You may have noticed, if you’re one of my many (at least three or four) regular readers, that the last book I reviewed before this one was S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland. I’m not in the habit of reading two novels in a row by the same author—so many books, so little time—but Blacktop Wasteland, the story of a former criminal pulled into one last job to give his family a better life, blew me away.
The excellent news for lovers of crime fiction is that Razorblade Tears is even better.
A gay, biracial couple is savagely murdered, leaving behind a young child. Not surprisingly, the police do not seem overly concerned with solving this brutal crime. Enter the fathers of the two men. The fathers—one white, one black, both ex-cons with violent histories—share a common shame and regret. Neither was accepting of his son’s sexuality. Haltingly, grudgingly, they agree to team up in search of their sons’ killers.
This is a tale of revenge, yes, and Cosby writes action scenes and violence with a frightening intensity, a kinetic energy that makes his prose charge along like a dynamite truck without brakes. But Razorblade Tears is so much more than just a crackling good crime novel. Ike and Buddy Lee, the two fathers, are forced to confront their demons directly, to deal with uncomfortable truths about themselves. Cosby never shies away from subjects like racism, homophobia, and transphobia.
He also has a real gift for dialogue that can be by turns threatening and funny, but always feels authentic.
Razorblade Tears‘ characters, both main and supporting, are well developed and fully realized. I was especially drawn to Cosby’s depiction of family, the way grief can tear it apart and love can, just maybe, hold it together.
The fact that Razorblade Tears is an amazing read should come as no surprise, as it’s made many best-of lists. I can only add that it belongs right near the top of those lists.