Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Location(s): West Africa
Set against the background of corrupt government and voracious oil companies, Cooper’s Promise is the story of Sergeant Cooper Chance, army deserter and sharpshooter, who’s ended up adrift in a West African country. He wants nothing more than to go home, but he can’t knowing that he’ll be jailed, and Cooper is acutely claustrophobic.
He survives by trading diamonds stolen by children from the government mines, and meets Sadiq, a young Arab diamond merchant who is even more lost in the world than Cooper. They fall in love, which lets each of them begin to make sense of the world and find their places in it.
When huge oil fields are discovered in the country, the local CIA station chief, in a plot to ensure America’s control over them, offers Cooper an honorable discharge and a way home if he assassinates the country’s president during a visit by the U.S. Secretary of State.
Cooper has his own war to fight: the need to redeem himself for failing to protect his stepsister from his predatory father, which is the reason he ran off and joined the army in the first place. He’s befriended a teenage prostitute, Lulay, whose innate innocence reminds Cooper of his stepsister. Unbeknownst to him, Lulay has been trafficked, and is sold again and disappears. In exchange for the CIA man’s help in finding her, Cooper finally agrees to carry out the assassination.
The time comes for the joint appearance of the country’s president and U.S. Secretary of State. Only moments after Cooper assassinates the president, a second assassin fatally wounds the Secretary. He recognizes the second assassin to be Munir, a friend of Sadiq’s, and chases them back to his diamond shop. When Munir aims to shoot Cooper, Sadiq throws himself on him and is killed instead. Gloating, Munir takes his time to take a second shot at Cooper, giving the CIA man a chance to show up and shoot him instead.
Though Sadiq, his first true love, is dead, Cooper has fulfilled his CIA mission and redeemed himself by saving Lulay. He can now go home.
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