“Folks like to talk about revenge like it’s a righteous thing but it’s just hate in a nicer suit.” -S.A. Cosby
Nearly one year to the day that I finished BLACKTOP WASTELAND, one of my favorite novels of 2020, I turned the final page of S.A. Cosby’s magnificent follow up, RAZORBLADE TEARS, and even though it’s only July I can confidently declare that the results are the same. This will no doubt be one of my favorite reads of the year.
The setup for this crime novel is familiar, but with a fresh, modern spin: when Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins wake up to the news that their sons were the victims of a double homicide, they are left to mourn while contending with feelings of guilt -- the fathers could never fully accept the fact that their sons were married. When the police investigation goes cold and the gravestone is vandalized, Ike and Buddy Lee decide to seek vengeance as an effort to deal with their homophobic pasts. The resulting odyssey takes place over a blisteringly quick paced 320 pages that somehow still finds ample opportunities for Cosby to provide commentary on a wide range of social issues through the initially contentious, but dynamic relationship of Ike and Buddy Lee.
Both men have lessons to learn and Cosby is behind them with the pen, steering them into redemption with a volley of memorable metaphors and endearing heart to hearts. Cosby’s prose is hard hitting and cinematic in its delivery. I found myself casting Denzel Washington and Walton Goggins early on in the book and with a film option already on the way, I look forward to seeing these characters on the screen, no matter who ends up in the roles. Violent, but heartfelt, RAZORBLADE TEARS is a profound meditation on the state of the American Dream in 2021. It is a truly remarkable tale of grief, tragic loss, and coming to understandings.
Sometimes, the road to understanding is paved with razorblades. 5/5 stars.
Donnie Goodman is a reader, writer, and collector of horror fiction. He runs the bookstagram page and YouTube show, "The Horror Hypothesis" and writes book reviews for SCREAM! Magazine. When he is not out in the wild, searching for Paperbacks From Hell in Central Virginia, he is likely reading, writing, or playing video games. His first collection, THE RAZORBLADES IN MY HEAD, is out now. He also has some short stories coming soon from various publishers in the horror community.