Reviews for Razorblade tears

Publishers Weekly
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In this strong crime novel from Thriller Award finalist Cosby (Blacktop Wasteland), the double murder of married couple Isiah Randolph and Derek Jenkins, shot dead outside “a fancy wine store” in Richmond, Va., drives African American Ike Randolph and self-proclaimed redneck Buddy Lee Jenkins, both hardened ex-cons, to track down their sons’ killers. For the fathers, it’s not just simple vengeance but a matter of redemption for having rejected their sons because they were gay. Ike and Buddy Lee soon realize that the double killing was not merely a hate crime but tied to their sons’ search for an elusive girl known only as Tangerine. Looking for Tangerine leads the pair to a Nazi biker gang, and when Ike and Buddy Lee refuse to back off after a violent encounter, things escalate: Ike’s home is destroyed, his wife seriously injured, and their granddaughter abducted. The relentless pace and at times brutal action stand out, but more memorable are the richly developed characters of Ike and Buddy Lee. Along the way, the book provides a nuanced take on contemporary race and LGBTQ issues of a type not commonly found in crime fiction. Chalk up another winner to Cosby. Agent: Josh Getzler, HG Literary. (July)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Cosby follows up his smash debut Blacktop Wasteland (2020) with a powerful blend of pulsing action, sensitive and subtle character interaction, and uncompromising but highly nuanced reflection on racism and homophobia. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins, both ex-cons, have little else in common. Ike is a Black man who has built his own landscaping business since leaving jail; Buddy Lee is an alcoholic redneck and casual racist who lives in a ramshackle trailer. What brings them together is the brutal murder of their sons, who were married to one another. Neither Ike nor Buddy Lee could overcome their ingrained homophobia while their sons were alive, but now they want revenge and come together to find the killers. As these two self-acknowledged "bad men" reacquaint themselves with their instincts for perpetrating extreme violence, they also begin to learn about their own prejudices. "Being who you are shouldn't be a goddamn death sentence," Ike says, even as he hopes to carry out that very sentence against the men who killed his son. Yes, it's a contradiction, but Cosby's tale generates its authority from confronting moral ambiguity head-on. Buddy Lee says it best: "For once I'm gonna put this devil inside me to good use." Few novels marry tough and tender, head-banging and coming-of-age, as seamlessly as this one does, but that's no surprise from a supremely talented writer who keeps getting better.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Cosby follows up his smash debut Blacktop Wasteland (2020) with a powerful blend of pulsing action, sensitive and subtle character interaction, and uncompromising but highly nuanced reflection on racism and homophobia. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins, both ex-cons, have little else in common. Ike is a Black man who has built his own landscaping business since leaving jail; Buddy Lee is an alcoholic redneck and casual racist who lives in a ramshackle trailer. What brings them together is the brutal murder of their sons, who were married to one another. Neither Ike nor Buddy Lee could overcome their ingrained homophobia while their sons were alive, but now they want revenge and come together to find the killers. As these two self-acknowledged "bad men" reacquaint themselves with their instincts for perpetrating extreme violence, they also begin to learn about their own prejudices. "Being who you are shouldn't be a goddamn death sentence," Ike says, even as he hopes to carry out that very sentence against the men who killed his son. Yes, it's a contradiction, but Cosby's tale generates its authority from confronting moral ambiguity head-on. Buddy Lee says it best: "For once I'm gonna put this devil inside me to good use." Few novels marry tough and tender, head-banging and coming-of-age, as seamlessly as this one does, but that's no surprise from a supremely talented writer who keeps getting better.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In this follow-up to Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Notable Book, Ike Randolph learns that his son Isiah and Isiah's white husband, Derek, have been murdered. A Black man ashamed of his gay son, who was ashamed of his criminal father, Ike joins forces with Derek's father—also an ex-con—to find their sons' killers. With a 50,000-copy first printing.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A lean, mean crime story about two bereaved fathers getting their hands bloody. Coming from the right author, genre fiction has a rare capacity to touch on any number of big ideas: love, death, hatred, violence, freedom, bondage, and redemption, to name just a few. Cosby's latest fits the bill. Fast on its feet, by turns lethal and tender, the story takes place in small-town Virginia, though it could be the backwoods of a great many places. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins, both ex-cons haunted by their pasts, wouldn’t ordinarily mix, largely because Ike is Black and Buddy Lee is White and a casual racist. But the two men are tragically linked. Their sons were married to each other, and they were murdered together, shot in their faces outside a fancy Richmond wine store on their anniversary. The dads are both homophobes, but they also love their sons, so when the police investigation quickly stalls, Ike and Buddy Lee decide to crack a few skulls on their own. Cosby gives us both the charge of once-bad men getting back in touch with their wild sides and the sad reluctance of relatively straight-and-narrow lives turning to vengeance. These old-timers have done bad, bad things, and they’ve done the time to prove it. Now they’re ready to do those things again in the name of a thorny father-son love that neither man is quite comfortable with. Here’s Buddy Lee after a long, hard night with his new friend: “Chopping up your first body is disgusting. Your second is tiresome. When you’re doing your fifteenth it’s all muscle memory.” This is a bloody good yarn with two compelling antiheroes you’ll root for from the start, and not only because their enemies, or at least some of them, belong to a White nationalist biker club with murderous ways of its own. Lean and mean, this is crime fiction with a chip on its shoulder. Violence and love go hand in hand in this tale of two rough men seeking vengeance for their murdered sons. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

On the surface, the only thing Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins have in common is that they're both ex-cons. Ike, who's Black, has changed his life since leaving prison and now owns a successful landscaping business. Buddy Lee, who's white, is still a good ol' boy who drinks heavily and runs around. When Ike's and Buddy's sons married each other, both fathers rejected them. That was before someone shot Isiah and Derek dead in Richmond, VA, in what appeared to be a targeted attack. When Isiah and Derek's tombstone is vandalized, Ike wants revenge. He teams up with Buddy Lee, and they plan to have one violent confrontation with the murderer. Instead, the fathers learn that someone with powerful connections is behind the murders. Over the course of their violent spree, Ike and Buddy are forced to uncover their own feelings of grief, pain, and failure when it came to their relationships with their sons. VERDICT Cosby follows his award-nominated Blacktop Wasteland (an LJ Best Mystery selection for 2020) with another stand-alone mystery that's already been optioned for a film. His story of fathers and sons, of men learning to respect others' lives, has an unexpected depth for such a violent, confrontational book. This powerful book should be in every library.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

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