marauders book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

The Marauders is set in the sleepy, bayou town of Jeanette, Louisiana post BP oil spill. The shrimping community has been struck hard twice, first by Hurricane Katrina and then again by the disaster of an oil spill. Without the chance to fully recover from the first tragedy in the area, the people of Jeanette are broke, discouraged, torn apart and running out of options. These disasters have left the remaining townspeople with few options in general, namely leave or stay put, but ultimately the main goal remains simply being able to survive.

Author Tom Cooper constructs a colorful, interesting cast of characters and switches up the story though various viewpoints and observations. Chapters are presented through the eyes of a few central characters, but the story is mostly told from the perspective of (or focused on) Gus Lindquist, a treasure hunter with a pill problem, who is convinced that his recent string of bad luck can only be turned around by discovering pirate treasure somewhere in the swamp. Lindquist is funny, desperate and while downtrodden, easy to root for. He refuses to back down to society and even attempts to stand his ground against the creepy, shady and drug dealing Toup twins, who have a personal vendetta against him. He opens his shrimp boat and life to the discouraged, young Wes Trench and is still hopeful that a discovery of treasure can help restore his life and marriage.

Cooper also adds slimy BP executive Brady Grimes to the mix, who slinks around the bayou seeking signatures from the residents to essentially buy them out of potential lawsuits against BP while judging their lives through his eyes and expectations. The eccentric blend of characters, the personal tragedies and the sleepy yet tumultuous city of Jeanette, create a setting that is full of secrets and also hope for a better future, even while the residents are busy facing the ghosts of the past daily.

Cooper allows for the reader to peer into family lives that are rich in tradition, mystery and history, both good and bad. The heavy heat of the bayou will stick with the reader throughout the text and the adventure that Lindquist ultimately finds himself on is quite memorable. The book is dark, at times sinister, yet humorous and forgiving at the same time. Cooper is descriptive, conversational in his writing and he easily gets right to the heart of his characters, making them all jump off of the page or slink back into the recesses of the swamp with ease.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.