The New York Times Book Review

December 24, 2000


Bad boys like Ray Bob and Eddie need no introduction; they just are what they are, ”outsiders from the rural frontier . . . young and unemployed and broke, trawling boredom after a late greasy lunch.”

Christopher Cook puts the match to these combustible ”running buddies” in ROBBERS (Carroll & Graf, $24.95), a debut novel with classic noir bones, when he sets them down in Austin, Tex., in a stolen Eldorado and points them to the highway. Eddie, the stupid one, comes up a penny short for a pack of smokes, so he shoots the clerk at the 7-Eleven, giving Ray Bob, the crazy one, the excuse for a crime spree.

Jumping lanes to elude a mean Texas Ranger on their trail, the outlaws shoot, rape and rob their way to Galveston and would still be tearing up the blacktop if Eddie hadn’t fallen for a Houston hairdresser with higher aspirations. This is familiar plot territory, but Cook covers it with fearless originality, in a lyric voice that sings itself raw.



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