About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

(10. - 1125.) Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby - I bought Razorblade Tears because J. Kingston Pierce in the Rap Sheet blog advised that it had been on the largest number of lists of reviewers and bloggers of their favourite books of 2021. I wanted to find out why so many loved the book. I knew the answer after reading the first 10 pages.

Ex-cons, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins, are burying their sons, Isiah and Derek, who were married and the fathers of a daughter, Arianna. Both fathers have deep regrets over how they treated their gay sons when they were boys and when they were men. Neither could accept their son was gay.

Buddy Lee lives alone in a broken down trailer and drinks heavily.

Ike lives in a nice home with his wife, Mya, and now Arianna. He owns and operates Randolph Lawn Maintenance. He is precise and caring with regard to his landscaping equipment.

Each man lives with the burden of not accepting their sons as gay and letting that disdain govern the relationship. They desperately wish they had given up their prejudices.

Ike weeps alone:

Tears for his son. Tears for his wife. Tears for the little girl they had to raise. Tears for who they were and what they all had lost. Each drop felt like it was slicing his face open like a razorblade.

Isiah and Derek had been shot in front of a liquor store multiple times. The final shots were the double tap to the head of an executioner.

Ike and Buddy Lee have vicious pasts. While tamped down violence simmers within them. They form a dangerous duo when they decide to find who killed their boys.

Each was an bright thug. Their intelligence led them away from crime. Most of their violence in their younger days was calculated.

They can be subtle in their investigation but their patience is frail. I do not favour violent vigilantes but Ike and Buddy Lee are a compelling pair.

Their cause is righteous but what is the cost to their psyches to return to violence. Buddy Lee talks to Derek at the joint grave:

“This is who I am. I can’t change. I don’t want to, really. But for once I’m gonna put this devil inside me to good use.”

Ike has a good marriage and loves Arianna. Buddy Lee still cares for Christine, his ex. That they would risk their lives for a cause, just as it may be, their sons would not have wanted, challenges the reader. They are not cartoon figures bashing villains from page to page. Yet they cannot turn back. They failed as fathers when their sons were alive. They ache with guilt. They cannot rest unless they get justice for their boys. 

Cosby understands hurt. 

The violence is graphic in Razorblade Tears.  As usual in such books fewer bodies would have sufficed. It is far more thoughtful than all but a small minority of contemporary noir. The violence felt right. Ike sums up:

"..... Folks like to talk about revenge like it's a righteous thing but   it's just hate in a nicer suit, ..."


  1. I keep hearing how good this is, Bill. And it does sound like a very compelling story with strong characters . I'm not generally one for a lot of violence in a novel, but in some cases, it serves the story, and it sounds as though that's the case here. I'm glad you thought it was a good read.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The violence does serve the story. I would be interested in your thoughts of the book.

  2. Another view of revenge: ‘Revenge is a valuable passion, and the only sure pillar on which justice rests' - A.E. Housman.
    Housman was complaining because someone had quoted one of his poems without asking permission (which he always gave), so he might not have been entirely serious.

    1. Roger: Thanks for the comment. I think Ike is more accurate than A.E. Few see revenge as a legal pillar.