Robbers — Print Editions

Note: The novel Robbers has enjoyed a worldwide audience. It’s fascinating to see how the cover art varies. See examples of those foreign edition covers below.


“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… 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…

“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.”

—Publishers Weekly

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UK-South Africa-Australia


Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
     —Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to man. We are fools for Christ’s sake.”
     —Paul the Apostle, Corinthians 4: 9-10

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
     —the White Queen to Alice


So what happens when people apply their religion to life’s hard choices in the small East Texas town of Bethlehem, where churches of various denominations are located on almost every block?

First comes a mysterious apparition of Jesus. Or is it? And is it a blessing or a curse? Then a woman turns into a snake. A wealthy banker confuses prudence with greed, with dire consequences. A woman has her grandchildren secretly baptized at a Holiness Tabernacle. A man is torn between his “sinful” TV watching and his fundamentalist wife. And an ethical young woman boldly confronts her rich father’s ambition…

These are among the characters who appear in this entertaining and superbly written collection of 10 stories exploring small town religion and the human quest for dignity and meaning. Sometimes funny, often tragic, the resulting conflicts are deeply personal yet have social repercussions. In the end, one wonders if organized religion truly helps anyone on a spiritual journey.

But one thing is certain: The award-winning author of these stories profoundly understands the aspirations we all hold and the pitfalls endured as we try to live by our ideals while reconciling ourselves with the competing beliefs of others.

And though the setting is richly specific—the culture of the Deep South—the stories engage us in universal truths as well as universal deceptions.

The author’s writing style has often been compared to Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy, and Daniel Woodrell, among others. But his short stories are more reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor or Isaac Bashevis Singer—poetic, powerful, and all too human.

The print edition of Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories was released in December 2001.

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Bethlehem, Texas — (French Edition)

Cerné de bois de pins, à la limite de la Louisiane, Bethlehem (Texas) n’a rien d’une métropole, c’est clair. Deux chiens qui se battent c’est un événement et tout ce qui occupe les gens là-bas c’est la religion.

Mère Harper, « une baptiste pure et dure mais gentille quand même » découvre, alors qu’elle arrose ses glaïeuls, l’image du Christ incrustée dans la moustiquaire de la porte d’entrée. S’ensuit un raz-de-marée de pèlerins en transe qui arasent son jardin. La vieille dame commence à perdre la boule tandis que le photographe de Bethlehem profite du filon pour vendre quantités de clichés du Christ-moustiquaire.

Madame Cunningham fait baptiser en douce ses deux petit-fils car ils ont péché en regardant la télévision. C’est Père Odon qui l’a dit, lors du prêche dominical. Son mari, passant outre menaces et invectives, avait installé un poste pour que les enfants regardent, le temps des vacances, leur série préférée : « Shérif, fais-moi peur ! ».

Hank et Dune, deux vigiles sont chargés de protéger des théologiens menacés par une bande de fondamentalistes qui leur promet de rôtir en enfer. Les deux lascars décident d’épier les conversations. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire œcuménisme ? demande l’un. L’autre lui répond à sa façon…

En dix histoires très tendres et très noires Christopher Cook sort du néant une Amérique ignorée des romanciers. Celle des Blancs du sud, ouvriers ou chômeurs, peu éduqués, pétris de préjugés, vivant à la campagne ou dans de petites agglomérations, payés au salaire minimum, convaincus que la violence est une solution et fondus de christianisme. L’Amérique la plus archaïque, la plus contemporaine.

Bethlehem, Texas (French Edition), Rivages; Rivages / Poche edition (March 13, 2006).

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