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Robbers Hardcover – November, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (November 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786707763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786707768
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,345,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Start with a cliché: Texas is big. Big enough for someone to start running and keep running, big enough to harbor dreams, big enough to crush them. Then transmute the cliché into narrative gold, spun from violence, bittersweet humor, beauty, and terror. The alchemist is Christopher Cook, whose first novel is a noir powerhouse: uncompromising and authentic, with darkly funny characters and prose that veers magically between grandeur and grit. Think James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard, but think William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy too.

The bleak joyride of Robbers follows Eddie and Ray Bob, drifters bound together against a common enemy they're powerless to define (boredom, conventionality, poverty?), on a killing spree across the Lone Star state. A chance shooting in a convenience store sets the two runnin' buddies on a road noteworthy for its anonymity as well as its violence:

The twin tunnels of light the Caddy bored forward into darkness never faltered but seemed to gain no ground different from any other. The FM still didn't work, and they changed from one AM station to another as they ran out from beneath the reach of each into broken waves of static. That's how they knew they were moving. Otherwise they might not have known in that broad charcoal sweep beneath wheeling constellations.
One shooting leads inexorably to another, and another... though nothing else is sure in this breathtaking novel, which counters anticipation with surprise at every turn. The novel's brutality is matter-of-fact, but never casual. When Della, a single mother with an unusually pressing problem, joins Eddie and Ray Bob on the run, the picture gets complicated for all concerned. And the drift becomes a pursuit rich with near-mythic overtones, as Texas Ranger Rule Hooks tracks the trio from the Gulf Coast to the pine forests of East Texas. Hooks is a pragmatic loner with an uncanny ability to sense the movements of his prey: "He stood still. He was having a feeling. He had them now and then and sometimes he listened and sometimes he didn't. It all depended. Just now he didn't know. Wasn't sure."

It may be bad luck to speak of the expectations for Cook's next novel, but when one's debut is as astonishing as this, high expectations are inevitable, as is the impatience with which readers, bowled over by Robbers' speed and skill, will await the next serendipitous event. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

The harsh, foreboding essence of rural Texas dominates Cook's bloody, bittersweet debut novel, charting the adventures of two criminal drifters and their pursuer. From the disturbing opening scene in which Eddie and Ray Bob kill a convenience store clerk, the "running buddies" lash their way across Texas, shooting gas station attendants and shopkeepers and stealing small amounts of money and food. Young and broke, Eddie is an aspiring blues guitarist, baffled by the violence of Ray Bob, a natural predator for whom killing is not just a thrill but a calling. The boys' aimless adventure eventually includes Della, a woman who patterns her life on women's magazines and desperately aspires to middle-class respectability. While hiding out in a rundown beach house near Galveston, Della and Eddie fall for each other, much to the disgust of Ray Bob. Eddie and Ray Bob split upDEddie to pursue his romance and career and Ray Bob to continue his plunderDjust as a crafty Texas Ranger, Rule Hooks, picks up their scent. Hooks, a tracker by training and instinct, relies on modern police methods as well as his gut instincts to sniff out his prey. Cook's plot tumbles from scene to scene with jarring brilliance, the pathos of his characters lending his otherwise brutal world a certain beauty. His imagery is striking, almost lyrical: on a warm day, the sun floats in the sky like "a warm dab of butter." This gritty crime drama is not for the faint of heart, but Cook's prose sets it a notch above many like novels. The publisher compares the book to the work of James Lee Burke; if booksellers push that comparison, or if they aim the title at a hip, youthful readership, it could make out like a bandit. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., France and Japan. (Dec.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Cook's style is very similar to Cormac McCarthy.
Bridget Hockney
I would have liked the style better with normal punctuation for quotes, which I took liberty in adding to the section excerpted above.
Joe Murray
You'll see a master writer at work with this story, all the while being totally swept along with the narrative.
ProfessionalWritingCoach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on January 31, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Robbers" is an astonishing debut novel. Cook is as easy with his craft and characters as if he had been at this for years. The East Texas honky-tonk, just-getting-by-but-not-quite, the On the Road ambiance is the warp and weave of this book.
Ex-cons Eddie and Ray Bob, "runnin' buddies," stop at a convenience store for cigarettes. Eddie is a penny short of the price, and the stuffy clerk is adamant, and Eddie shoots him. It is hard to tell who is more amazed, Eddie or the victim. Eddie carefully lays down four one dollar bills and goes back to the car whereupon Ray Bob rushes back, cleans out the till (and retrieves Eddie's four dollars) grabs snacks, cartons of cigarettes and sandwiches. When he ambles back to the ragtop Caddie (stolen?), he announces, "You can't steal from a dead man." Their odyssey has begun, a rampage of raiding convenience stores and leaving dead clerks. They are shot with luck, as there never are any witnesses and things go well until they pick up Della, who has had a spot of trouble of her own.
Ray Bob is vicious, highly intelligent psychopath who is jealous of Della coming between him and his runnin' buddy. Eddie, a sweet dim bulb with the soul of an artist, is clearly over his head with the murderous Ray Bob and infatuated with Della. Della, an almost "babe" (her eyes are too close together) is a combination of low down schemer and "what's a nice girl like me doing with thugs like you."
You get to know these three like members of your family (though you wouldn't want to admit you knew them.) There is a Texas Ranger grimly trying to trail him, and victim's husband who is a religious zealot and a gun nut who is following the ranger, but Ray Bob, Eddie and Della are blissfully unaware. Texas wraps around you like a sandy scarf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joe Murray on May 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Timing is everything. For Christopher Cook's manuscript of his first novel "Robbers," everything couldn't have been worse.
The day the book was sent out for bids from publishers was the day, two years ago April 20, of the Columbine school massacre.
Nobody, that day, was looking for a modern Western shoot-'em-up. Not one publisher made a bid.
"Robbers" eventually found its place between hard covers (Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., New York) and is on its way to finding widespread readership, chalking up excellent reviews, including The New York Times.
Here's my personal endorsement: I read it three times in the past month and have recommended it to most everybody I think would enjoy it.
That's not necessarily everybody.
"Robbers" puts you on the road with a couple of Texas psycho, good- ol'- boy bad guys on a murder spree of convenience store clerks, beginning with a fellow who was a penny foolish.
When one of the pair, Eddie, comes up one cent short for a pack of cigarettes at an Austin 7-Eleven, the clerk --"a plump young man with burnished bronze skin and a black mustache, either Indian or Pakistani" -- refuses to cut the price even a penny.
"'What kind of !#$% country you come from?'" Eddie says, flipping the top of his Zippo open and shut in one hand.
"'Very fine country,'" the clerk says. "'Where we pay for what we get.'"
"'Listen to me. This is America. Gimmee them cigarettes.'"
"Only the guy didn't budge. Not one word, just standing there like a chocolate Deputy Doright. A corner of his mouth lifting slightly, either a smirk or twitch."
That's when Eddie "hoisted a leg and reached into his boot. Pulled a .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
(The following review by Reed Holland appears in the December issue of Texas Co-op Power magazine) --- Robbers falls within the genre of darkly comic, smart-talk thrillers of Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy and James Lee Burke. Cook, whose novel will soon be published in England, France and Japan, writes with evangelical rhythms and a sheer joy for words that can make his prose read like Faulkner¹s or Cormac McCarthy's: "Vast stretches of land to a horizon unbroken save for lonely trailer homes perched queerly in the stepped green-brown expanse, as if dropped from the sky as an alien afterthought." Cook, who lives in Austin, aspires to the literary noire. He finds it in wasteland along the Houston Ship Channel that once was a leper colony, a highway on the Bolivar Peninsula broken away by the Gulf of Mexico, and a hardwood overstory so thick in Jasper County that a deluge of rain roars on the canopy, slowly dripping through, as the action takes a hair-raising turn. Make what you will of Cook's antiheroes, violence and frank carnality, but here's a Texas writer whose eye is keen, and whose voice is sure and strong.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
(The following pre-release review was published in the fiction section of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on October 9, 2000) --- The harsh, foreboding essence of rural Texas dominates Cook's bloody, bittersweet debut novel, charting the adventures of two criminal drifters and their pursuer ... The boys' aimless adventure eventually includes Della, a woman who patterns her life on women's magazines and desperately aspires to middle-class respectability ... as crafty Texas Ranger, Rule Hooks, picks up their scent. Hooks, a tracker by training and instinct, relies on modern police methods as well as his gut instincts to sniff out his prey. Cook's plot tumbles from scene to scene with jarring brilliance, the pathos of his characters lending his otherwise brutal world a certain beauty. His imagery is striking, almost lyrical ... This gritty crime drama is not for the faint of heart, but Cook¹s prose sets it a notch above many like novels. The publisher compares the book to the work of James Lee Burke; if booksellers push this comparison, or if they aim the title at a hip, youthful readership, it could make out like a bandit.
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