Book #324 of 2021:
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
This is a heavy title, both for the graphic violence / gore and for the inherent bleakness of the premise: two grieving fathers, unaccepting of their sons’ sexuality in life, are drawn to one another in shared rage after the young husbands are brutally murdered and the police seem unable to solve the crime. Each man is also an ex-con, and together they embark on a mission of bloody vengeance, vowing to not let anything stand between them and the killer(s). Lots of shooting and torture and explosions follow as our antiheroes, one black and one white, search for answers and grapple with how their own bigotries have pushed their children away. I am totally unsurprised to learn that the film rights have already been bought up.
It’s not a particularly surprising narrative for fans of the pulp crime genre; I think there are exactly two big twists, both of which I called correctly as soon as their corresponding questions (who desecrated the boys’ tombstones and who Tangerine is dating) were raised. But the story is well-told in an almost Elmore Leonard fashion, and it’s interesting to see such flawed characters at the heart of a work coming to recognize and address those flaws. I like how capable the protagonists prove as well, especially in a world that keeps underestimating them due to their age. I may have winced a bit while reading this, but I’d say it succeeds at its goals.
[Content warning for racism including slurs, homophobia including slurs, transphobia, and child endangerment.]
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