Reviews of Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears

by S. A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby X
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2021, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2022, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek's father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change - and maybe even redemption.

ONE

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.

The two men stood side by side on the small concrete landing of his front step with their hands on their belts near their badges and their guns. The morning sun made the badges glimmer like gold nuggets. The two cops were a study in contrast. One was a tall but wiry Asian man. He was all sharp angles and hard edges. The other, a florid-faced white man, was built like a powerlifter with a massive head sitting atop a wide neck. They both wore white dress shirts with clip-on ties. The powerlifter had sweat stains spreading down from his armpits that vaguely resembled maps of England and Ireland respectively.

Ike's queasy stomach began to do somersaults. He was fifteen years removed from Coldwater State Penitentiary. He had bucked the recidivism statistics ever since he'd walked out of that festering wound....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. In chapter four, Ike retreats to his shed, ostensibly to use his heavy bag, but it's here he finally allows himself to cry. How much of Ike's intense grief do you think is based on the loss of his son and how much do you think is based on his guilt at his own intolerance in regards to Isiah's homosexuality?
  2. The vandalism of their sons' gravestone provides the catalyst for Ike and Buddy Lee to begin their investigation. What do you think the destruction of the gravestone symbolizes for both Ike and Buddy Lee, and how does the way each of them sees this action determine their decisions going forward?
  3. Buddy Lee and Ike are both ex-cons and are both fathers of gay sons who didn't have a positive relationship with their children. As ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cosby leans away from a simple redemption arc, instead showing the emotional silence that follows Ike and Buddy Lee's chaotic behavior. In this space, the reader can feel their grief as well as the stark consequences of their choices. They thrive on conflict, and part of what makes losing their sons so hard is that they can no longer deal with their own uneasiness by antagonizing Isiah and Derek. They are left alone with their residual bigotry, which is no longer their sons' problem. Even as they support each other and attempt to right at least one wrong, they are aware that it will not make up for the past, and this lends a distinct sense of gravity to the book's events despite Cosby's entertaining writing...continued

Full Review Members Only (708 words).

(Reviewed by Elisabeth Cook).

Media Reviews

BookPage (starred review)
Simultaneously a contemplative mystery and a stunning thrill ride. A master of his craft, Cosby balances incredibly complicated characters with enveloping suspense and some of the most captivatingly violent scenes that you will ever read…Cosby's writing is both fearless and sympathetic, exhibiting his formidable intellect alongside vivid imagery, sharp wit and intricate plot lines. Razorblade Tears transcends genre boundaries and is a must-read for anyone looking for a mystery that provokes and thrills in equal measure.

CrimeReads
S.A. Cosby blew us away with last year's searing heist thriller/rural noir Blacktop Wasteland, and with Razorblade Tears he's done it again. In a heartbreaking tale of love, murder, vengeance, and acceptance, two ex-cons, one Black and one white, team up to find those responsible for the death of their sons, who were married to each other…Shattering and beautiful, this is a must-read for genre and literary fiction fans alike.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A tour de force – poignant, action-packed, and profound.

New York Times
Cosby writes in a spirit of generous abundance and gleeful abandon and, unlike a lot of noir writers, he doesn't shy from operatic emotion...[he] is fearless in concocting colorful similes in the grand tradition of go-for-baroque pulp...More important, the book moves. It thrums. Razorblade Tears practically taunts you every time you try to put it down.

Washington Post
Elmore Leonard, wherever you are, you've got competition. With his third novel...S.A. Cosby has reappeared as one of the most muscular, distinctive, grab-you-by-both-ears voices in American crime fiction...Cosby is plainly nuts about the American language, and the novel absolutely sings with it.

Booklist (starred review)
A powerful blend of pulsing action, sensitive and subtle character interaction, and uncompromising but highly nuanced reflection on racism and homophobia…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.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This is a bloody good yarn with two compelling antiheroes you'll root for from the start...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.

Library Journal (starred review)
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.

Publishers Weekly
The relentless pace and at times brutal action stand out, but more memorable are the richly developed characters of Ike and Buddy Lee...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.

Author Blurb Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Razorblade Tears is superb. No doubt, S. A. Cosby is not only the future of crime fiction but of any fiction where the words are strong, the characters are strong and the story has a resonance that cuts right to the heart of the most important questions of our times.

Author Blurb P. J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus
S. A. Cosby is a once-in-a-generation storyteller — and he's only getting started. In Razorblade Tears, Cosby delivers a jaw-dropping thriller of vengeance, cruelty, and heart. His iconic voice, cinematic prose, and brilliant plotting will have you hearing an 80-piece orchestra at full crescendo as you race towards an ending so explosive, you'll literally duck for cover. This book is far more than a work of art; it's the gold standard.

Reader Reviews

Daryl Pauley

Razorblade Tears
Authentic people, sometimes relatable. The main characters carry the tale. The pathos of the story hit home with me because of my own alienation from some of my children. Parents can be taught a few things while reading this book. Their children ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

LGBTQ+ History and Community in Richmond, Virginia

Crowd of people standing around a rainbow LOVE sign at Virginia PridefestIn S.A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins attempt to solve the murder of their sons, Isiah and Derek, by sorting through the married couple's former lives in Richmond, Virginia. As they speak to Isiah and Derek's friends and acquaintances, they put together a better picture of who their sons were, and of the struggles and community that made up their reality as queer men. A bartender, Tex, explains to Ike and Buddy Lee, "Richmond's a pretty good place to live if you're gay or queer or whatever, but ... we still in the South. Unless you straight and white you gotta watch your back." Tex's statement arguably doesn't only apply to the Southern United States, but his larger point rings true: Richmond, like many ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Razorblade Tears, try these:

  • Heaven, My Home jacket

    Heaven, My Home

    by Attica Locke

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More by this author

    The thrilling follow-up to the award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird: Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is on the hunt for a boy who's gone missing - but it's the boy's family of white supremacists who are his real target.

  • Your House Will Pay jacket

    Your House Will Pay

    by Steph Cha

    Published 2020

    About this book

    In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it's been since the unrest of the early 1990s.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...
  • Book Jacket: Moth
    Moth
    by Melody Razak
    On August 15, 1947, India gained independence from the United Kingdom, and on that same day the ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.