“A mistake is a lesson, unless you make the same mistake twice.”
Beauregard Montage (nicknamed ‘Bug’) is a black man in his late thirties who is feeling the squeeze of financial commitments. His business is behind in its rent and the garage is losing business to a competitor. His boys need —and his daughter needs college tuition money. His mother is about to be turfed out of her nursing home due to lack of payment. He is getting final notice demands on his credit card bills. Desperate, he once again returns to the world of crime. A dangerous world where the payday is lucrative, but the risks are deadly.
Bug is the best driver on the eastern seaboard. He agrees to drive for a heist from a jewelry store. A decision he will come to bitterly regret… and one that will irrevocably change his world.
If I had to give this novel a label, it would be Southern Rural Noir. Fast-paced, gritty crime fiction featuring very real characters. I didn’t expect to love it quite as much as I did. After all, I’m a white grandmother from Canada who has little basis to ‘relate’ to Beauregard Montage. Set during a sweltering Virginia summer, the oppressive heat seemed palpable.
Kudos to S.A. Cosby who created a criminal protagonist – a man whose actions were often deadly and cunning – but is also a likeable, empathetic, moral, good man. A good man whose family history, fate, and circumstance conspire against him at every turn.
A loving husband and father, Beauregard was brought up in dire poverty with only a criminal father as a role model. Despite his upbringing, his intelligence, his eidetic memory, and his strong moral code ensured that he was truly a character who the reader is rooting for throughout the narrative despite his criminal proclivity.
In addition to being a ‘heist’ crime novel, “Blacktop Wasteland” examines the situation that people who are living in poverty experience. Particularly black Americans. The rural south, where poverty breeds desperation and racial profiling is a grim reality. Where folks think a double-wide mobile home is the epitome of what life will provide them. A place where poverty and sometimes avarice guide the actions of its inhabitants. The characters that people this novel want more choices that will get them out from the low expectations of others. They want a better life for themselves and those they love.
Potential readers should be warned that this novel contains quite a bit of graphic violence within its very fast-paced story. I was fully immersed in the book throughout. The ending was realistic – as in life, you’ll find no ‘happy ever afters’ here.
Wow! What a great movie this story would make! Highly recommended!
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Flatiron Books (an imprint of Macmillan U.S.) via publicist Claire McLaughlin who invited me to join this blog tour.
Publication date: July 14, 2020 Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250252685 ASIN: B07WCYQZ4Y 304 pages
Shawn A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern
Virginia, now residing in Gloucester, Virginia. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His short story “The Grass Beneath
My Feet” won the Anthony award for best short story in 2019. He is also the author of My Darkest Prayer and Brotherhood of the Blade. His writing is influenced by his experience as a bouncer, construction worker, retail
manager and for six hours a mascot for a major fast food chain inside the world’s hottest costume. When he isn’t crafting tales of murder and mayhem he assists the dedicated staff at J.K. Redmond Funeral home as a mortician’s assistant. He is an avid hiker and is also known as one hell of a chess player.
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