Ronald Dominique raped and murdered twenty-three men near New Orleans and Houma, Louisiana, between 1997 and 2006. Most of them were poor and black, and many were the wandering type—men Dominique picked up in his truck at night, not ones whose disappearances for a stretch of time would particularly alarm their families. After one of Dominique’s would-be victims escaped and alerted authorities, a task force that had been assembled to investigate the murders matched Dominique’s DNA to DNA found on one of the bodies. Dominique confessed over a period of two days to all of the killings.
The issue to which Cook turns most frequently, though, affects all the region’s ethnicities—the tension between maintaining a living tradition and treating culture like a museum piece, to protect and coddle while it becomes obsolete. The music Cook seeks—Cajun, zydeco, swamp pop, blues—has been played in the same basic manner for many decades and is attached to sets of customs much older.