Texas Monthly review

December 2000

Vice Grip: Cook’s recipe for crime

By Anne Dingus

In one sense this earthy first novel by Austinite Christopher Cook is a feel-good book: Compared with the title character, you can’t help but feel good about your own relatively decent self. In ROBBERS, two aimless outlaws, Ray Bob and Eddie, hook up and, in a sort of quien-es-mas-macho contest, set out on a killing adventure that is far too casual to be called a spree. A surly Texas Ranger lopes after them in determined pursuit, a chance encounter with a wayward beautician causes even more tension for the gunning buddies.

The characters are hardly sympathetic, but Cook clearly has the suspense-building gene; his writing, fluid yet visceral, compels the reader to hang in there while the nerve-jangling plot tick-tick-ticks toward its explosive end.

The author especially excels in the laconic, cuss word-laced dialogue of Western menfolk (cuss word-laced? Hell, it’s filthy!) and in clever coinages all his own: For example, he dubs the West Coasters moving to Austin “cyberokies” and the brutish, red-headed Ray Bob is a “coppernob.” For such a writer, crime (fiction) can’t help but pay.



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