Violence and love go hand in hand in this tale of two rough men seeking vengeance for their murdered sons.

RAZORBLADE TEARS

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.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25270-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A SLOW FIRE BURNING

A young man has been stabbed to death on a houseboat...that much is clear.

Hawkins' third novel, after her smash debut with The Girl on the Train (2015) and a weak follow-up with Into the Water (2017), gets off to a confusing start. A series of vignettes introduce numerous characters—Irene, Deidre, Laura, Miriam, Daniel (dead), Carla, Theo, Angela (dead)—all of whom live or lived in a very small geographical area and have overlapping connections and reasons to be furious at each other. We can all agree that the main question is who killed Daniel, the 23-year-old on the houseboat, but it is soon revealed that his estranged mother had died just a few weeks earlier—a drunk who probably fell, but maybe was pushed, down the stairs—and his cousin also fell to his death some years back. Untimely demise runs in the family. The highlight of these goings-on is Laura, a tiny but ferocious young woman who was seen running from Daniel's boat with blood on her mouth and clothes the last night he was alive. Physically and mentally disabled by an accident in her childhood, Laura is so used to being accused and wronged (and actually she is quite the sticky fingers) that she's not surprised when she's hauled in for Daniel's murder, though she's pretty sure she didn't do it. The secondary crimes and subplots include abduction, sexual assault, hit-and-run, petty larceny, plagiarism, bar brawling, breaking and entering, incest, and criminal negligence, and on top of all this there's a novel within a novel that mirrors events recalled in flashback by one of the characters. When Irene reads it, she's infuriated by "all the to-ing and fro-ing, all that jumping around in the timeline....Just start at the beginning, for god's sake. Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" Hmmmmm.

Overkill.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1123-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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