From a former uniform with the Baton Rouge PD, a superb debut sheaf of procedurals about policewomen.
With a marvelous command of fear and sensuous involvement, Drummond sucks us into ten stories about five policewomen in Baton Rouge, stories that hint at only the faintest suggestion of fiction. In “Absolute,” Officer Katherine Joubert, then 22, tells about how, in the Garden District, she had to kill a very young robber, 22, who’d just held up an all-night restaurant. She chased him on foot into the dark until he came at her with a gun and knife. She shot him twice in the chest, then reached into his chest to massage his heart, but failed to bring him back to life. “I’ll be washing the dishes, look down, and my hands will have become his hands, even the cut between his knuckles on his right hand will be the same. The texture of the air shifts, and all the molecules in my body separate from skin, tendon, bone, fluid, and dance out into the room, rearrange themselves, weaving between then and now before they return, reshape into me as I stand here drying my hands.” In “Taste, Touch, Sight, Sound, Smell,” the same character describes the dozens of rotting bodies she’s investigated whose smell, invading her hair and uniform, won’t depart for days despite endless showers, shampoos, dousings with perfume, and double cleanings at the cleaners. “Katherine’s Elegy” is about the death of Johnny Cippoine, Katherine’s husband and a good cop, then about her own seven years on the force without him, including her young lovers from the police academy—until she, too, goes down, stabbed by a perp. The longest and best stories belong to Cathy (“Something About a Scar”—both visible and hidden—“buried deep beneath tissue and muscle and bone, in that ethereal place that makes us who we are”) and to Sarah (“Keeping the Dead Alive”).
Prose that weighs like a gun in your palm.