New Orleans-based writer Tom Cooper’s The Marauders is a debut novel that does nothing in half measures. It isn’t afraid to take risks, dabble in darkness and skirt the edge of ruin, and this is what makes it such an exciting read.
Set in a bayou shrimping community still dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, The Marauders takes readers on a rollicking adventure deep into the heart of Louisiana’s marshes as well as some of the darkest corners of the human psyche. Featuring a colorful cast of characters—from identical twin marijuana moguls to a one-armed treasure hunter to a slick oil company rep trying to swindle his own mother—it tells the stories of folk on the fringes, many of whom can only find common ground in their shared desire to carve out a living (some noble, some less so) in their tiny corner of the world. Alas, as competing interests cause their lives to collide, only a few will succeed and not all will survive.
Brash and unapologetic, The Marauders is a thrill ride. The plot is brisk, the characters are captivating and the writing is lush and striking. Cooper’s writing is the kind a reader can happily get lost in, and his depictions of the Deep South are so evocative that if he ever gets tired of fiction, he might give travel writing a try. But The Marauders is such an impressive offering from an audacious new voice in fiction that one can only hope it is but the first of many. As far as bibliophilic treasure hunts go, this one is literary gold.