Blacktop Wasteland was a book that got so much hype around its release that I do what I normally do, I buy a copy and keep it on my shelf and that that saintly dust settle before I dive into it – because as I’ve grown to appreciate over the years, sometimes the hype surrounding a book can destroy its brilliance, as many times things don’t live up to the hype. One persons hype is another persons meh…
So with this in mind I’d bought the book and left it in the TBR cart for quite some time, it literally had dust on it when I pulled it from the stack and set about breaking that cover open.
My goodness what a damn book and S.A.Cosby what a writer, he’s propelled himself into that category of writer that I need to chase down, that I need to consume and support and champion… it’s going to be a long time relationship I can just tell!
Cosby writes with raw brilliance, his book has prose magic littered throughout and the story is everything I look for in a crime book but also fiction in general. The pacing, the characters, the plot all work to create a reading experience that lives long in the memory, part of this also is that the book is so cinematic that you could literally visualise it playing out in film and on a screen – and I hope and pray that some production company picks this up and makes a film out of it, because it is film worthy (just don’t go changing things in the process – the book in my opinion is perfect).
The pacing as I said starts right out of the blocks, we join Beauregard as he is racing for money on the streets, he wins but then is conned out of his money by some cops – but that is the match thrown on the tinderbox of a book. The story soon catches alight and we are racing through, the pace of the story drags us along as if we’d been hit by a car and are clinging on for dear life. And it never lets up!
I also love the way that Cosby also addresses the racial tensions in America, how our protagonist is the recipient of these racial slurs and bigoted views as the story progresses but Cosby doesn’t dive head long into showing us this cruel underbelly, he hints at these and gives us and our characters some justice along the way – but he doesn’t flinch in showing us how it is.
There is a scene early on in the book where at the street race some police turn up and Cosby brilliantly paints this image that’s been screened around the world on mobile phones or news stations of young black men on the cut side being presided over by white cops – Cosby puts us right in the action, in the hearts and minds of these young men that are fearful and anxious of catching a bullet from two white police offices who are trolling them because of the colour of their skin.
Beauregard has turned his life around, he’s done some bad things in his life but now he’s a father and a husband and that life is well in his rearview mirror – but as his company begins to go under, as the bills start building up and money is as rare as hens teeth someone from his past turns up with a get rich quick scheme that will pull Beauregard back into the underworld that he’s tried so hard to leave behind. The internal conflict of this story and of Beauregard’s life is expertly out across abs gives us something that drives the story forward, will he do what he’s set out to do, will his life be torn apart and will he just keep on repeating the sins of his father (who is in the wind) – you’ll need to read to find out!
Blacktop Wasteland is sensational and you need to discover it, a full on ride into the self destructive nature of man, a man who’s got nothing else to loose is a very dangerous thing indeed. Masterful and raw… check it out!
Blacktop Wasteland is available here.
S. A. Cosby is an Anthony Award-winning writer from Southeastern Virginia. He is the bestselling author of Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist, and the upcoming Razorblade Tears. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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