Review by Brennan LaFaro
Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland was a top five book last year. His grasp on characterization and ability to write compelling action scenes grabbed a lot of attention, mine included. Razorblade Tears is even better.
The story kicks off with Ike finding out his estranged son has been murdered. He joins forces with Buddy Lee, a fellow ex-con whose son was married to Ike’s son. Neither man stands especially proud of the way their relationship with their sons played out and together they seek to find the people behind it and make them wish they were never born.
You’d be hard-pressed to find two characters in the most self-proclaimed literary of fiction as Ike and Buddy Lee who are as fully-realized and graced with depth as Cosby’s protagonists. They well and truly are not great men, but the author sprinkles backstory and subtext into the narrative sparingly and with such care that the reader finds themself turning the pages at the halfway point and realizing they’d jump right in the truck with these two and do anything to help their cause.
Razorblade Tears is loaded with social commentary, and kudos must be given to Cosby for dealing with such heavy-handed topics as racism, homophobia, and another one I won’t name hear for spoiler reasons tactfully and with emotional depth. He’ll receive backlash from those that don’t believe these things are an issue in modern America, and I suspect he’ll brush that dirt off his shoulder without a second thought. There is a particularly poignant scene set in a barber shop that had me quoting Seinfeld. “What is this salty discharge?”
It’s only May, so it’s hard to say this is my novel of the year, but at the moment it’s just that. There’s not a single box on my list of what makes a compelling read this one didn’t check. Great characters, emotional investment, stellar pacing, authenticity in spades. You name it. Razorblade Tears is a special, special book and Cosby has a fan for life in me.
I received a copy from the publisher for review consideration.