Wow, just wow. My review isn't going to do justice to S.A. Cosby's recently released Blacktop Wasteland - but just know it's an absolutely fantastic read.
Cosby opens Blacktop Wasteland with a night race on a road in rural Virginia. Bug's driving a Duster that his father left behind when he walked away. The description of time and place is so vivid - I could smell the gas, the rubber, hear the revving of engines, the squeal of tires and the buzz of the night. The settings are also characters in this book.
"Progress had left this part of town behind. A blacktop wasteland haunted by the phantoms of the past."
Beauregard "Bug" Montage is known as the best wheelman on the East Coast. Was. Bug's left the Life - he's gone straight - owns a garage, has a wife and a family. But his debts are mounting, despite his best efforts. He needs money.....and he knows one way to get it. He goes looking for a job - one that needs a wheelman - and he finds one.
There are so many layers to Cosby's story. First off the characters are wonderfully drawn. Bug is an intricate character, one the reader can't help be onside with. The supporting cast - good and bad - are just as well drawn. (I had a soft spot for cousin Kelvin) All of them jump off the page, with detailed lives.
And then there's' the heist. I must say, I can't get enough heist stories. This one is brilliantly imagined and planned. But there's always a snag somewhere. And again, Cosby's plotting is a standout. The danger, action and yes, unforseen twists and turns had me committing a crime. I couldn't help myself....I peeked ahead a few chapters. I know, I know, but the tension was unbearable! I truly couldn't put the book down.
But there's more to this story than just the heist. It's a study of a man whose life has been a struggle and his desire to have a better life for his family. Memories provide a look at Bug's early and formative years.
And that ending? Not what I wanted, but instead what is real. If I had to put a genre label on Blacktop Wasteland, it would be grit lit.
Blacktop Wasteland is one of my favorite reads for 2020. A pedal to the metal, non stop read. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Blacktop Wasteland.