Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Published by Flatiron Books
Publication date: July 14, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Southern Grit, Suspense
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Beauregard (“Bug”) is a man dedicated to his work. His work being cars and anything to do with them, especially muscle cars. This means when Blacktop Wasteland begins, he’s also a man torn. He’s gone legit and opened an auto repair shop, but a new competitor in the small town of Red Hill, Virginia is trying to put him out of business. Despite his promise to his wife Kia and his love for his sons, Bug finds the only way he can make the money he needs is to return to what he does best—driving getaway cars.
The right opportunity seems to arise when Ronnie Sessions, a man Bug had worked with before, comes to him with a plan to steal loose diamonds from a jewelry store. It will be an inside job, where nothing can go wrong. Of course, something can and does. Blacktop Wasteland doesn’t go for small measures and the store turns out to be a front for a drug ring run by some very angry men. Angry because a larger cartel is trying to take them over and those diamonds were their way out.
There’s no subtlety in Blacktop Wasteland. It’s a classic novel of a good man who makes bad choices for the right reasons. With each page Bug is pulled into a bigger and darker world, culminating in the heist of a trailer full of platinum coils. It’s his last chance to get free with enough money to rebalance his life, but he’s burdened with people who he can’t trust and who are too stupid to pay attention.
This novel felt like a watered-down version of Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain, which is five-star Southern grit lit. It immersed me in a part of America I knew nothing about while keeping me glued to the page. The difference is Blacktop Wasteland is action action action with very little character development. Which is fine, if what you need is a high octane, breakneck pace and a plot filled with hairpin turns. In that way this novel delivers.
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