A wild, baroque pulp festival – The New York Times Time


From SA Cosby

It’s hard to make a name for yourself in crime fiction, but once you do it everyone knows – for starters, your name will appear on the covers of your novels in letters that are larger than the titles. Imagine any book by Sara Paretsky or Lee Child: they typically include the author’s name in an enormous dot size with the title in smaller letters underneath, usually over a generic and largely interchangeable image. (“Close-up Fingerprint” and “Man in Crosshair” are popular options.)

SA Cosby isn’t in name-bigger-than-title territory yet, but he’s in a hurry. His most recent novel, Blacktop Wasteland, about a reluctant getaway caught up in one final score that went badly wrong, won a Los Angeles Times book award and was named the New York Times Notable Book of the Year. What caught people’s attention wasn’t the off-the-shelf premise, but the bespoke execution: Cosby’s prose is lively and inventive, his action exuberant and relentless. He also planted a noir flag in the under-explored area of ​​poor rural Black Louisiana, where crossing borders has less to do with legality and illegality than with a system that never catches your breath.

If the premise of his last novel sounded familiar, the premise for his new novel “Razorblade Tears” is striking – in fact, it has already caught the eye of Jerry Bruckheimer, who made the story optional for Paramount. Ike “Riot” Randolph, a black, and Buddy Lee Jenkins, a white, are the fathers of two gay men, Isiah and Derek, who were married to each other and have just been murdered. The fathers – each of whom has served a sentence for violent crimes; each of them has acquired what Liam Neeson describes in “Taken” as “very special skills”; and each of them has felt different degrees of aversion to his son’s sexuality – decides to band together and track down the killers. You’re probably already dreaming about it: Denzel is the first father and … Clint Eastwood is too old for that now, right?

As with “Blacktop Wasteland,” you may get to build but stick to storytelling. Cosby writes in a spirit of generous abundance and cheerful devotion and, unlike many noir writers, he does not shy away from operatic feelings. His antiheroes scold, they cry, they beat their chests in fear and beat their fists in anger and of course they devastate many villains in great Gothic geysers of blood. They speak in lyrical sermons (“I’m as careful as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs”) and Cosby herself is fearless when it comes to brooding colorful parables in the great tradition of baroque pulp. A character’s wound “wept like a broken-hearted bride”; another shoots a shotgun in the middle, and “his bowels and bowels began to unroll like a ribbon of saltwater toffee soaked in Merlot.” Exaggerated, sure, but there is no way your mind will remember this picture the next time you’re in a wine bar or strolling the boardwalk in Ocean City.


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