“Chopping up your first body is disgusting. Your second is tiresome. When you’re doing your fifteenth, it’s all muscle memory.”– S. A. Cosby, “Razorblade Tears”
The title of Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby refers to the way society teaches men that they can’t cry, or they’re weak. The act of mourning itself is painful not because of grief, but because of what it says about you as a man if you cry. It’s something society teaches its men regardless of race.
But both Ike and Buddy Lee have several causes for tears. Their sons are dead. Murdered. And the cops aren’t doing one single thing about it.
Ike’s son Isaiah and Buddy Lee’s son Derek were married and living as happy of a life as they could, given that neither of their fathers accepted them as gay. But one day professional killers take them both out and Ike finds himself raising their three year old daughter, Arianna, with his wife.
Both Ike and Buddy Lee were not good fathers. They’re not good men either. They were both locked up in prison for most of their sons’ teenage years. But when the cops won’t do much of anything to solve Isaiah and Derek’s murders, the fathers decide they can’t let their boys down again. They’ll solve this case the only way they know how: violently.
It took me far longer to finish this book than it should have. For some reason, I jut kept putting it down to read other books. I’m not even sure why I kept getting distracted. I enjoyed the book the entire time I was reading it. I fell in love with Buddy Lee’s easygoing, Southern charm and Ike’s simple way of explaining racial prejudice in a way that didn’t discount Buddy Lee’s growth. Perhaps I just wanted to prolong the ending because I was certain there was no way it could be happy. Plus, I didn’t exactly want to see these characters that I was beginning to fall in love with go “murder hobo” on some bikers or gang members or whoever they suspected of killing their sons.
Now, there is a fair bit of gore in this book. There’s a good deal of bloody fighting with and without weapons. But there’s also a beautiful exploration of what it means to love, to fight for those we love, and to be fully human to both ourselves and others. I’m definitely going to be following S. A. Cosby as an author and I’ve already added his other two books to my TBR (to be read list).
Plus, it definitely helped that I imagined Ike as Idris Elba and Buddy Lee as Sam Elliot.
“That was the thing about violence. When you went looking for it you definitely were going to find it. It just wouldn’t be at a time of your own choosing. It jumped up and splattered your nice new boots before you were really ready.”– S. A. Cosby, “Razorblade Tears”
- Buddy Lee’s imaginative Southern references and character voice
- Ike’s thoughts on his struggles with toxic masculinity
- action and suspense in equal measure
- excellent connections between characters
- relationships that feel realistic and not forced
- Narrative shifts can be a bit disjointed.
“Tears ran from his eyes and stung his cheeks. Tears for his son. Tears for his wife. Tears for the little girl they had to raise. Tears for who they were and what they all had lost. Each drop felt like it was slicing his face open like a razorblade.”– S. A. Cosby, “Razorblade Tears”
- Southerners looking for a relatable suspense novel full of down home references
- Anyone who’d like to imagine two dads who look like Idris Elba and Sam Elliot on a kick-ass but often comedic revenge spree
Books to Read if You Loved Razorblade Tears:
- Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby (same author!)
- The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
- Confessions by Kanae Minato
Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)
- What can we do when those tasked with justice won’t or can’t pursue it?
- What book have you considered giving up on that turned out to be an excellent read?