Cosby is an African-American writer from Virginia, and his combustible brew of rural crime, racism and deprivation is couched in language that leaps off the page. Beauregard “Bug” Montage is a black mechanic who has never got over the loss of his criminal father. Bug has tried to support his family legally but with his auto shop about to go bust, he is drawn into the violent orbit of Ronnie Sessions. The author has said the book is an elegy “to the worst of who I am as a man”, and with dialogue as scabrous as anything by Elmore Leonard, Cosby is refreshingly ambiguous about his conflicted hero. We will be hearing a lot about this author.
“Bug” Montage, the African-American protagonist of SA Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland (Headline £18.99, ebook £18.99), is a former getaway driver who went straight, but needs money so urgently that he agrees to take part in a jewellery store robbery that will win him $80,000. Although botched by his scuzzy associates, the raid nets the diamonds; then they discover the jeweller’s is owned by a big-league gangster, who demands they repay him by doing another job. This heist-gone-wrong premise is a clutch of clichés, but the flair with which Cosby handles them means you soon forget that.
A superb character study wrapped up in a high-octane heist novel, SA Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is the story of Beauregard “Bug” Montage, a black Virginian with a criminal past as a getaway driver...
A complex and moving take on racial tension and self-destructive masculinity, with blistering action sequences and car chases that fairly roar off the page, this is undoubtedly one of the summer’s stand-out reads.