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Razorblade Tears

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Razorblade Tears 
S.A. Cosby


As I started reading this book, I kept thinking about the title and how painful can a circumstance be for a parent to cry razorblade tears. This book definitely explained it all. My heart was broken and this book moved from 0 to 150 miles per hour in a span of a few pages. This is my first S. A. Cosby book and I am jumping into Blacktop Wasteland next. 

In this story, two fathers, Ike and Buddy, both with a violent past take justice into their own hands, as they ban together to determine why their gay sons were murdered. 

The writing was incredibly gripping, readable and fast-paced. I loved this book! As I read, I could not help seeing the scenes in my head as a movie – which I think will be soon. 

Cosby’s extraordinary writing touched upon important themes as sexuality, love and loss, family loyalties, race and prejudice, fatherhood, and the guilt and acceptance. 

I just cannot stop recommending this book.
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Ike and Buddy Lee share little in common. They do have a few things in common though. They’re both ex-cons. They are the fathers of Isiah and Derek, an interracial gay couple who were gunned down. They both want revenge against the people behind their sons’ deaths.

Razorblade Tears is a gritty revenge mystery. Ike and Buddy Lee are both flawed characters with regrets. While they would both like redemption, they will settle for revenge. A well written and compelling novel.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This book. I hardly know what to say or how to even begin reviewing this book. As always, Cosby's characters are perfect imperfections. I could see people I love in my own life on these pages and the whole thing rang true. As Ike seeks to find out what happened to Isaiah and his husband Derek, and is joined by Buddy Lee, readers are ensnared in world that is so close to truth it feels like non-fiction. Sure, this is a crime novel, but it is almost as if Cosby was able to place life itself right on the page. This reader was brought to tears so many times; was surprised by laughter; was filled with the love and aches of the characters.

Better reviewers than I will do a much better job of imparting their thoughts. For me? Even if I tried over and over again, the best thing I know to say is that this book is important and begs to be read widely. Award winning for sure, and, perhaps more importantly, it will be important on a personal level to so many people.
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QUICK TAKE: Oh man…what are you even doing with that book in your hands? Just put it down and pick up RAZORBLADE TEARS…I guarantee you that your current read will taste like dust and ash in comparison to this action-packed, blood-soaked revenge thriller with an emotional bomb at the center that will detonate when you least expect it to. Is that a convincing enough review? This book kicks f*cking ass and I would be shocked if it’s not at the top of the list as one of my favorite books of 2021.
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Had to request because I loved the authors previous work! Did not disappoint. The storyline was even more intriguing than blacktop wasteland with the same face paced immersion in a life so different from mine. Loved it!
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S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland was the stand-out crime novel of 2020. A powerful heist novel with a large dose of social commentary and fine writing, it deservedly won praise and awards from around the world.

Now Cosby has followed it up with the equally impressive Razorblade Tears, about two fathers, one white and one black, seeking revenge for the murder of their sons. Both men were estranged from their gay sons, but when the boys are gunned down they decide to join forces and see that some form of justice is done. Together the two ex-cons set out on a mission of vengeance and redemption.

This is a blistering tale of lost opportunity and prejudice that powers along at a brisk pace. Cosby grips the reader’s attention from the telling first sentence – “Ike tried to remember a time when men with badges coming to his door early in the morning brought anything other than heartache and misery, but try as he might, nothing came to mind.” – and holds it all the way to the last sentence. Along the way he takes a sharp-eyed look at racism and homophobia and also paints a believable picture of the dark underbelly of America. His writing is emotional and compelling and the action has a cinematic feel to it. This is a superb piece of crime fiction.

Just as Blacktop Wasteland did in 2020, I expect that Razorblade Tears will dominate the crime fiction landscape in 2021.
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Read Razorblade Tears with one of my book clubs. Our discussion is not scheduled until after Labor Day but so far all of the reviews have been ecstatic. Personally, I couldn't help myself. Once I started I was rooted to my chair.  This book held my attention from the first page to the last.  Definitely worth all of the hype. Looking forward to reading S.A. Cosby's other bestseller Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby Blacktop Wasteland
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One of my favorite reads so far this year.

Last year I read Cosby's Blacktop Wasteland and it was one of my favorite reads of 2020 so I was really excited to have a chance to read his next release Razorblade Tears early. Cosby did not disappoint. In Razorblade Tears Ike and Buddy Lee are forced together after their married sons are murdered and there seems to be no leads or progress in the investigation. Both Ike and Buddy Lee are struggling with their individual guilt over not showing their sons that they loved them and neither of them had been able to accept their sons for the entirety of who they were. Ike and Buddy Lee have their own demons to wrestle and keep contained. Ike is trying to tap into the man that he was before he went to prison without letting the rush of violence take over the man he has become, and Buddy Lee is trying to keep his need for alcohol from keeping him from being the kind of man who does right by his son, even if it feels too late. The basic principle that Ike and Buddy Lee have adopted is if you can't get justice then vengeance will do. Cosby did a great job taking the reader on their journey through grief, violence, and eventually an acceptable resolution.
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Fast paced, action packed but filled with emotions! Characters that you like despite their many, many flaws. 
 I LOVED Blacktop Wasteland but I think RT is even better.  SA Cosby has become a go-to author for me!
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I really enjoyed reading this book!  Campy, violent and totally over the top.  While the big reveal was a bit predictable this book kept me totally entertained and was a nice change of pace from the types of mysteries I usually read.
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I don't usually gravitate towards thrillers, but we went away for the weekend and this was what was available to me to read. I have to say, I was enthralled. I kept thinking "ugh I don't like blood and guts and I'm going to put it down." But then hours later I would be wondering what happens to Ike and Billy Lee....I had to know. Four solid stars!
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Intense, heartbreaking and AMAZING. If you love action packed  Southern crime fiction with a superb storytelling this is a must read. Read in one sitting and totally unputdownable. Cosby is the King of Southern Crime Fiction. Blacktop Wasteland (2020) blew me away and Razorblade Tears blew that away. Get this book now!
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Last year, BLACKTOP WASTELAND was easily my favorite book of 2020, so I won’t lie when I say that I went into this one with really high expectations. Let me tell you, RAZORBLADE TEARS blew them out of the water. I knew going into it that I was probably going to end up binge-reading it and before I knew it half the book was finished and I couldn’t stop. Cosby’s writing style hits hard and is so addictive. Much like BLACKTOP WASTELAND, this is a very character driven novel and we get an incredibly clear picture of our main characters.

Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins are two men whose lives come colliding together after the deaths of their sons. When the police tell them that the investigation has gone inactive it doesn’t sit well with the grieving fathers. Both are ex-cons and have tried to keep their criminal lives in the past, but that is all about to change when they take the investigation into their own hands. They know from experience that not everyone will talk to cops but they have ways of making people cooperate. The journey these two go on together is intense. Not only are they trying to fight for their sons, but they also have to overcome their own prejudices about each other and come face-to-face with the lives of Isiah and Derek that they shut out because they didn’t approve of their marriage.

What I remember loving about BLACKTOP WASTELAND was how real the emotions felt. The agony, conflict, grief, regret, and anger these men were experiencing just jumped off the page. There were parts that gave me chills. Parts that just rip your heart out and, thankfully, some comedic relief from Buddy Lee. It’s so hard to articulate exactly how I feel about this book without potentially spoiling anything, but I think that it’s going to be one that sticks with you and makes you truly reflect. If you want a book with conflicted and complicated characters with a healthy dose of grit and action, then you need to get this book now (and not let it sit on the TBR stack for too long). I will never stop recommending either of Cosby’s books and now the wait begins for his next release.
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Ike Randolph has been out of jail for 15 years now. He swore to live a model citizen life with not even a speeding ticket since being free. But it's never a good thing when police show up at a Black man's door unexpected. They deliver the news that Ike's son, Isiah, has been murdered alongside his white husband, Derek. Derek's father is suffering and angry. Buddy Lee is a whiskey-drinking redneck with ties to the underworld just itching to get revenge. 

This unlikely pair joins forces to hunt and avenge the people who murdered their gay sons. With nothing in common besides being ex-cons and a fierce love of their dead sons, they band together for bloody revenge and confront their prejudices. This novel takes off with a gunshot bang and doesn't stop with the action suspense until the very end. Damn, it's good!

S.A. Cosby created a scenario that could unfortunately happen to two fathers in real life. The plot was not a stretch, making it quite an emotional read. Can you imagine hurting so deep that tears feel like razors? My heart went out to Ike and Buddy Lee in their quest to avenge their sons' senseless murders and bring justice by any means necessary.

Razorblade Tears would make an awesomesauce movie! I need to see the dangerous dads in action on the big screen. With characters names like Uncle Remus, Mini-Fro, Mr. Get Down, Tangerine, Light-skinned, Buddy Lee Jenkins and Ike Randolph, you can expect a colorful cast. TV/Movie Directors, contact me for suggestions—I know just the perfect actors for these roles and willing to offer my MasterClass screenwriting skills!  

Never a dull chapter in this new novel either. S.A. Cosby expertly weaved a tale of redemption with memorable scenes. Sometimes a forced alliance doesn't work in fiction. However, it adds an unpredictable element here. This is no good-cop-bad-cop duet. Buddy Lee and Ike are on a mission; may angels help whomever is in their way. Razorblade Tears is fast-paced so clear your plans for a weekend to get lost in its gritty pages. So worth it!

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3 stars from me. Those stars are for the premise, wittiness, pace and writing. 

I loved the premise.  I mean, older parents attempting to redeem themselves by going after their sons’ killers.

Where was the characters’ story arc. I’m not sure the two dads evolved at all. They stereo-types and tropes in this one had me lost in a bad Sons of Anarchy episode. There was even a reference to SOA in the book. Dead on!

I also had some issues with the plot. There were things within the story that just didn’t seem believable to me. But, it’s just a story so anything, I suppose, is possible.
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I had the privilege of reviewing this arresting social thriller for NPR Books. Here’s the opening. 

Reading Razorblade Tears is a visceral full-body experience, a sharp jolt to the heart, and a treat for the senses. S. A. Cosby's moody southern thriller marries the skillful action and plotting of Lee Child with the atmosphere and insight of Attica Locke.

At the center of the storm are two battle-scarred, middle-aged men who've served hard time — one Black, one white, both desperate to get some rough justice for their murdered sons. Cosby's characters are specific and vividly rendered, and he paints a determinedly bleak yet thoroughly compelling picture of their plight. A brash and unabashed redneck and a tatted up Black small businessman barely holding on to his restraint, Buddy Lee Jenkins and Ike Randolph are virtual strangers who should have become family when their boys fell in love. But bigotry and bad judgment are hard habits to break, so that happy union never happened. 
See the link for the full review.
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“A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance”

OMG! This amazing story stirred so many emotions, that I am still not sure which one floored me and brought me to my knees the most: The terrible sense of shame and injustice at the prejudice and racial inequality shown, not only by the two main protagonists, but by the vast majority of the small-minded rural community they inhabit: My hatred of the tone and content of the more than graphic language needed to get the point of the story across to a town of people quite happy to pretend they do not hear: My revulsion at the senseless acts of violence and killing needed to ‘out’ the real perpetrator, who caused so much grief and despair to protect their own status, career and position in society: Or the deep visceral outpouring of remorse and regret by two fathers, determined to see a wrong righted and a memory honoured, by whatever means at their disposal and regardless of the legality of their actions.

A true novel of our modern times, this is a well structured, deeply considered work of social commentary, which exposes the fractures and faults of the societal, cultural and behavioural mores of our alternative, multi-faceted lifestyles, only further compounded by an almost total lack of appetite shown by an apathetic police department, to pursue the case of a young gay, mixed race couple, pointlessly and brutally murdered, leaving a small child parentless.

It is very much the case that these two fathers, Ike and Buddy Lee, one black the other white, are architects of their own demise, in that both having been incarcerated and institutionalised over so many and such long periods of time during their lives, their means of meting out ‘justice’, is rarely pretty, sophisticated or well considered. They fly by the seat of their pants, as a general rule, on the premise that they need to “do unto others as they would do unto you” – but do it first and make it count, on the basis that the end will always justify the means – until now!

In many ways these two men are grieving for themselves, as much as for their dead, as when the young men were alive, both Ike and BL were strong deniers of their sons’ sexuality and racial bias. Relationships between the four men had been at their lowest ebb and strained to the limits. A few home truths, which surfaced following their deaths and at the time of their sparsely attended funerals, have altered, if not totally changed the fathers’ perspectives. So whilst they may never become firm friends, they decide to work together to uncover the truth behind the murders and bring down the perpetrators, or so they manage to convince themselves.

I was left pondering the true motive behind this sudden and unexpected call to action. Were Ike and BL genuinely seeking to avenge the death of their sons and heap revenge and retribution on the murderers? Did they need to assuage their own guilt regarding their attitude towards the love the two young men felt for one another when they were alive? Or was this just a convenient excuse to return to a way of life that both have tried to deny they still crave, but which they can now pursue with a renewed legitimacy, in the guise of their mission?

These two unlikely accomplices unleash a terrifying, knee-jerk chaos of such huge proportions, that it has grown a life of its own and now it can’t be stopped, even if they want it to be, as too many innocent lives are at stake and have indeed, already been sacrificed, as a result of their rash and ill considered actions. Ike says it is not for revenge but hate, as ‘revenge is just hate in a nicer suit’.

This multi-layered, intensely textured, gritty and darkly atmospheric storyline, has been conceived and written by an author with a uniquely unconventional, distinctive voice and intuitive style. Powerful and emotionally draining, it is told with total authority and complete confidence, by an assured and consummate exponent in the art of immersive storytelling. Whose skill in the imagery of words, with some excellent observational and descriptive narrative, together with some punchy and brutally honest dialogue, adds a real depth and range to this lugubrious storyline and offers a real sense of time and place.

Even that glimmer of hope and new beginnings, which begins to blossom when the dust has settled, is very fragile and will have to be carefully nurtured as it grows, although not everyone is going to be around to see it happen.

The characters are definitely very emotionally complex, and even though well defined and developed, I found them very difficult to connect with or become invested in, although they were so animated, that they became completely addictive and had me on the edge of my seat rooting for them, almost against my better judgement. The author has done an amazing job of giving the entire cast a strong believable voice, both collectively and individually, to direct and tell their story, with just a gentle guiding hand leading the way.

From the preface of the book, I note that Razorblade Tears has already been optioned for film. To say it would be a real travesty if either the original backers, or another major player in the movie industry, didn’t pick this one up and run with it, would not be too strong a reaction. The storyline is just begging for film script adaptation and a cast of major character actors to get to work on it, although there is nothing much about it I would fundamentally change, including that brilliant title!
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This is going to be short and sweet. My new favorite book and might just be my favorite book of 2021. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Go read it right now.
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Add one part 70s revenger thriller with two parts 80s buddy cop actioneer. Wet it all down with the in-your-face turmoil of the 2020s. Shake that bad boy all up to get Razorblade Tears, a drink saltier than a margarita on Cabo and more masculine than ice cold PBR on draft.

Razorblade Tears is more than a hard-boiled follow up to S.A. Cosby’s celebrated Blacktop Wasteland. This is Cosby’s declaration. A statement that the racial divide in America is as wide as ever and a plea for this gap to close before everyone is swallowed within. Cosby gets intimate in showing a hurt world through Black eyes while trying to understand what is possible through white. Screaming that life is rough. Believing love can be stronger than all colors. And he does it through the tears, the fists, the rage, and strong backs of Ike and Buddy Lee – stubborn ex-cons who share the bond of fatherhood.

Ike “Riot” Randolph. One-time Black God enforcer. Now married and a successful small-business owner. Buddy Lee Jenkins. A redneck slacker whose life has been divided by the gray of prison and the silver of his single-wide. When their sons are brutally murdered, Ike and Buddy Lee decide to make amends. You see, each son was loved. But each son was also rejected. 

You ready for the kicker? Cause here it comes. 

Ike’s son, Isiah? Buddy Lee’s Derek? They were married to each other. In doing so became the shame of their fathers. For Ike and Buddy Lee, theirs is a world where Black is black and White is white. Nothing else matters. Right? They don’t understand the pride of the modern world where love has no gender. What they do know is how to fight.

When the police investigation stalls, Ike and Buddy Lee decide to go all Southern Noir and they fight. 

They also learn as their quest of justice, or at least revenge, leads to truth. Truth that their love for their sons should not dictate who they slept with. Ike comes to understand there is a lot of gray between those tonal extremes. Buddy Lee realizes that Ike’s plight, a Black ex-con living in the South, comes with neon badges of danger that is as foreign to his white prejudiced upbringing as a that of a college education. And, naturally, they discover the real reason for the murder of their sons. 
Ike’s dialogue tends to get repetitive yet it is Cosby who evidently wants such sentiments accepted. Exaltations that Black Lives Matter are continuously voiced yet unless watered those airings will become as parched as the restless desert. Cosby plays gardener to those seeds and  masterfully wraps that thesis in gleaming chrome, ebony knuckles, and tears so sharp they’ll cut ya.

Cosby writes with a pulpy style relishing the contemporary while honoring the genre. The hard edges of Chandler and Cain are chased down with Lehane’s refinement while everything is smoothed over with some Mosley style. And any of the action that might have taken a backseat in Blacktop Wasteland is now behind the driver’s seat with the windshield shattered and the tachometer redder than Frank’s hot sauce. 

As with Bug Montage in Blacktop Wasteland, Ike and Buddy Lee strive to be better men. To make amends for the future. To settle up with their karma of the past. Cosby’s heart bleeds on the page and every drop deserves to be caught. For out of that blood comes change and something even fiercer – redemption.

Let’s hear it for Flatiron Books who sent me the free preview. And believe it, I will be purchasing additional copies for gifts.
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Razorblade Tears is a fast paced crime thriller. Ike and Buddy Lee are unlikely allies. Their married sons were murdered, and they take matters into their own hands to find out by who. Each carry regret that they alienated their sons for being gay. What happens as the story unfolds is how far two men will go to make things right.
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