C ooper Chance, Army sharpshooter and deserter, wants to go home, but cannot knowing that he’ll be jailed. He’s ended up a mercenary in Africa in a gritty world of thugs, prostitutes and corrupt cops. He trades diamonds to survive and meets Sadiq, a young merchant as lost in the world as he is. They fall in love, but unbeknownst to Cooper, the youth has ulterior motives. When huge oil reserves are discovered, the CIA offers Cooper a way home without jail time if he carries out a risky high-stakes mission. Cooper balks until a teenage prostitute he’s promised to save is trafficked and disappears. In hopes of rescuing her, Cooper agrees to carry out the CIA’s plot with unexpected consequences.
Cooper Chance is “a complex character in the vein of classical leading men. If Humphrey Bogart were alive today, he’d be attracted to this role…” Fresh Voices International
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“Sgt. Cooper Chance, an Army deserter, spends his days in Lalanga, drinking cheap gin in a dive. He makes a promise to Lulay, a young girl who sells herself each night, to someday take her away. What little money Cooper makes comes from buying smuggled diamonds from a blind boy and his sister, and turning a meager profit at an Arab merchant’s shop. There, he meets the merchant’s son, Sadiq, with whom he becomes quickly enamored; he longs to accidentally run into him at a local hammam (a bathhouse and massage parlor). But Cooper’s life is confounded by a strange man named Sam Brown, who offers him a way to return to the United States with an honorable discharge—if he’ll use his sharpshooter skills again. Smith’s first effort is a poignant experience. He wastes no time in deftly establishing the atmosphere: ice-cold glasses set against sweaty brows in the blistering heat, with frequent power outages that leave Cooper lying on the bed as he waits for the ceiling fan to come back to life. Characters are enhanced by their association with Cooper’s past: His need to save Lulay recalls his kid sister being tormented by their father, while his wariness of forming affection for Sadiq echoes a horribly failed relationship in the Army. At its best, the book is slightly refitted yet indomitable noir: the protagonist knocked out cold and tossed in jail; Lulay’s constant pleading for help like a vulnerable dame “hiring” Chance; and the mysterious Sadiq calling to mind a femme—or homme—fatale. The novel, a quick read at a little over 200 pages, is rounded out by sharp, cynical dialogue: ‘Where’s this?’ Chance asks, pointing to a postcard; ‘Somewhere else,’ he’s told. Literary dynamite.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Cooper Chance is one of the good guys, despite being an Army sharpshooter, deserter and mercenary. Stranded in Lalanga, a small African country where diamonds are the currency and children are sold into slavery and prostitution, Cooper takes a young girl, Lulay, under his wing. But he has no source of income for food, let alone extra to pay her enough to keep her from “working,” so he takes to the underground diamond trade. Through child diamond smuggler connections, Cooper gets into the racket and encounters children who have lost hands as punishment for stealing, as well as other butchering.The saddest note of all is that while the country in “Cooper’s Promise” is fictitious, the conditions are very real. Readers will quickly come to care about the characters and their story — which will linger long after the book is over.” – The Philadelphia Gay News, Suggested Reading “Timothy Jay Smith’s Cooper’s Promise: A Novel is an intriguing potpourri of themes that include a compassionate vision of tragedy and suffering, human trafficking, child prostitution, gay love, blackmail, sexual harassment in the military, diamond dealing and terrorism, CIA shenanigans, and promises made and kept, even if it involves assassination. It is also a novel that beneath its surface swirls with elements that become more disturbing the closer you look.” – American Chronicle, Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
“Smith and his novel are jointly fascinating in the way that Gore Vidal and Ernest Hemingway were…” – South Florida Gay News
“…passionate thriller.” – Sydney Star Observer
“Readers will quickly come to care about the characters and their story–which will linger long after the book is over.” – Philadelphia Gay News
“…you should clear your schedule before you start reading because you will be so engrossed that everything else will seem unimportant.” – The LL Book Review
“If you can handle an intense read, give it a try.” – Simply Stacie
“Mr. Smith hooked me.” – MM Good Book Reviews
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