S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is the novel everyone in the crime fiction community is talking about. You could put an image of this book’s cover next to the dictionary definition of buzz and be accurate, although some would say it might be an understatement. Whatever that elusive energy is that pushes a book into a niche audience’s zeitgeist, Blacktop Wasteland is soaked in it. Cosby is likely thrilled, but the real winners here are the readers – this novel is more than worthy of any attention it receives.
Blacktop Wasteland is the story of a Black man who wants nothing more than to escape from his history as a driver for criminal heists – he wants this for himself, but more importantly, he wants this for his family: a wife that adores him and two sons who deserve a legacy they can be proud of. However, fate and society keep putting up roadblocks all along his path.
That man – the ironically, and now iconically, named Beauregard Montage – has already put some distance between himself and his troubled past. Bug, as he has come to be known, has opened an auto mechanic shop in Shepherd’s Corner, Virginia. However, stiff competition and ever-increasing financial strain put pressure on Bug, so when an opportunity to do one last – fullproof – heist presents itself, he has little choice in the matter. Since everyone knows that nothing is infallible, this decision places Beauregard in even more stressful situations, each of which gets progressively more dangerous, constantly bringing Bug face-to-face with some bad, bad dudes.
The power in Blacktop Wasteland comes not just from the story itself, but from the way in which S. A. Cosby tells it. This is an author who writes with the precision of a poet and the heart of warrior. Cosby brandishes a deft turn of phrase: Some standard Southern idioms are given new meaning, while others are wholly-original catch phrases that could easily be adopted as classics.
Just pages into Blacktop Wasteland, the writing magic works its spell and readers are invariably invested in Bug and his personal journey. In many ways, his struggles make him an “everyman,” which can only help to promote the case for diversity in crime fiction. Readers need to hear these stories to reinforce the notion that we are all more alike than we are different. It is a universal theme to see a man trying to make his family proud, struggling to straddle two different worlds, trying to find a way for them to co-exist, and in the process screwing everything up. But it is the heart of Beauregard Montage that sticks with the reader – it is easy to champion him because his plight is so authentic and honest. There is a recurring motif that can be summed up by this profound quote: “We are who we were meant to be,” but the truth of this comes from knowing it is what is in our hearts that matters – not our station in life, the color of our skin, the mistakes made or the successes achieved. We must push back as society tries to dictate our path, while holding strong to our core humanity. Certainly easier said that done, but reading stories like Beauregard’s elicits empathy and that is the beginning of a worthwhile journey.
Pick up this hotly-anticipated novel so that you can be part of the conversation. Expect Blacktop Wasteland and S. A. Cosby to dominate “Best Of” and award short-lists well into 2021.
Buy Links: Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.