cover image The Marauders

The Marauders

Tom Cooper. Crown, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8041-4056-0

Cooper conjures all the complexities of post-Katrina, post–Deepwater Horizon bayou life in his first novel, a noirish crime story with a sense of humor set on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Each of the memorable main characters is introduced by a short chapter bearing his—or, in the case of the sinister marijuana-growing Toup Brothers, their—name. The shifting perspective keeps things moving along as we move deeper into the muck. Wes Trench ponders whether there’s a future in shrimping when the hauls are getting smaller and smaller, and Bayou men like his father are broken down by the time they reach 40. There’s Lindquist, a one-armed shrimper who’s searching for the fabled treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte in the bay with his metal detector, and whom nobody takes seriously. Then there’s Cosgrove and Hanson, a couple of small-time cons, and Grimes, a BP lawyer poking around the Barataria region, asking the old-timers to sign away their claims. Add in some alligators, body parts, and hidden treasure, and this mélange begins to thicken into a roiling gumbo. Cooper’s novel is a blast; descriptions of the natural beauty of the cypress swamps and waterways, along with the hardscrabble ways of its singular inhabitants, further elevate this story. (Feb.)