“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby was excellent. It was a thriller about a “wheel man” out of the life that runs into money trouble. His auto shop is struggling with new competition in town, his oldest daughter pondering college, his mother’s nursing home is threatening to evict her, and all of his other bills are stamped ‘final notice.’ That’s when he gets tempted by an old friend for one final job…
While the trope is well-known, there are several aspects of “Blacktop Wasteland” that make it stand out. Mr. Cosby’s description of the poor, rural South, the depth and layers of his character development, the pacing of the story, and the nonstop gripping power that it seizes the reader with all accentuate the narrative.
In specific, two of Cosby’s characters: Beauregard, aka “Bug” and his depth, raised by his mother after his father left them when he was a teenager, and how he idolized the life his father lived, and his own marriage, raising his sons, and the temptation to fall into old patterns; the other is Ronnie, a poor white man, living in a trailer, gets into some gambling problems, and needs to pull off a big heist to pay off the gangsters looking to collect; these two characters both tragic figures with a past, a chip on their shoulder, and each has very different responses to pressures they face.
There were so many compelling pieces in this novel, truly it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill thriller, instead there are deep themes here to explore about how the past affects the present setting a course for the future, ultimately begging the question, ‘Can a flawed man really ever change and escape the past?’