Saturday, January 16, 2016
The Marauders by Tom Cooper
By definition a marauder roams around looking for something to steal. In the Barataria of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, destroyed by a BP oil spill there are several marauders, some of whom are merely looking for a way to make a living now that the major industry of shrimping is all but ruined. They range in age from an eighteen year old, Wes, whose father is angry and guilt ridden after the death of his wife in Katrina. He demanded they stay and she perished. Needless to say the added worry of making ends meet when the shrimp hauls are so diminished doesn't make their relationship any better. Wes leaves his father's boat and links up with a pill popping one armed somewhat crazed dreamer who sees his escape in finding the buried treasure of Jean Lafitte out on the islets of the bayou. This shrimper, Gus ( though I cannot remember anyone calling him that anywhere in the book ) Lindquist is also a shrimper whose daughter only comes around for a handout and whose ex-wife, a teller at the local bank, has given up on him though he dreams of reuniting with her. Into this mix comes a couple of low lives who met up in prison after several petty crimes. They scrounge around the town of Jeanette looking for old widows to rob. The funniest moment in the book occurs when these two mismatched clowns decide to buy a boat and raid the isolated island plantation of pot grown by a couple of twisted sociopaths who also happen to be twins. Tweedledee and Tweedledum these two are not--though in some ways their relationship is a warped piece of humor as well. Lastly, there is the home-town boy who left and made good. He works for BP now and has been sent by the company to get releases from the locals so that BP for a small payout can avoid the suits these people might file for damage to their livelihoods, their property and their health. He's even going to get his mother to sign off on one of these waivers. As each of these characters seek to secure their futures and their dreams they become entangled with each other and many more of the area's residents. Their stories and how the future paths open before them is riveting. This is not the Louisiana of Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. This is the gritty, day to day existence of the swamp and its people and it is heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. I spend time in Louisiana every winter--traveling all over the State. It will never look the same to me after this book. It took awhile for me to get into it, being a lover of James Lee Burke. I found the writing too different and at first less satisfying. After about the first few chapters, each of which focuses on one of the main characters, I was hooked. I received a copy of the book from Blogging for Books to read and to write an unbiased review.