Smith, Timothy Jay. “Cooper’s Promise”, Owl Canyon Press, 2012.
Cooper Chase, an army sharpshooter and deserted is trapped. He was recruited from Iraq to go to an African country that is in the midst of a civil war. Cooper really wants to go home but he knows that if he does he will go to jail. Even though he doesn’t want to, he is forced to lead the life of a mercenary. I suppose we can describe him as desperate and as a way to escape the position he is in, he begins to trade diamonds. By chance, one day, when walking into a diamond shop, he meets Sadiq, a young merchant who like himself seems to have no direction in life. Here we have to men who are lost in the world.
Sadiq and Cooper fall in love and unbeknownst to Cooper, Sadiq has ulterior motives. Cooper suddenly receives the opportunity for a new assignment— new oil reserves have been discovered and Cooper meets with CIA officers who offer him a way home with no jail time if he will carry out a rather dangerous mission. Cooper is willing to do anything to go home but he is not ready to become the property of the United States government. He was ready to decline the offer when a young prostitute, Lulay disappears and this is the same person that Cooper had promised to help. He agrees to the mission with no idea of what awaits him.
Cooper is quite a complex character and writer Smith has gone to great lengths to build him. He is a lonely person and has not had an easy life. He deserted the military and is looking for some way to survive in a small town in Africa. Emotionally and physically, he is starving. He walks the streets looking for something although he is not sure what it is. The CIA is badly in need of his skills as a sharpshooter and he only agrees to work for the agency because of his promise to a young street whore.
What we see is that behind the hard outer shell of Cooper is a good man who has been jaded by life. It is this that makes him the man that he is and the reader wants to know all about him. Here I must tell you that you should clear your schedule before you start reading because you will be so engrossed that everything else will seem unimportant.
There are several themes in the book—tragedy and suffering, trafficking, child prostitution, gay love and romance, blackmail, sexual harassment, terrorism and diamond dealing. You would think that this had better be an epic novel in order to cover all of those. However, that is not the case and Smith is able to bring everything together in a tad over 200 pages. I really admire the way he dealt with the homosexual theme here; he does so with style and grace.
This is a character driven novel and because of this, the plot suffers a bit. We get to know the characters but we are never sure where the story is going. We also get vivid descriptions and like I said earlier, it is quite easy to take a step into the action and not just observe it from the pages of the book.
- Posted in: GLBT fiction