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Razor Blade Tears by S A Cosby - Review

Friday, March 22, 2024

This book was given to me in a swap that I joined in with at Christmas. I said I liked crime novels and was sent this. It wasn't the type of thing that I would normally pick up but I was intrigued by it, so I was pleased to receive it. I recently realised that I need to read all my Christmas books before the year gets away from me entirely, so I picked this up. In all I did like reading it, but I didn't love it, so I wouldn't bother picking up something else by the same author. 

For a start it's really gruesome! I'm not particularly squeamish but I found this quite hard to read at points. There's a lot of gore, so I would consider that a warning if it's something you don't like. I won't be passing this on to my mum because she would find it too gruesome I'm sure! I also found it really hard to read the slurs that are used in the book - they do all fit in context and I understood why characters said them, but it's still hard to read. The N word is used a number of times, and so is f***ot for gay people. Neither of these are terms that I would use so I find them hard to read. But I'll get on to their context... 

Secondly, I felt that the book needed a better edit. There's something peculiar to American writers where the paragraphs just don't have the correct grammar and it makes it hard to work out who's speaking at times. This means that I had to read some pages twice in order to get a grip on to who said what. I wish these authors would just use more paragraphs! And understand that is Person A is doing something in one paragraph, that paragraph really belongs to them and their actions and reactions. And then Person B needs a whole new paragraph for what they're doing. Don't tack on what Person B is doing at the end of that paragraph because it's confusing! 

Thirdly, it's just a really dense book. Things keep happening and they just don't stop happening. I really wish we had had a little bit more downtime, but I understand that's the nature of the book. So it's fine. It fits with the genre. It just made it really hard to read. It took me nearly a week to read which was just too long in my book. 

Criticisms over, here's what the book is about:

Ike is a Black man living in Virginia with his wife Mya when their son and his husband are killed, leaving behind their little girl, Arianna. Mya takes custody, therefore, and they both have to live without their son. Ike feels guilty because he didn't treat his son at all well. So when his son's father in law comes knocking, trying to get Ike to find out who killed their sons, Ike is riled up. But he says no - he's going straight now, he's a law abiding citizen - until the boys' graves are desecrated. Then, it's on. 

So yeah, Ike and Mya had a son, Isiah. When Isiah was young, Ike went to prison for manslaughter. I think he served about a decade, maybe a bit less. He was running with a gang beforehand, and in prison too. He leaves prison with gang tattoos on his hands. His gang name was 'Riot', which he has tattooed, but he's not that person anymore. He has gone straight by setting up a lawncare/gardening business, and employs a bunch of people under him. Mya is a nurse. Ike missed out on a bunch of milestones in Isiah's life. Isiah went to college and there he met Derek and came out. When Ike learnt of this, he flipped out and has never accepted his gay son. He refused to go to their wedding, and he's had very little to do with their daughter, Arianna. But when Isiah is killed, Ike realises the error of his ways and realises that he can never undo what he did. But maybe he can make amends? 

Derek, meanwhile, doesn't have much family at all. His mother and her new husband are conservative Christians who don't need a gay son married to a Black man to stop their political careers. His dad, Buddy Lee, is an alcoholic who has also served time and who is just a bit of a loser. Buddy Lee also didn't accept Derek and Isiah - he is a white redneck type who is quite racist and homophobic. But he desperately wants to find out who killed his son and Derek's husband, and the police seem to have let the trail go cold. 

So the two men head off together to try to find stuff out. They come across a white supremacist biker gang who have ties to local gangsters. They visit where Isiah worked - a queer newspaper - where they get an unhappy welcome. They visit the bakery where Derek worked and get some information. And they are visited, too. They go to a gay bar which doesn't end well. They know who they're looking for, but where is she? And how is she involved?

I did guess a couple of the red herrings but I get why Ike and Buddy Lee didn't because they're both kind of idiots. It's interesting actually because they're both really quite terrible people, and yet I still wanted them to succeed and I didn't really care what they did to achieve their aims. They were in the moral right. And they both did learn lessons about themselves, about each other, and about their sons and the world by the end. I also really liked the end - it was like an action film where everything just keeps crashing and burning and the bad guys just won't die. 

In all I'm giving this four out of five, with the above caveats. 

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