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Blacktop Wasteland

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A husband, a father, a son, a business owner…And the best getaway driver east of the Mississippi.

“Sensationally good—new, fresh, real, authentic, twisty, with characters and dilemmas that will break your heart. More than recommended.” —Lee Child

Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.

He thought he'd left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can't-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver's seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.

Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland...or die trying.

Like Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.

304 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 14, 2020

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S.A. Cosby

41 books3,428 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,570 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,134 reviews39.3k followers
November 13, 2021
Fascinating, invigorating, raw, harsh, adrenaline pumping, one of the greatest reads of the year highly recommended to the lovers of tasty crime novels and noir genre.

Nope, I cannot give anything less than five gazillion stars because from the first pages, breathtaking, action packed, truly dramatic Beauregard Montage’s story enhances you. You feel the several harsh slaps of reality against cheek throughout your reading journey.

Beauregard a.k.a. Bug loses the fight with his inner demons, hearing whispers to his father who introduced him to the criminal life when he was younger boy. He wanted to be a good husband, a good father who is capable to provide his own children’s needs. He wants to keep the roof over their heads and conduct a successful business but he fails: he is behind the mortgage payment of his car shop and he gets a call from his mother’s nursing home inform him they’re so close to kick his mother out.

It’s simple and clear: He cannot make his ends meet. He needs to find ANOTHER SOURCE TO GET OUT OF HIS GROWING DEPTH PROBLEM ASAP!

He hears the sound of screaming tires, smelling the dust of asphalt, shivering with adrenaline pumping. He is not Dominic Toretto! Nope, he’s incarcerated Steve McQueen. The passion of racing is in his blood, soul. It helps him to stay alive. He cannot deny the dark side’s calling: he enjoys the speed, adrenaline rush, facing the danger like a sea breeze brushing his cheeks.

He is still a good man who is dealt a very bad hand. So he needs to cheat for winning this game. He has too at stake so one more driving job won’t make things worse, right?
But as you may imagine, things can get more complicated than he expected!

I’m not giving more spoilers. You just have to learn what’s gonna happen next by yourself but I’m so sure for one thing: as soon as you get this book into your hands, you will be captivated by the high skilled, mesmerizing writing and well-developed characters, getting lost in dark, intense, realistic crime world. It was more effective than watching an action packed, exciting thriller. There is no cliche, no pretense, no exaggeration. Everything is so real, shocking, soul crushing.

I cannot thank enough to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for sharing this fantastic Arc with me in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
February 10, 2021
looking for great books to read during black history month...and the other eleven months? i'm going to float some of my favorites throughout the month, and i hope they will find new readers!

if you like this book, or sympathetic antiheroes in general, come see this booklist thing i wrote for f(r)iction

A mistake is a lesson, unless you make the same mistake twice.

ugh, i loved this book. i thought it was a debut, but apparently cosby wrote My Darkest Prayer a few years back and it slipped right past me. so, MY mistake, lesson learned, and i will be grabbing a copy of that ASAP to make things right.

this one is crime fiction in the grit lit/country noir tradition, about beauregard montage—that’s BEAUREGARD MONTAGE, PEOPLE—the flawed but decent son of a wheelman whose own skills behind the wheel once made him a valuable asset to criminals in need of a speedy getaway. apart from his formidable driving skills, his reliability, discretion, and willingness to get his hands dirty earned him an excellent professional reputation and enough money to open his own auto shop and go straight, determined to leave that dangerous life—and his father's legacy—behind.

"bug" devotes himself to becoming everything his father wasn't—an attentive husband, a responsible parent, and a respectable small business-owner. although he struggles to make ends meet, due in part to a competing garage offering lower prices and whiter mechanics, he is able to ensure his family's safety and be a present, positive role model to his sons. however, when his financial situation abruptly worsens and his terminally-ill mother is about to be evicted from her nursing home, he allows himself to be coaxed into taking on ONE LAST JOB!

and you know how that goes.

the first chapter is perfect—it's self-contained enough to be a short story, and it lays out everything you need to know about bug montage: his mind, his skills, his temperament, his achilles heel, while also establishing the motifs of cars and cons and pride and payback that’ll drive (no puns, please!) the rest of the book.

and it’s so gooooood!

cosby's writing plants him on the literary side of the genre, with a good balance between character development and action. there is excellent heist and con and double-cross criminal mastermindery stuff here—it’s tight and twisty and surprised me more than a couple of times, but i am a reader more drawn to character work, so for me it was all about bug’s story—the layers of what shaped him into who and what he was, his values, regrets, self-reckonings etc. it's a very classic noir-structure, but the details make it feel very fresh, and that little jab where a good deed done sours into the worst kind of regret, ahhhhhh delicious.

the writing is vivid and dynamic, and it does occasionally strain a little too hard under its own descriptive weight, The bitter taste soon gave way to a languid turgidity that moved through her body with a stealthy determination &etc, but that's a minor complaint to the flipside of a major compliment—that it hooked me through parts that i ordinarily would have glossed over. because this book is much more…vehicular than anything i’ve read before—all drag racing and car chases and engine modification etc, which should have made me disengage, but didn’t. i have zero interest in cars in life or as entertainment—i’ve never had a driver’s license, and i’ve never been able to follow car chase sequences in movies, whether they are the "emo boys drive fast" ones (drive, baby driver) or the “tough boys drive fast” ones (the rest). i usually just zone out until the confusing parts are over and use the bodily and property damage as context clues to figure out who won. so you would think that reading a car chase sequence would be even duller to me AND YET—i both followed along and was genuinely invested. there are several cars-going-zoom situations, but one in particular felt very harrowing, and for the first time ever, it was fun to me.

and if we're dream-casting this movie, i am nominating mike colter in lemond bishop mode (which is as crackerjack a character name as beauregard montage), although he’d probably have to lose some of those luke cage muscles for this. i have been using some of my sheltering in place time to rewatch the good wife/fight, and am smitten anew with his simmering facial expressions and how easygoing and affable he is—the very picture of businessman respectability until you fuck with his money or his family, and then oh, the danger under that smile...he's got my vote.

Beauregard knew there was no honor among thieves. Boys in the game only respected you in direct proportion to how much they needed you divided by how much they feared you. There was no doubt they needed his skill.

And if they weren't a little bit afraid of him then that was their mistake.

do not underestimate beauregard montage. or s.a. cosby. this one's a winner.

this is an excerpt from the little author-letter slipped into the book and it's perfect.

I believe in toxic masculinity and the harmful patriarchal hegemony that it engenders. But I also believe in tragic masculinity. A self-flagellating mindset that diminishes men by inches even as we believe it is protecting us. Tragic masculinity injures us on the inside and leaves behind scars that are felt, not seen. Blacktop Wasteland is about the hereditary disease that is poverty, but it's also about the violent inheritance that damaged men pass on to their sons. Not just physical violence but the emotional punishment that we inflict on ourselves.

It's also got a badass cherry 1971 Plymouth Duster in it. And cousin that motherfucking dog can hunt.



come to my blog!
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
781 reviews12.2k followers
July 1, 2020

“They all underestimated him.”

Blacktop Wasteland is an emotionally charged thriller/character study about a man willing to commit one last crime to save his family and livelihood. His decision might cost all he has worked so hard to achieve: his family, his business, and his identity.

Beauregard “Bug” Montage, mechanic and former criminal, went straight 15 years ago. Bug possesses exceptional driving skills that made him the perfect getaway driver who could not be caught. Having put his last “job” behind him, Bug is struggling to keep his family and business afloat. When the opportunity arises for him to take on one final job, he accepts to help his family. His decision causes him to visit the past and grapple with his identity, ultimately putting him at risk to lose what matters most.

Blacktop Wasteland is a fast-paced, action-packed, superbly written novel. This book is so much more than a thriller. It’s about father-son relationships, family, race, class, and identity. In Bug, S.A. Cosby has created a dynamic and complex character who is not to be underestimated. I felt every one of Bug’s emotions, his conflict, his identity crisis, and his pain over his father’s abandonment. This book gutted me emotionally and put me through the wringer. I don’t think my heart could have taken much more. The final page left me feeling destroyed.

This is a book that goes outside the box. I highly recommend!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 116 books156k followers
July 24, 2020
Too expository but the action is exhilarating. It’s like Fast and Furious but literary.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,965 reviews2,415 followers
June 1, 2020
Wow. Wow. Wow. Five big stars!
Absolutely nothing is going right in Beauregard “Bug” Montage’s life. The loan on his business is past due, his kid needs braces and he’s just been hit with a bill for his mother’s nursing home care. So, he goes back to what he did in a prior life- criminal planner and getaway driver.
This book is sad and gritty, all at the same time. Cosby has created some great characters here, starting with Bug. He’s a decent man who's been handed a raw deal. You just want things to work out for him. His mother is a total piece of work and it’s a testament to his decency that he doesn’t just walk away from her. And my God, Bug’s co-criminals are not going to win any awards for smarts or ethics. You just know that things aren’t going to go well.
The writing is fabulous. Take this phrase “he...had a hairline that was retreating like Lee at Gettysburg.” I was highlighting phrases, just so I could go back and review how crazy good the writing was.
This will appeal to those that like Lou Berney’s or Attica Locke’s writing. Very atmospheric, taking the time to set the stage before moving into a higher gear. Once things get rolling, the dominoes fall in rapid succession. I just did not see so much of this book coming. It was not only action packed, it was heartbreaking. I could see this book being easily transformed into a movie.
My thanks to netgalley and Flatiron Books for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,037 reviews3,556 followers
June 19, 2020
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five fabulous action packed stars!

Buckle in for an edge of your seat crime thriller that will leave you breathless.

Beauregard, also known as Bug, is a man locked in a personal battle between two conflicting identities. A man emotionally split down the middle between his past and future. Ultimately, those two worlds are destined to collide.

Bug is the best getaway driver this side of the ole’ Mississippi! Actually, probably safe to say both sides of the line! Bug is a major risk taker and thrill seeker. One that not surprisingly, doesn’t always play by the rules, or the law for that matter.

On the other side of the coin, Beauregard is a devoted family man still deeply in love with his wife and wants only the best futures for his children. Here’s where things get, well…complicated. Beauregard feels confident he’s left Bug in the past until he finds himself in a pinch only Bug can get him out of.

S.A. Cosby writes a superbly executed, gripping and emotionally-charged crime thriller. Make necessary arrangements, because once you start you won’t be able to set this one aside. It’s dark, it’s gritty and without question one of the best books I’ve read this year!

The author did such a fabulous job of painting a picture of Beauregard. Capturing his loyalties and struggles leading me to feel as though I knew him personally.
This book would make an excellent action movie! Have the movie rights been picked up for this book💁🏻‍♀️ Hollywood what are you waiting for!? 🎥

Thank you to Flatiron Books Via NetGalley for an ARC to read and review.

Publication date: July 14th 2020
Profile Image for Debra .
2,201 reviews34.9k followers
July 20, 2020
Man oh Man oh Beauregard......

"Listen, when you're a black man in America you live with the weight of people's low expectations on your back every day. They can crush you right down to the goddamn ground. Think about it like it's a race. Everybody else has a head start and you dragging those low expectations behind you. Choices give you freedom from those expectations. Allows you to cut 'em loose. Because that's what freedom is. Being able to let things go. And nothing is more important than freedom."

There's Bug and then there's Beauregard, the same man with conflicting sides within himself. One part is the loving devoted husband and father, the other is a fast car driving outlaw.

Bug thought he left his past behind, he thought he could move on and run his business and be there for his family, but he couldn't leave the ghost of who he used to be and the memory of his father who disappeared when he needed him the most.

With mounting bills and stress, Bug cannot walk away when he is presented with the opportunity to make some money. All he must do is drive the getaway car. Bug is drowning in bills, stress and obligations and it seems like easy money, but is it?

S.A. Cosby put the pedal to the metal with this one. Blacktop Wasteland is raw, gritty, dark and action packed. It's a character study of one man's last-ditch effort to make a better life for his family but at what cost? It is beautifully written in vivid, raw and descriptive prose.

Thought provoking, gripping and raw. This book is not to be missed.

Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
526 reviews57.7k followers
December 23, 2022
This unfortunately didn't have all the things I loved so much in Razorblade Tears.

I didn't find myself emotionally attached to the characters, we didn't have the interesting discussions about homophobia/racism that were so well handled in the other book nor a satisfying ending. Of course the author can't rewrite the same story but without these elements, I just felt like we were left with a very violent book with no payoff. (That's on me. I don't mind it in sci-fi/fantasy books but it's not my thing in contemporary settings.)

Overall still an interesting plot, just not my jam.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,546 reviews24.6k followers
December 22, 2021
Having read SA Cosby's Razorblade Tears, I knew I had to read this story set in Red Hill County in Virginia, of family, fathers and sons, race, and a dazzlingly talented wheelman. Beauregard 'Bug' Montage once used to be the go to wheelman, but he turned his back on that thrillingly addictive life of risk and crime, although he is not a man to take chances, just in case trouble comes he has guns in every room of his home. For some years, he has made a living as a car mechanic to support the wife he loves, Kia, and their two sons, Javon and Darren, he has a older daughter, Ariel, and his mean, cruel and manipulative mother with cancer is looked after in a nursing home. However, matters have begun to spiral out of his control, he cannot compete with a rival business that has taken his customers and contracts, the nursing home need the kind of money he does not have, Ariel does not have the college fees she requires, and his sons have essential needs too.

Unwilling to see his family and children's future go down the pan, Bug is all too susceptible to joining a dodgy diamond heist organised by Ronnie and Reggie Sessions, his past dealings with them had not ended well. However, these are not normal times, he is a man with few choices, although if the truth be told he has missed his old life, the sheer excitement of it making him feel so vibrantly alive. He is haunted by a love of his father, a gifted wheelman too, who left him and his mother when he was a child. The ghost and precious memories of his father have been fundamental to Bug throughout his life, his success in emulating him he took as a sign of approval that had sustained and built his sense of self esteem, but he is all too blind to his father's serious flaws. If Bug had entertained thoughts that he could keep the two sides of his life, the criminal and his family, apart, he is to be cruelly disillusioned, as the repercussions of the heist threatens his life and bring deadly danger to everyone who matters.

This is a gritty and atmospheric crime read, you cannot help feeling for and empathising with Beauregard, an intelligent black man whose life and expectations has been defined by the racism endemic in Virginia, he wants his children to have what he didn't have, a stress free childhood and the freedom to be all that they could be. This is a book that is just begging to be turned into a film, it is an action packed thrill ride, with bags of suspense and tension, as you wonder if Bug will survive, and even if he does, what kind of life will he have left? A wonderful read that I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
August 15, 2020
Now HERE’S an excellent crime novel/thriller for you: S.A. Cosby's new book, Blacktop Wasteland !!

“You were never out of the Life completely. You were always looking over your shoulder. You always kept a gun within reach, not buried under cement in your basement. Having a gun nearby was the only way you could pretend to relax.”

Once the best getaway driver on the East Coast, Beauregard “Bug” Montage has put that life behind him. He’s a husband, a father, an excellent mechanic. But lately the pressure has been mounting—the kids need glasses, braces, everything, and business has slowed down—and he doesn’t know how to get his head above water.

So when a guy with whom he’s worked before shows up, recently out of prison and talking about a can’t-miss scheme involving a jewelry store and a tremendous payoff, Bug can’t resist the temptation to get back behind the wheel again, despite everyone’s warnings to the contrary.

What Bug doesn’t really count on, however, is just how messy a web he’s about to step in. At the same time he’s trying to figure out what kind of life he really wants to lead, he’s haunted by memories of his father, who also was a renowned wheelman, and who disappeared when Bug was younger. His father left him a classic car, and he can't help but conjure up memories of him each time he gets behind the wheel.

In addition to some pulse-pounding chases and action scenes, this book explores the idea of whether a life of crime is somehow hard-wired in our genes, or if it’s just a life some are backed into. S.A. Cosby is such a fantastic writer because he makes you root for Bug and his family despite the choices he made. I've never read any of Cosby's earlier books but I'm definitely going to check them out now!

Such a fantastic book, both fast-paced and cerebral.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,865 reviews1,898 followers
May 10, 2021
Rating: the full five stars, and *almost* the annual six-stars-of-five read; instead it is:

WINNER OF THE 2020 LA Times Book Prize for Mystery or Thriller!!!

NOMINATED for the 2021 Anthony Award, Best Hardcover: https://tinyurl.com/5fv2jnrr

MAY 2021 NEWS It's only $2.99 on Kindle now!

"I got a line on a job, Bug. A big one. One that can set us up for a long time. A long goddamn time."
Beauregard knew there was no honor among thieves. Boys in the game only respected you in direct proportion to how much they needed you divided by how much they feared you. There was no doubt they needed his skill.

And if they weren't a little bit afraid of him then that was their mistake.
If you drive like you scared, you gonna lose. If you drive like you don't want to rebuild the whole engine, you gonna lose. You gotta drive like nothing else matter except getting to that line. Drive like you fucking stole it.
You caught between a wannabe Pablo Escobar chopping motherfuckers up and putting them in grease buckets and a redneck Walter White. When you fuck up you do it right.

You know this ain't gonna end well. Spoiler alert: It...sort of does...?

Bug Montage, however misguided and frankly desperate he is, doesn't take stupid home with him. In fact, he's a wise and deep thinker.

“Listen, when you’re a black man in America you live with the weight of people’s low expectations on your back every day. They can crush you right down to the goddamn ground. Think about it like it’s a race. Everybody else has a head start and you dragging those low expectations behind you. Choices give you freedom from those expectations. Allows you to cut ’em loose. Because that’s what freedom is. Being able to let things go. And nothing is more important than freedom. Nothing. You hear me, boy?” Beauregard said.

Javon nodded his head.
My daddy was right. You can't be two types of beasts. Eventually one of the beasts gets loose and wrecks shop. Rips shit all to Hell.

I don't know what else to say if the truth of that, and of its antihero main character's clear-as-moonshine voice, don't make you want to dash right out and get the damn thing.

Me? The reason I pre-ordered this book is in this Twitter thread:
I agree with and admire Author Cosby. He calls out racism wherever he finds it.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
September 28, 2021
”’We are who we were meant to be.’

The voice in his head sounded like his Daddy. That rough, whiskey-soaked melodic voice that haunted his daydreams. But the words belonged to someone far more eloquent that he couldn’t recall. He ran his finger over the hood of the Duster. People had been shot. They might even be dead. There was going to be major heat coming down after such a brazen robbery in broad daylight. He had a feeling Ronnie was going to try and fuck him over for his cut. Quan was a fucking train wreck.

But they had gotten away. He still had it. Whatever ‘it’ was.

‘We are who we were meant to be’ he said.”

Beauregard Montage is a loving father, a dedicated husband, a terrific mechanic, but that isn’t who he really is. He can tamp it down, ignore the fierce need, and the siren call of the blacktop, but the man he really is can’t exist in tandem with the man his family needs him to be. Those on the opposite side of the law from the East coast to Florida to Mississippi know the best wheelman is Bug Montage.

Behind the wheel, he is Fred Astaire, Rambo, and the Black Panther all rolled into one package. If you try to stay with him while attempting to catch him, you will find yourself flipping, rolling, smashing as you miss the turn he made with ease. You might find yourself in a body cast, wishing you’d never, ever laid eyes on his taillights. Beauregard can get away; the question is, Can he stay uncaught.

”Don’t get killed. Don’t get caught.”

Things would have been fine if Precision Auto hadn’t moved into town with their rock bottom prices. Montage’s business went from good enough to pay the bills to a ghost town. Not only are the bills piling up at the shop, but they are at home, too. To make matters worse, the old folks home wants to toss his mother out. If there is any reason to pick up robbery again, it is the thought of his mother moving into the house. She has a mouth on her that would make a marine sergeant shudder. Beauregard also struggles with his memories of his father, his own inherited violent Montage tendencies, and those same tendencies beginning to show up in his son.

So when Ronnie and Reggie Sessions come to him wanting his help taking down a big score at a jewelry store, he is a desperate man, on the verge of seeing everything he has worked so hard to build go up in flames. Why shouldn’t he use his god-given talent to make things right, to give himself some breathing room? Besides, when it really comes down to it...he loves the game. He knows Ronnie is always working some angle. Mrs. Montage didn’t raise no fool, but Beauregard thinks he can stay one step ahead of his scheming mind. The robbery turns into a shit storm, but the cops are clueless. The problem is, they just robbed a front for one of the baddest gangsters in the South. The gangster boss is vaguely amused by their antics, but he wants his diamonds back.

And then things really turn to shit.

I first heard about this book when I was watching a zoom event with Stephen King and James Lee Burke. I’ve read a lot of books by these guys, so this was a real treat for me to watch them together. King is a big fan of Burke’s work and was very complimentary, as he usually is, for the writings of other authors. He made a point of encouraging people to pick up this book. I’m so glad he mentioned it because it was so reassuring for me to read a neo-noir book being published in 2020. I feel like there has been a dearth of hardboiled, gritty mysteries being published in recent years. It is obvious to me, while reading this book, that S. A. Cosby has a real love for the genre, and that he has read extensively in the genre. This is a wild ride with wonderful twists and turns and not just when Montage is behind the wheel. The only thing missing is a femme fatale to throw one more monkey wrench into an already messed up situation.

I bet he gets to her in his next book.

Buckle up buttercup, and hop in Montage’s Plymouth Duster, and wait for him to hit the nitro. You’ll be rolling like a rocket through the blacktop wasteland. You’ll hear the sirens recede until the only thing you’re listening to is the whistling of the wind through a crack in the window seal. You’ll feel that occasional wobble as the car navigates the soft swells of the rolling hills. You’ll feel a singing in your blood. You’ll look over at Beauregard and match his grin with your own.

”Get in. Get Out. Get gone.”

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
July 22, 2020
A dream come true is a fine thing.  Bug Montage has worked hard to turn his errant life around.  He's happily married with kids, lives in a doublewide trailer, and operates a small successful mechanic shop.  After a series of unfortunate events, he stands to lose everything.  There's that dream turning into a nightmare.  Bug makes a decision he can't take back, and he's in trouble deep.  Tough, gritty, and full of some stellar metaphors.  Get ready for a wild ride.  Man, oh man, can that dude drive!
March 7, 2023
4+ backroads crime thriller stars!

“A mistake is a lesson, unless you make the same mistake twice.”

After leaving “the Life” behind, a man agrees to commit one more crime to get his family afloat and save them from losing everything.

This is a book that sat on my shelf for years as I worried that the hype may have set my expectations too high. I’m happy to report — this was worth all the hype! It was a gritty, backroads, gun-slinging, crime-filled, well-written story that speaks of the sad reality many people live.

I was invested from the first chapter. It’s one of those stories where you can’t help but root for the unruly main character even though what he is doing is illegal. The relationships were an intriguing aspect throughout this story as the main character tries to get by the law. I was hooked and hanging on every word of this action packed adventure.

Overall, this was a fast-paced, unique, entertaining, well-written story that I highly recommend! I look forward to reading more by this author!
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,750 followers
May 27, 2020
I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for review.

You know how some cars have a handhold mounted above the doors on the interior, and you hear people call them the “Oh-Shit-Handle” because if you’re a passenger and something crazy happens you might find yourself clutching it while screaming expletives?

This book should come with an Oh-Shit-Handle because it’s that kind of ride.

Beauregard “Bug” Montage was a professional criminal whose planning skills were second only to his driving abilities. However, he left that life behind to be a husband and father, and he started his own automotive repair shop in rural Virginia. Unfortunately, business has gotten slow, and the bills are piling up. That’s when an old associate who burned Bug on a previous heist shows up with the promise of an easy score. Feeling that he has no other options, Bug decides to do the job even though he has grave concerns about who he’ll be working with.

What could possibly go wrong?

I wrote about how S.A. Cosby came to my attention at the 2019 Bouchercon in my review of his first book, My Darkest Prayer, and with his second book he continues to deliver.

The idea of a former criminal trying to go straight who takes one last job has certainly been done before in crime fiction. Cosby hits all the familiar beats with the planning, the heist, the twist, all the other elements you’d see in a Richard Stark novel, and he does them well. As just a crime novel this makes for a helluva page turner.

Where the book hits the next gear (Get it?) is in the character work done with Bug, and it’s all about the relationships. First, there’s the daddy issues with Bug being haunted by his unresolved feelings for his father, a criminal who vanished at a critical moment in Bug’s youth. Then there’s the hateful dying mother he feels obligated to support. Finally, there’s the wife and kids he dearly loves and is trying to make a brighter future for.

Like many a character in a crime fiction like this, Bug claims he’s doing it all for his loved ones, but there’s a part of him that also loves the outlaw life. It also fits his violent tendencies better than being a family man, and one of the key things that Cosby digs into here is the notion of a person split between two conflicting lifestyles that are fundamentally opposed. In the end the book is really about Bug coming to terms with who he really is, who he wants to be, and what kind of damage he’s already done to the people he loves.

In addition to all this, the writing just absolutely cooks. There’s great action, gritty violence, humor, heartbreaking moments, and while reading there were some driving sequences where I found myself pressing my foot on the floor as if I could stomp the brake to slow the car down. I grew up in a rural area, and I may have broken a few speed limits on country roads in my youth so Cosby’s descriptions of what that rush is like really hit home for me,

It’s a fantastic follow up to his first novel, and it makes me more sure than ever that Cosby is a writer to watch.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,545 followers
December 6, 2020
As unputdownable as any work of modern fiction has the right to be. Reminding me of James Sallis' Drive--well, the movie version with Ryan Gosling more so--it has so much action without any clunkiness or daft, macho descriptions (Such as "[he] was hit in the face with a pie that had a padlock in it" [38]). It's got an authenticity with black characters speaking their minds with such realism in such Hollywoodlike situations.There is adrenaline & tenderness packed in a plot that deals with violent men taking money in car races and robberies. Also rife with double-crossings, shootings, & tire-on-asphalt Steve McQueenness. It's a breeze to race through it, reading like some truly terrific script. When Cosby describes mid-novel the climactic jewel heist & starts naming a few song names to go with the action like a soundtrack companion, well, you know he's as excited as the robbers, joining with in the criminally good fun merely with the jolt of his words.

Tunnel-vision becomes what the reader experiences ultimately, making this a contender for Best Beach read 2020.

***I received a free BLACKTOP WASTELAND by S.A. Cosby from Macmillan in an exchange for an honest review.***
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,867 followers
May 31, 2020
Beauregard “Bug” Montage has gone clean. He used to be the man to get if you needed a driver in a hurry. Not necessarily a legal hurry. He is living the life at the beginning of this story with his wife and two boys. But then a competitor opens up a cheaper garage and money problems start and Bug starts worrying about how the bills are going to get paid.
Enter in a diamond heist that two dumb butts have the perfect crime planned out for. They just need a driver.
"I asked around about you, boy. They say you could outrun the devil on the highway to Hell."

And Bug can.
But as far as perfect crimes go this one is like most of them. They go bad.

Bug ends up in way deeper than he ever imagined. The two idiots that set up the heist had no clue who they were messing with.
You caught between a wannabe Pablo Escobar chopping motherfuckers up and putting them in grease buckets and a redneck Walter White. When you fuck up you do it right.

I flipping loved every single second of this book. Bug was the character that I could see his point of view so well that I actually thought several times that I was in that car with him. This author can write his ass off.
My daddy was right. You can't be two types of beasts. Eventually one of the beasts gets loose and wrecks shop. Rips shit all to Hell.

I'm gonna go licks the wounds that this book gave me and bask in the book hangover that only a select few books can give.

Booksource: I received a copy of this book from the publisher thru Netgalley in exchange for review. I loved it all on my own.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,696 reviews14.1k followers
August 11, 2020
3.5 Muscle cars, yes we had the best cars, among other things like music, back in the day. Opens with a muscle car race that turns out to be anything but ordinary. But was the best get away driver in the past, he and cars were simpatico, but now he has a family, more to lose. This though, is rural Virginia and poverty is king, he tries to keep on the up and up. Opens his own repair shop, but then the other shoe drops and money, well money though the root of all evil, needs to be paid. Hugs is out of options.

I loved the way this author treated Bugs and others so compassionately. Shows how sometimes despite ones intentions, life doesn't go as planned. Traps await and bills come due, options limited. How even a good man can be stretched, stressed to the limit and turn to something he wished he didn't have to do. Even that though, doesn't turn out the way one would expect. Now but trouble comes calling.

A good, fast paced thriller with a strong moral message.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,312 reviews659 followers
January 17, 2021
For me, one sign of a well-written crime novel is when the protagonist is a criminal, doing horrid things, and you still root for him. You want him to get away with it. You want him to succeed. “Blacktop Wasteland” is that sort of book, with Bug, the main character, possessing the intentions of being a good father, a solid businessman, a loving husband. Yes, he’s done some bad things, but he’s trying to leave those things behind.

When the story opens, Bug (Beauregard) owns an auto repair shop. He was barely getting by until a competitor pops up and undercuts his business. Adding to that, his daughter wants to go to college and his mother is in a nursing home and behind on her fees. One son needs braces and the other needs glasses. He’s feeling economic pressure. He’s been on the straight and narrow path for years. His inner musings provide the reader with his anguish of doing everything right, and still not maintaining a decent living standard.

Author S.A. Cosby sets his story in Virginia, where the Confederate flag is plentiful and people still call him “boy”. Bug is black and feels the inequities his race provides. Cosby doesn’t pontificate about racial injustice in this novel. He shows it in everything Bug attempts to do. At one point in the story, Bug is remembering a discussion he had with his daddy:

“Listen, when you’re black in America you live with the weight of people’s low expectations on your back every day……Think about it like it’s a race. Everybody else has a head start and you dragging those low expectations behind you.”

Bug is known in the criminal world as being the best get-away driver in the South. A past acquaintance comes to him with a scheme to steal a cache of diamonds. The guy has an in at a jewelry store, and he needs a driver. If there is a flaw in the story. It’s that Bug actually decides to work with this idiot. Bug is clearly smart; when he decides to collaborate with this loser, I was skeptical. If you get past that, Cosby takes you on a very interesting car chase and getaway story. Cosby knows about cars, and he writes a mean road action story. It was like reading scenes from “Smokey and Bandit” without the comedy portion. Bug is an amazing driver, and half the cleverness of the novel is his driving skills.

This is a gritty story that is both action-packed and a bit depressing. Bug is fighting against poverty and bad guys. All through the story we read about his dichotomy of wanting to be a good man and a provider against the allure of the life of crime. This conflict gnaws on his conscious throughout the novel. This is marketed as a crime novel, but I feel it’s a contemporary story of economic desperation.
Profile Image for Dave.
2,981 reviews324 followers
June 20, 2020
Cosby's "Blacktop Wasteland" is a lesson in what makes a great crime fiction novel. And, when I say great, you better believe it. It harkens back to all the top caper novels. It's all about a guy named Beauregard Montage, better known as "Bug." And, Bug is just trying to go straight, to life a good life, be a good husband, a good father. But, as Springsteen once said, he's got debts no honest man can pay. He's going to lose the garage business he's built up over the years since he got out.

And, maybe, if he pulled one last job, he'd be able to provide for his family. See, Bug is a driver. He's a driver like Steve McQueen is a driver and no one is at one with a set of wheels like Bug. But, see the thing is when you're desperate you don't have the luxury of picking your jobs and you can't pick your partners. The job ain't planned out to the second like Bug wants and his partners are trying out for a walk on part in Goodfellas. Like any good noir novel, you can already sense the whirlpool starting and you know it's all going to go sideways. Bug is like a drowning man without a damn life preserver.

Bug is a terrific complex character who can't get off the road he's on. The writing in this novel is absolutely fantastic. Every page counts. Every word counts.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Profile Image for Carol.
824 reviews480 followers
August 24, 2021
The Hook I recently read an article about controlling a huge TBR pile. Of course, the easiest rule to try is not to fall prey to every Tom, Dick or Mary's rave review promising everything you most like in a book. In genealogy they call this the BSO, Bright Shiny Object; you can't resist and soon you're down a rabbit hole of secondary research. In the case of the book, it has your name written all over it and once again, before you know it, it's in your hand and every book you own before it, goes back one place in your reading order.

Attempt at humor aside, I sincerely thank Flatiron Books, Edelweiss, and S. A. Cosby (Shawn A.), for the privilege to read an advance copy of Blacktop Wasteland. Lucky readers waiting to get their hands on a book worth all its hype in diamonds, Blacktop Wasteland hit all your favorite places to get your books on July 14th. Go get it!

The Line - Sorry, put publishers frown at quoting from an arc though I doubt much has changed from the published work than the arc I read. Just know there are lots of memorable lines in this one.

The Sinker - Those of you who follow me know I'm not going to give you a long plot summary. You'll find most of what you need to know by reading the blurbs and the pro reviews. Just sit down in your favorite reading place and open the book.

Hooked from page one, Blacktop Wasteland never lost its momentum. Cosby sets the scene in the rural fictional town of Red Hill, VA (reminds me of Hampton Roads). The main protagonist, Beauregard, “Bug” is one of those bad guys you hate to love. Along with partners in crime, a crew of outright criminals, and some just trying to live the life, this cast of characters leapt off the pages while Beauregard presses the pedal to the medal in a deliciously complex heist. Blacktop Wasteland is fast paced, gritty, and written in dialog that fits its settings and improves its plot. Beauregard does get into some questionable scrapes. “Could that really happen?” and then I remember seeing something like that on Myth Busters and it could but “don't try this from home”. I might have had to suspend belief a bit but I was happy doing so. Fans and critics alike are saying “movie”. Blacktop Wasteland is one heck of a summer read, and one of the best thrillers I've read in ages. It's a h_ _l of a ride.
Profile Image for Michelle.
593 reviews447 followers
July 13, 2020
4.5 stars rounded up

I've waited almost an entire day before I wrote this review to provide enough time to ruminate on all there is to unpack with this story. Beauregard “Bug” Montage, is the guy you root for. He has a troubled past, but is a devoted father and husband trying to make an honest living. When his past comes knocking, he is pulled back into a life he had sworn off.

What stands out to me the most about this book is that a lot of the substance can be overlooked because of the many action scenes (this book was jam packed with them!!). While this isn't a bad thing - (sometimes subliminal messages about how someone else lives are helpful in nudging a reader to think differently about the world) - it definitely takes work on the part of the reader to truly digest all that is within the pages. However, what resonated with me the most was that it highlights the systemic issue of poverty and how that infects every part of your life and makes it ten times harder to overcome a problem that comes your way. It forces an individual or family to make a choice between bad and terrible. Food on the table or medication for your child? Rent for the month or a car repair bill so you can get to work? Life saving medication for yourself or long term care bill for your ailing parent? So many people in our country and across the world face these decisions every day and have no help. Everything that takes place in this book stems from issues with money and it is passed on from generation to generation because no one is able to get ahead enough to stop it completely. It further opened my eyes to how important it is to yes, have compassion for people who are in these situations, but how much more important it is to work towards providing economic opportunities for communities that have been left behind. Bug and his family personified these circumstances and it could not have been written any better.

A few notes to the reader considering this excellent book. Please do not be swayed into thinking it is a thriller. It is pure and simple a crime drama and beyond that exploration of what I discussed above. Attica Locke and Steve Cavanagh come to mind for work that is similar so if you like those author's books, you should seek this one out. Lastly, take your time when reading this. It's easy to turn those pages as quick as can be because of how the action sucks you in and grabs your attention, but deliberate reading here is necessary. The author is writing brilliantly a story that is all too common. I urge you to add this to your reading list. Particularly, this summer. Don't walk, don't run - drive like your life depended on it (or in a quarantine - get to your computer) and order a copy as soon as you can. This book will blow you away.

Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me an e-galley to read and provide an honest review. Thank you also to S.A. Cosby for sharing his motivation behind the process of writing this story, which I found on Edelweiss. It was an honor to read your work.

Review Date: 07/12/2020
Publication Date: 07/14/2020
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
July 21, 2021
Review posted to blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

A slow burning character driven suspenseful crime drama that will have you holding onto the seat of your pants.

What can I say about Blacktop Wasteland that hasn’t already been said?! The writing here is stellar and the characterizations are brilliant.

Beauregard (Bug) Montage is a character with heart. A family man who cares about taking care of his own about all else. A man who is the best at what he does and has no fear.

When money is tight and he desperately needs to find a way to survive, an opportunity arises that Bug simply can’t pass up. Though the consequences are dire, Bug has no fear.

For those of you who are like me and are late to this party, when you settle in to read this, put everything else aside. You won’t regret it. Kudos to S.A. Crosby for writing such a captivating, hard hitting, novel.
3.9 Stars

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of this book to read and review. Thank you also to my book buddy Kaceey who already read this one and convinced me to read it.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,296 followers
July 15, 2020
Holy shit this was good. Literally from the first chapter this book went off like a firecracker and never let up. Beauregard Montage might be the most inherently badass character I’ve ever come across while reading, all in a way that doesn’t feel contrived by the author.

I’ve been lamenting lately that the Thriller genre has been too homogenous, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Blacktop Wasteland is a crime thriller that’s full of memorable characters, intensity and a whole lot of heart-racing action. The novel follows Beauregard, a former notorious getaway driver, as he’s tried to settle into the quiet life with his family. Through circumstances both within and outside of his control, he finds himself in constantly escalating situations that put the life he’s built in danger.

The world he’s left behind is not for the light-hearted. It’s harsh and ruthless and left me audibly gasping multiple times. Not everyone is cut out for that type of environment. The tone is set right away; you’ll know if this is a book you’d like by the end of chapter one. As a character, Bug’s strength has an quiet quality to it—understated until it isn’t. He’s easy to identify with and there’s a good amount of second-hand catharsis whenever he catches up with those who did him wrong.

Literally Beauregard

I also liked that Beau didn’t try to hide what was happening from his wife, Kia. He wasn’t necessarily forthcoming and didn’t go into detail, but I feel like that’s more because she didn’t want to know specifics. Any questions she had, he more or less answered. I fully expected him to just lie to her face about both the heist and what Javon did, but was pleasantly surprised when he told her immediately. The one thing I wish S.A. Cosby did differently is give Kia a little more to do in this story. She’s the loving but no-nonsense wife who ‘worries about him’. Her and the kids’ role is reduced to being liabilities that Beauregard needs to protect. I honestly think this book would struggle to pass the Bechdel Test.

In all, though, I absolutely loved this. It’s well-plotted and paced and totally captivating. Natalie (@bookreadreciepts) and I did this as a buddy read, and even her stingy butt gave it 5 stars! If you’re looking for a gripping and action-packed thriller (thats not centered around a drunk white lady or a ‘rogue cop’), I definitely recommend Blacktop Wasteland.

*Thanks to Flatiron Books & Netgalley for an advance copy!
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
442 reviews656 followers
April 10, 2021
Wow! What a ride. Not what I expected, totally shocked, and loved every minute of it. I saw it was on a top GR list, have had it on my TBR pile for awhile, but wasn't one that was calling to me. Added it to my library queue an it was a very long wait, I took that as a good sign. This was a buddy read with Dana and when we tested it out and heard the audio...we were immediately sucked into the story.

Blacktop Wasteland tells the story of Beauregard "Bug" Montage. He's down on his luck. He's married with two small kids, has another older daughter as well. He owns his own mechanic shop where he was doing well for awhile. That is until a rival shop opens and Bug is loosing business. He needs money or his shop will close. His mother needs to remain in home care but due to an oversight (on purpose) on her part to not declare some money, he needs a lot of money to pay for her care or she's shipped out. His daughter, wants to go to college but needs money. Bug wants her to leave and get out of the place where he sees nothing good for her, he wants her to leave and never look back. All these money troubles lead Bug to make one decision that changes the lives of so many people. One small decision to commit a crime that continues to spiral out of control. And it was all due to Ronnie Friggin Sessions!

A great buddy read that we both loved and can't stop thinking about. The audio was a deep, strong voice that added so much to the narration. A gritty, violent, heartbreaking story that we couldn't put down. When the story started out and they were drag racing for money I thought eh, not my thing. But it immediately went to violence and the story picked up pretty quickly. I was shocked, enthralled, and sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next. After you meet Ronnie Friggin Sessions you just know it's all going bad. I just didn't realize how far it would go. I'm very stingy with 5 star reads but I can't give this one anything less. I will only say....S.A. Cosby please write more, and fast!
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,941 reviews722 followers
November 26, 2020
We all know we would do whatever needed to be done to save our family. In this extremely well written book, we learn of a man Beauregard "Bug" Montage who does everything he can to protect and preserve a family he loves, even to the point of death.

This was such a strong book, making so many relevant topics appear seamless in a story of family, friend, villains, prejudices, and a life that seems to be predestined. Are we what our parents were or can we escape from the things that made our parents life unhappy, dangerous, and terrifying?

Bug Montage is a family man, so in love with his wife and a father working hard as a car mechanic to make it all come together. He finds himself up against it as a competitor has moved into town and Bug's business is failing. He doesn't want a repeat of the life his father had, a father he loved even though he had been deserted by him, and yet he needed to provide for his beloved family.

One of Bug's myriad talents is his uncanny ability to drive, a reputation based on his other persona of having been a getaway driver. With much trepidation he becomes the getaway driver for a jewelry heist, opening himself and his family to the most dangerous positions as the world of darkness descends upon them. It's a story of survival, a story of strength, a story that blends flawlessly all the elements that make S.A. Cosby's work shine.

This was a story that fostered one's compassion and empathy for a father who finds himself in a position that seems untenable and yet he perseveres in the love of his wife and children. They are first and foremost in his mind and actions.

This book comes highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
380 reviews1,616 followers
March 7, 2023
Such a great book! Looking forward to My Darkest Prayer by this author.
Profile Image for TheBookWarren.
402 reviews88 followers
October 23, 2022
5 Stars — Blacktop Wasteland, what a brilliant banger of a title! As if this wasn’t enough, @Flatironbooks has done a bang-up job with the cover. Striking yet subtle & simplistic — It encapsulates everything wonderful about this silky-smooth novel by SA Crosby.

A Crime-fiction novel, delivered in it’s most superb form. The story of Beauregard & his cohorts really is just that excellent. Crosby writes with a prose choc-full of grit and is delivered with razor-sharp witt, charm & consistent pulsing energy. A modern-noire masterwork, Blacktop Wasteland is hard to compare but is best summed up as a blend of Ide’s IQ thrown into a blender with Denzel’s The Equaliser & Heat’s Nick Macauley played by Robert DeNiro.

Beauregard, A mechanic with a criminal past & heritage is a a no nonsense wheelman (like his dead-beat daddy whom took off when he was a little fella) with serious skills he pretends he doesn’t want to use. But when forced to use them after one-last-job goes pear-shaped, well the fun doesn’t stop and let’s just say the bunny ain’t going back in no box!

This is scintillating, southern-noire crime like you’ve never read before and it is so good the pages are lead-heavy from the weight of the charm, a quality reminiscent of Joe Ide’s IQ Debut, which in my world is just about as high an compliment as a testosterone-filled-gritty-crime-drama can get.

Easily, One of my Best reads of 2020, Blacktop Wasteland is a genuine heavyweight that feels so pure & even brings a congenial-mellow to my inner-reader that just looking at the cover makes me want to ignore the 300+ novels in my TBR pile and dive back in!

A recent re-read of this, has me even more convinced this is an all-time great. The gritty, nuanced power is sheer electricity.
Profile Image for Lee  (the Book Butcher).
245 reviews65 followers
December 8, 2022
This is really to hard boiled for me. the butcher has gone soft! I try to read a crime drama every once in a while, S.A Cosby or Bruno Johnson series by David Putnam will do the trick helps balance out all the children and YA I read.

S.A Cosby is a good author. In the audiobook afterward Cosby says he writes this type of crime story because it sells and it's a way to get his social ideal across. I would love to read a book based solely on those ideal.

Beau is a driver trying to make a clean break. He's a good character with two sons, a daughter from another relationship, and a loving wife. The only problem is his dad was also a driver. A legendary driver and beau is just as good. His father Anthony split. Beau is offered a good job by a white boy he does not like. But of course the job turn bad because the bank they rob is a gangster front and they pick up beau's redneck friend. Who is still partying they shot the other robber and beau has to clean it up. Cosby is from Virginia which is the old south. Where every other road is named Dixie. Cosby claims to be a motorhead. So if you're into cars that helps.

This answered a question of how someone with a bad background tries to turn his life around. Beau not sure he can. Great story little to hard for the butcher and I'm not a car guy. But worth the read!
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,398 reviews801 followers
May 17, 2021
“No matter how fast he went or how many races he won it didn’t compare to driving for a crew, being behind the wheel with the cops behind you and the road in front of you while everyone around you was wishing they had worn brown pants. It was a high that couldn’t be replicated with drugs or drinks. He’d tried both and they didn’t come close.”

Beauregard Montage is not his Daddy. No, he’s not. His Daddy was “like a thunderstorm in a world of gentle breezes. That’s the way he tore through life. That’s the way he raised me.”

He’s done jobs, and done time, but now he’s got a good garage and a straight business. Unfortunately a competition chain garage has opened up and is attracting his customers away. He and wife Kia and kids are scraping bottom, about to lose everything. He is a devoted family man – a corny, over-worked phrase, but true for Bug, as he’s known.

This is a book where status is measured in single-wides, double-wides, and some actual houses. A developer may park a few trailers on an empty space in the country and call it a trailer park. After the 2008 recession, this Virginia town’s employers, the corporations, moved offshore to

“cut expenses by half while doubling profits.

The empty buildings stood like forgotten monoliths to a lost civilization. The ice plant, the insulation plant, the flag factory and the elastic plant were hardly discernible anymore. Mother Nature was reclaiming her land with steady, implacable persistence. The pine trees and the dogwoods and the honeysuckle and the kudzu were slowly but surely enveloping the old buildings in an arboreal embrace.”

Success seems to be measured by survival of the scariest. When he’s offered a ‘job’, Kia begs him to stay home, stay clean, sell the Duster. Never. That's his Daddy's '71 Plymouth Duster that he loves and races to pick up money here and there. The lure of the job is too strong, the alternative of losing everything too dire. He trusts nobody, but he needs the money.

The jobs are all violent and bloody. Be warned.

“Beauregard knew there was no honor among thieves. Boys in the game only respected you in direct proportion to how much they needed you divided by how much they feared you. There was no doubt they needed his skill.

And if they weren’t a little bit afraid of him, then that was their mistake.”

I like cars and racing (other people driving!) which made it a visual experience for me. This is a screenplay waiting for a director and drivers, if they aren’t already lined up. Scenes are spelled out as guts are spilled out.

“[X] had barely closed the door all the way when Beauregard took off, tires squealing and leaving a cloud of gray smoke in his wake. The Buick sailed out of the parking lot doing 40. Beauregard slammed on the brakes and the gas as he twisted the steering wheel to the right. There were only a few cars on the street this time of morning. Beauregard careened around them going up on the sidewalk then back to the street. He ran a red light and [X] screamed as he threaded the needle between a jacked-up good ol’ boy truck and a short-body delivery van.

Beauregard gripped the steering wheel like it was life preserver. He could feel the vibrations of the engine radiating through the wheel and up his arms. His heart wasn’t pounding. He guessed it wasn’t doing more than 70 beats per minute. This was where he belonged. Where he excelled. Some people were meant to pound the keys on a piano or strum the strings of a guitar. A car was his instrument and he was performing a symphony. A coldness filled him. It started in his stomach and spread to his extremities. He knew no matter what happened he would never feel more alive, more present than he felt at this moment. There was truth in that idea and sadness too.”

This is a grim, exciting, terrifying, bone-crunching, breath-taking ride, and a heart-breaking open wound of a story. I hated it and loved it.

Horrendous and wonderful. I so want it not to be a way of life, but if I’m going to read about it, this is what I’d choose.
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