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Posted March 2, 2009
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The front cover of Cooper's Deale says that it is a "Romantic Comedy," so the reader might expect light entertaining fare. While there are some scenes that are reminiscent of the Keystone Cops or the Three Stooges, the greatest part of the book isn't very humorous or funny. That doesn't mean this isn't an interesting story, but that notice on the cover is rather perplexing.
Addy Cooper is called home suddenly by the death of her grandmother in an accident that certainly is unusual. She's hit by a piece of debris from space. Addy doesn't have anything to hold her in California since she's managed to lose her job and her lover in the same day, so she returns to Deale, Maryland, to plan the funeral and care for her brother Tommy, who thinks he's a bird and lives in a tree house. This might seem funny, but what Addy has to deal with certainly isn't. Her brother is fleeing from a tragedy early in their lives and she is forced to take in boarders to support them because she can't risk moving him anywhere else. Unfortunately, Addy arrives back in town just as the FBI is launching an investigation into possible terrorist activity in the town and then a dead body is found on the Cooper's land. Addy finds herself having to deal with Officer Karen Kaczarowski, the love of her life who betrayed her six years before. Addy is totally shaken when she finds that both she and Tommy are suspects in the murder and she doesn't know who to trust. When she realizes the terrorists might be coming after Tommy, she'll have to take a chance and maybe end up ruining things for herself and Tommy forever.
There is a lot to recommend this book. It shows the type of close-knit community that can exist in a small town, especially one that comes together to protect a man-boy who can't face the reality of his situation. There are quirky characters who become endearing when they will do anything to protect Tommy from the forces that would harm him, including the FBI. The would-be terrorists are detailed just enough to reveal how they set the investigation in motion and to show the threat they could be to the Coopers. Addy at times is irritating in her behavior, but her devotion to Tommy is admirable.
Cooper's Deale isn't truly a comedy, though it does have some funny scenes in it. It is a romance, but the major message seems to be how confusing it can be to decide what or who you really want and that you'll make mistakes along the way to deciding. It certainly is topical in that it features domestic terrorists who want to use a "dirty" bomb and deals somewhat with the terrible environmental damage being done to the Chesapeake Bay. A better description would be that the book is an enjoyable combination of romance and adventure with some parts that will make the reader laugh, but it's hardly the the slapstick tale that the blurb on the cover seems to indicate. If the reader likes a happy ending however and believes that love conquers all, this is the book to read.