CN: violence against LGBTQIA+ folk
Confession time: It’s been kind of a disappointing year for me in terms of reading fiction. There’s little that moves me anymore; everything feels so rote. That has little to do with contemporary writers, who are constantly twisting their genres, and more with just a continued familiarity with the tropes. Crime writing that used to entertain me when it reached the level of competent now barely moves the needle.
And then, there’s S.A. Crosby.
I enjoyed Blacktop Wasteland when it came out last year. It was crime writing with the right kind of edge, the kind that reflects on the reader without feeling cheap. The characters, the circumstances, the atmosphere all felt real. Crosby writes great dialogue and his prose is crisp.
So I had high expectations for Razorblade Tears.
But I didn’t think it would be this good. Probably the best crime fiction I’ve read this year. I mean…damn.
It’s a premise that’s kind of shaky: two guys, one Black, one white, act like homophobic tools to their respective sons, who are married to each other. When the sons are murdered, the two dads have to band together to enact bloody revenge. Along the way, they learn about themselves and human sexuality.
I’m not sure how many of those tales we need in the Year of our Lord 2021. But Crosby makes it come to life. The characters feel lived in, their growth feels earned, the tension comes through every page. And the last few pages hit some hard emotional beats.
Crosby can lean too hard on exposition at times and there are those who may not feel like the premise does LGBTQIA+ folk justice. Your mileage may vary on that one. But it worked for me and it ripped. Crosby’s books are now appointment reading.