minutes of reading Laurie Lynn Drummond's debut collection, Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You to realize that this nomadic ex-cop can flat-out write. With spartan prose exposing a visceral power, Drummond has crafted the fictionalized tales of five Baton Rouge policewomen, based on her experiences as a uniformed officer in that same city.

Bringing to life the mind-numbing boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror that categorize police work, Drummond's stories burrow into your guts and carve out a place for themselves. These women and their strengths, weaknesses and emotions come across as an amalgam of one cop, one woman. The same one who in "Absolutes" can shoot a man, then shove her hand into his chest to keep him alive, could also be the cop who viciously slaps her young daughter for chattering too much in "Cleaning Your Gun." With Joseph Wambaugh's ear for cop dialogue and a mystic earthiness all her own, Drummond makes her characters come to life, and at the end leaves us with an idea of what they're searching for: a glimmer of decency and a bit of hope at the end of the day.

Ian Schwartz writes from New York City.

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