Razorblade Tears by S.A Cosby
July 6, 2021, by Flatiron
Review by Melinda
S.A. Cosby wrote a fantastic book last year – Blacktop Wasteland – that I didn’t think he could do again because it was that good, but I think I like Razorblade Tears even more, if possible. The book opens with a Black father, Ike, and a white father, Buddy Lee, burying their two sons who were married and had a daughter together. Neither father had 100% accepted their son’s homosexuality when they were alive and the shame they feel at this just vibrates off the page. The way that Cosby was able to reflect this shame at every possible turn and in different ways was incredibly beautiful, and achingly sad to me. The book is set in Virginia and the narration was incredible as it added so much to the experience. Narrator Adam Lazarre-White had the perfect voice to bring the book to life.
Buddy Lee and Ike set out to seek vengeance on whoever killed their sons, and it becomes apparent as the book goes on that the shame they feel internally is being turned into rage and violence externally. This is an incredibly fast paced, action packed book, yet it also manages to have incredible conversations between these two older Southern men about their regrets when it came to their sons. The characterization of these two are fantastically nuanced as the men go on this journey. It’s incredibly violent, and unflinching in that violence, and also takes a direct look at both the racism and homophobia their sons face and the racism Ike faces daily.
This book has already been optioned for film, and I truly hope it’s one that actually happens because the book felt like it was meant to be on the screen. But only if it’s done with care and a soft touch because this book absolutely felt like it was. I highly recommend this book, just go in knowing what to expect.
CW: murder, violence, hate crimes, homophobia, racism
July 20, 2021, by William Morrow
Review by Melinda
This book is a brutal telling of the worst of the US during the pandemic and the last 20 years or so with addiction, sexual violence, and more. I listened to it and the narration is fantastic by Kathleen Early, I definitely recommend listening to it, if you can, although it is long at around 16 hours. This story is told in present day, but starts with sisters Callie and Leigh dealing with the pedophile, Buddy, in 1998. After some pretty horrific abuse Callie had murdered Buddy, and Leigh helped with covering this up. The rest of the novel features the two of them dealing with the repercussions of this 20 years later.
The COVID angle really worked in this novel because it’s just a part of it. Some of the characters had it, and recovered, Slaughter used masks to add nuance to characters, and it was part of their lives. However, it wasn’t the main storyline in any way. I think this was a smart choice to make.
Present day Leigh is an Attorney, and her newest client is connected to her past crimes. The sexual violence that is part of these crimes was the most difficult part of the book for me so be forewarned on that, Slaughter never holds back but is not gratuitous in any way. Also, I’ve read her previous books and was glad to see something that was not a police procedural type book from her. She always does a great job at showing the dark side of addiction, crime, sexual violence…whatever she writes about she is extremely thorough in showing its nuances.
This is well-written and really well-done. But it’s difficult read, I’m sure anyone picking up a Karin Slaughter book is aware of that though!
CW: Pedophilia, Sexual violence, rape, murder, abuse