On reading: Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Time to read:

3 minutes

Title: Razorblade Tears

Author: S. A. Cosby

From the back: Ike Randolph left jail fifteen years ago, with not so much as a speeding ticket since. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

Ike is devastated to learn his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Though he never fully accepted his son, Ike is broken by his death.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was as ashamed of Derek being gay as Derek was of his father’s criminal past. But Buddy Lee – with seedy contacts deep in the underworld – needs to know who killed his only child.

Desperate to do better by them in death than they did in life, two hardened ex-cons must confront their own prejudices about their sons – and each other – as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

The gist: Razorblade Tears is a fast paced, violent tale of grief, vengeance, and redemption that might not be within reach. It’s gritty, and the characters are flawed – the protagonists racist and homophobic. It’s not pretty, and the redemption in turn, might be limited. But there are efforts to address their past and their attitudes in a way that doesn’t erase it, as history exists regardless, and no number of apologies can change that. There is some change and growth amid the violence and carnage.

And there is a lot of carnage.

What really stands out about this book, and reminds me of Cosby’s excellent Blacktop Wasteland, is the action and dialogue. Cosby has real skill when it comes to the talking, whether that talking’s being done with mouths or fists.

There’s no denying this is an edge of your seat, white knuckle trip. Punches are thrown, guns are fired, explosions are big enough to put most fireworks events to shame. There’s blood and there’s car chases and there’s motorbikes. There’s not much time or room for rests and naps, but this all adds up to a book that whisks you through it in the space of an evening or weekend.

Mainly though, for me, it’s the dialogue where Cosby really shines. His protagonists are witty with dry humour, or curt with rage and grief, and they bounce off each other in the way that all the best characters do. For all of their faults and for all of the reasons you don’t like them, it’s their conversations that let you build a little warmth for them, that let you care what happens to them. There’s an art to writing good dialogue, and Cosby makes it look easy.

Razorblade Tears pitches some hefty topics into a thrilling revenge story, in a gritty crime thriller well worth your time.

Favourite line: He had the self-assurance of most mediocre men.

Read if: You want a gripping thriller dealing with some hefty topics.

Read with: A free evening because there ain’t nothing you’re gonna want to be interrupting this with.

Get it: Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

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