The Marauders by Tom Cooper

maraudersThe Marauders is a sly send up of bad situations that have gone as far south as possible.   This debut novel weaves together several colliding stories into a funny and scary stew of ill fortune and trying times, mixed with pirate treasure and a legendary stand of marijuana.

It’s the aftermath of the BP oil spill in southeastern Louisiana, and life doesn’t look good. Things are worse if you’re a shrimper, and THE worst, if you cross the Toup brothers for any reason.

Reginald and Victor Toup are two kinds of trouble – think some hurting if you get on their wrong side, which means within a hundred feet of either.  They have their own interests on a specific island that Gus Lindquist, with his metal detector, encroaches on too closely.

Lindquist is missing an arm – no, really, a prosthetic arm, and a nice one.  He’s prone to lose the arm on occasion, but he suspects something worse the last time it goes missing.  Everyone else in the vicinity thinks he’s crazy, which doesn’t help.  The spectacle of a one-armed man treasure hunting through the tangled bayou islands is enough to make most snicker behind Lindquist’s back.  Add to that a separated wife and estranged daughter, and you wish for Lindquist to have some kind of luck or personal advocate.

Wes Trench and his dad run a shrimp boat.  They get by, despite personal tragedy, diminishing catches, and father/son animosities.  Wes is almost eighteen, that pivotal age in which other locales begin to look attractive, considering his probable back-breaking future and prematurely graying hair.  One argument too many with his old man, and Wes starts shrimping for Lindquist.

No nonsense Cosgrove is thick into a community service sentence repairing an old lady’s house in New Orleans with John Henry Hanson, a ne’er-do-well whose latest wild scheme sounds too good for even Cosgrove to pass up.  It concerns a specific island that belongs to the wrong kind of people.

Brady Grimes is in with the man – in this case, he works for the oil company, setting up “settlements” with the locals.  He gets this fun assignment by the luck of being a native, although he has strived to forget his past since leaving home.

This cast of characters all manage to interact with each other – unknowingly, at times – into this environmental disaster in which they make their respective livings, legal or not.  The book addresses the sadness and the fatalism of the characters as they trudge through their potential doom.  There’s also lots of laugh-out-loud places, too.  Carl Hiassen would probably approve.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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