Imagine a small fishing community in Louisiana, if you will, recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Now, throw in the BP oil spill and you have a recipe that spells disaster for those that rely on the Gulf and her tributaries to provide food and an income. While the story is a fictional account, the Gulf disasters are very real, and Cooper's debut novel is easily imagined. As a native of Louisiana, I love reading books about my beloved south, books that cover topics from traditional festivities to good ole Cajun folk. Who doesn't like to read a book where the setting is a familiar one? Although Tom Cooper was not born in Cajun country (he now resides in New Orleans), he does an excellent job with vivid descriptions and the people and places described feel authentic. I was pleasantly surprised and I don't think I've ever read a book quite like The Marauders. It's different...and I mean that in the highest form of flattery. Where else can one find a one-armed, pill-popping, metal detector-toting shrimper, who's obsessed with the pirate booty of Jean Lafitte? Then, there's the intimidating Toup brothers, always up to no good, especially when it comes to guarding their small, swamp island of marijuana in the Barataria Bay. Add Cosgrove and Hanson, a couple of small time crooks that get themselves into a "pot" of trouble on the Toup brother's island, and you've got one heck of a story! The Marauders is like a pot of gumbo, lots of good things stirring in this one, and like a bowl of gumbo, each chapter is better than the last.
*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a review.
Tom Cooper has been published in dozens of literary magazines and his stories have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.