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Razorblade Tears

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A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9781250252708

336 pages, Hardcover

First published July 6, 2021

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S.A. Cosby

42 books4,910 followers

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5 stars
30,820 (38%)
4 stars
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3 stars
13,453 (16%)
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995 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,967 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
May 3, 2023
I voted for this amazing book at Goodreads Choice Awards! It didn’t win but the author won unlimited credits from me! This book is still a big winner for me! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

I’m clapping with all my power my hands can gather! This is absolutely best crime thriller of the year!When I started to turn the pages, I felt like I sat on my couch, visualizing the chapters like watching a nonstop action packed, provocative, intense movie I cannot get my eyes off! I even made casting and imagined Ike as Denzel Washington and Buddy Lee as Tim Robbins or Jeff Daniels ( both of them are amazing actors give life to this remarkable characterization)

Razorblade tears’ story cuts you too deep, squeezes your heart, shakes your soul, changes your reality, forces you rethink how you perceive the world! It’s raw, it’s powerful, it’s dazzling, it’s addictive!

You know there are movies you want to rewatch at each year to discover new sides of the story and enjoy it like you have never seen it before! This is that kind of book: its heart throbbing, whirlwind, mind blowing pacing and unforgettable characters made you want to read over and over again. Chant for your favorite heroes! Clap for the epic chapters and scream for unexpected twists, curse to the despicable villains!

I don’t know you but this already took its special place as one of my best of the best, all time favorite books!

I’m giving a short summary of synopsis but before starting to type, I’m telling you: read this book! Read this book! Read this book! Then fell free to send me your thank you gifts after my highly enthusiastic recommendation! This book wooed me with its fast pacing, twisty story telling and two adorable, tough, broken characters I truly call my heroes: Ike and Buddy Lee.

One black and one white middle aged ex cons: the only common thing about them not only their haunted pasts. Both of them lost their sons. The sons were married with each other: Isiah, black journalist in late 20’s and his pastry chef husband, Derek are killed brutally. Is that a hate crime and merciless price of interracial gay marriage?

Ike Randolph already paid his dues and
tried too hard to stay on the right side of law by working too hard at his job, providing his family a household, restricting his anger. On the contrary Buddy Lee lives in a trailer, dumbed by his wife for a wealthy politician, coughing blood, suffering with lost and anger. Both of them regrets their ill fated relationships with their sons.

Both of them realize the justice will not be served. Their boys’ case is already considered as open case without having any clues because nobody wants to talk or scaring of giving testimony.

When their boys’ graveyards are vandalized, it is the last straw for them. They need to take the matters into their hands to bring the justice their boys deserved. Even it means they’ll drag into dangerous journey and fight against one of the most brutal MC gang named Breed.

They’re two old men against the world. Their vengeance and regret were their fuel to fight back!

No more words! This is Freaking Fantastic!!!
Mark my words: this is one of the greatest hits of this year!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 120 books159k followers
August 26, 2021
Stayed up all night because I couldn’t put this book down. Action packed, a fine hard edge of a story about two very flawed fathers seeking justice for their murdered sons. Really well written and absorbing. I would have liked to see more attention paid to the women characters who were not well fleshed out. And there were parts that were overly didactic about accepting (or not) LGBTQIA people. But this is an explosive thrill ride. You will love this novel.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
December 29, 2022
"What does it take for two cishet men to grasp the basic fact that queer people are also human beings deserving of dignity and basic human decency?" is the center inquiry of this novel. The answers we are left with by the end are:

But hey, at least they grow as people, learn from their mistakes, and realize that "love is love" and all that jazz. Right?

I wasn't going to write a review, but God, this book still strikes such a chord of anger, and my train is delayed, so let me elaborate very briefly:

I started this book with a half-formed sense of unease. Two lines from the synopsis raised immediate red flags in my mind. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, [the two fathers] rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. I thought, "that kinda sounds like the novel utilizes violence against queer people to redeem two homophobic men." I was not interested in that story. But I resolved not to judge a book by its synopsis. Upon seeing the waves of adulation this book generated, my skepticism was somewhat placated. I decided to give this book a shot. Why not.

I really should've just listened to my gut.

In Razorblade Tears, violence—graphic, stomach-turning, abject violence—wreaked upon queer bodies quite literally provides the impetus for the character motivations: two homophobic dads learn of the murder of their two gay sons and decide to indulge their grief, and alleviate the burden of their guilt, by setting out on a redemptive quest for revenge. This is, in every sense, their story, and if a few queer bodies had to be horrifically sacrificed to the gristmill for the realization of that story, well—this novel seems to say—then so be it.

But there's another story gasping for oxygen on the page—the more relevant, heartbreaking, and confronting story. It's the story that centers two young and successful gay men who, despite being impoverished from a lifelong diet of miserly love, found the absolutely incandescent strength to build a home for each other, and to raise a daughter whose fingers will never bleed trying to unwind the love of a father from its violences. That story—glimpsed briefly in shards of someone else's memory, flickering in and out of darkness from someone else's nightmares, or otherwise sharpened into cruel careless jabs and flung at someone else's expense—ends in tragedy, and that tragedy is, in turn, pushed to the ill-lit margins of the page in order to center the insufficient belated guilt of two violently homophobic men who learned to mourn the children they abused before they learned to love them properly.

In that story, queer people are given agency, dimensionality, and ownership of their own pain. In that story, they do not exist solely as some combination of dead body, traumatized victim, and story-driving device. They are not mere collateral damage on the way to something else, something better. In that story, queer trauma isn’t disfigured into a site of heterosexual absolution, where it’s cannibalized into someone else's own personalized catharsis. But it had been a vain hope from the outset, because Razorblade Tears is decidedly not that story, and to quote something a favorite author once said, “I am so, so tired of being eaten.”

So, hey, I guess this one's on me.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
December 19, 2022
They'd killed a man together, so they were more than acquaintances, but he didn't think they were friends."

Two fathers trying to solve the murders of their sons. Lots of pew pew and beating up people... which in theory isn't really my thing for contemporary settings but I loved this.

I like how the author handled the topics of homophobia and racism. I found myself very attached to the characters and wanting them to succeed.

Highly recommend!

*It made it to my best books of 2022: https://youtu.be/WmTndjsYFIc
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
September 11, 2021
"I was thinking about how the good die young," Buddy Lee said.
"I guess that's why we're still here," Ike said as he put the truck in gear.

4 1/2 stars. Ooh, I really liked this one. And when I say "liked", I mean that I cried three times so you know I mean it 😂 There were a couple of small issues/questions (possibly I missed something) that made me not give it 5 stars, but overall this was a gritty, emotionally-gripping read.

Derek and Isaiah were a happily married couple with a young daughter when they were gunned down by a killer who got away. The brutal crime gave the police no leads, nothing to build an investigation on. As the case is put aside by the police, justice looks less and less likely. But not if hardened ex-cons Ike and Buddy Lee have anything to say about it.

Isaiah's father, Ike, and Derek's father, Buddy Lee, never really accepted their gay sons. They took the news hard, got embarrassed, never really mended the relationship, though both thought they might someday. You see, they figured they had time. When that time runs out much sooner than they thought, neither can let it go. They have to find out who hurt their boys.

Okay, I'm tearing up just writing this. It's so sad. Not overly maudlin and manipulative either, which I usually find makes it sadder. It's just a simple truth, a simple but powerful indictment of homophobia: In the end, what the fuck does it matter if your kid is gay? When you could lose them, what the fuck does it matter whom they love?

These two battle-scarred antiheroes are broken by the deaths of the sons they failed to accept, and finding their killer is a final bid for redemption. It's gritty and gory, with plenty of violence and some scenes of torture, but the message is one of love and acceptance.

It is hard not to warm to the pair of them. Ike is probably the more complex and morally grey character, with prison gangs and murder in his past, where Buddy Lee offers some much-needed comic relief:
"I ain't never been in a gay bar before. But it looks like they serve bourbon, so I guess I'll be alright," Buddy Lee said.

They complement each other and have great chemistry. I looked forward to reading more about them every time I picked the book up.

My few small issues/questions are spoilers, so I'll tag them. The first is that I didn't understand why And I also thought it was stupid and quite unbelievable that

These are so minor I don't even care. I'm off to recommend this to everyone.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,705 reviews25k followers
June 13, 2021
This has to be one of my books of the year, SA Cosby's masterful Southern pulsating, brutal, high octane thriller should not be missed. Set in Virginia, this is a story of fatherhood, family, race and homophobia, and an unlikely emotionally tender friendship forged in the fire and all encompassing rage that follows a tragedy accompanied by the prospect of no justice. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins are two ex-cons whose paths would never have crossed if it wasn't for the fact that their gay sons, Isiah and Derek, were married and have been shot dead. Trapped in a world of pain, the two are overwhelmed by the crippling agony of grief, regrets, guilt, and the never ending sea of tears. In the 15 years since Ike was released from Coldwater State Penitentiary, he bucked the trend of recidivism and not received as much as a speeding ticket. He prioritised his family, put his head down, and built up a successful lawn business.

Both fathers had been unable to accept their sons were gay, and neither showed their love for either Isiah or Derek whilst they were alive, and now its all too late. In their search for absolution, they seek to express their love for them now the only way they can, by finding the truth of what happened to them, uncaring if they die in the process. They might be old, they might be on different sides of the race divide, but they are fathers and grandfathers, and burning in their souls is the need for a no holds barred biblical retribution, a primal desire to obliterate to kingdom come all those responsible for killing their sons and nothing is going to stand in their way. It is not easy, not many are willing to talk, as a reporter, Isiah had received death threats, and matters take a deadly turn with a criminal bike gang, political corruption and betrayal, as they race against time to locate a missing young woman who has gone into hiding in fear of her life.

The highlights of Cosby's crime fiction is his stellar characterisation, the development of the flawed Ike and Buddy Lee, there are emotional truths that lend an authenticity to the relationship that builds between them, they learn more about each other and the lives they have lived, becoming like brothers, as they break life long perceptions, coming to confront and understand the depths of homophobia in southern American society. It is a tribute to the quality of the author's writing that you will find that the 'cracked and weathered souls' of Ike and Buddy Lee squeezing their way into your heart. This is an electrifying, raw, and utterly riveting character driven read, brutal and violent, but never less than enthralling, particularly the responses of Ike and Buddy Lee to their sons after their deaths. I think the film rights for this will be picked up incredibly fast. Highly recommended to all crime and thriller fans. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews3,323 followers
July 7, 2021
It would be all too easy to gloss over the title of this novel, but it’s one well worth a pause for reflection. “Razorblade Tears.” Imagine a sadness or grief so palpable that your body’s physical expression of it is harmful. Quite a visual, isn’t it?

On the heels of 2020’s much-lauded Blacktop Wasteland, S.A. Cosby has delivered a gut punch of a novel that’s grit lit at its finest. The story itself seems simple: Two fathers band together to seek vengeance against the people that killed their sons. But it’s not that easy.

One father is Black (Ike), one is white (Buddy Lee). Both are ex-cons, and while one has found redemption in living life on the straight and narrow after release, the other finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. Their paths would never have crossed had their sons not gotten married… to each other. Both fathers turned their backs on them, refusing to accept this same-sex union.

The story begins at the funeral and follows Ike and Buddy Lee as they unravel the mystery of what happened to their boys. Be forewarned though, their vengeance is violent. There are guns and bombs and even machetes - it’s that kind of story. But what elevates this Southern noir tale above gratuitous splatter fiction is the pervasive tone of redemption. One can’t help but feel that the outward rage Ike and Buddy Lee exhibit is a reflection of the inward shame they feel for not accepting their sons when they were alive. Their tears are like razor blades.

I listened to an advance copy of the audiobook courtesy of the author and Macmillan Audio via NetGalley. Narrator Adam Lazarre-White’s gravely voice is well-suited for the gravitas of the story.

The novel has already been optioned by Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman for a film through Paramount Players. I hope they don't screw it up.

Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
August 2, 2023
When Ike Randolph's son, Isiah, is brutally murdered, Ike isn't just heart-broken; he's filled with regrets.

When Isiah came out to him, Ike handled it poorly and never ended up fully accepting Isiah's relationship with his husband, Derek.

Derek's father, Buddy Lee, struggled with his son's sexuality also and knows all too well the regrets Ike is experiencing.

Although Ike and Buddy Lee have never really associated, Buddy Lee seeks Ike out after their son's murders. He wants to get to the bottom of it and thinks that Ike will be able to help him in that regard.

Besides their son's relationship and subsequent deaths, Ike and Buddy Lee have something else in common. They're both ex-cons. A fact that put additional strain on their relationships with their boys.

Initially, Ike is offended that Buddy Lee has come to him in such a way. He feels like Buddy Lee wants to use him on his mission of revenge, but then something happens that Ike can't ignore. He won't see his son's memory scandalized in such a way.

After that, the two men pair up and an investigation of epic proportions ensues.

Ike and Buddy Lee are like the lovable odd couple in every buddy cop movie, except that they're ex-cons. Which personally, I just think added to their depth of character and likability.

Neither one of them is perfect. They've both made a lot of mistakes and done many things they aren't proud of. They're open about that though and I appreciated that about them.

The conversations between the two men, as they get to know one another, were quite moving to read. They had frank discussions involving race and sexuality that really packed a punch, but in a natural way. It never felt overdone, or in your face.

I feel like Cosby did an incredible job of incorporating such social commentary seamlessly into the narrative.

I grew so attached to these characters over the course of the story; not just Ike and Buddy Lee, but side characters such as Ike's wife and a woman named, Tangerine.

As I raced towards the conclusion, I knew this one would break my heart and it did, but in a good way. That doesn't really make sense, does it?

I think if you read the book, it will become clear. While at its heart a story of revenge, this is also a story of hope, personal growth, change and possibly even redemption.

I grew to love these two men, flawed though they were. Cosby's writing is captivating from the very start. This was expertly-crafted for maximum impact. If you don't have this on your TBR yet...

I had the pleasure of Buddy Reading this one with my fabulous niece, Alyssa. We had some great discussions throughout.

I would definitely recommend this one for Book Club, Buddy Reads, or even a solo venture. In summation:

Profile Image for Debra .
2,412 reviews35.2k followers
July 11, 2021
Two Fathers Traveling down a road called Vengeance....

Ike and Buddy Lee are two fathers, both ex-cons, who struggled with their son's sexuality, who ban together to get answers when their sons are brutally murdered. Now struggling with the loss of their sons, their guilt over how they rejected their sons, they go on an action-packed mission seeking answers and retribution.

"There was no path that led anywhere except down a long road as dark as your first night in hell and paved all along the way with bad intentions. They could call what they were seeking justice, but that didn't make it true. It was unquenchable, implacable vengeance."

Talk about putting the pedal to the metal!

As the two men learn more about those in their sons lives and follow clues to what led to their murders, Ike and Buddy Lee learn about themselves and each other as well. Ike is black and Buddy Lee is white. While searching for the truth of what happened to their sons, they also look at the "truths" in their own lives. They reflect on how they were raised, their criminal histories, their regrets, and their grief. Both come to terms with rejecting their sons and how they missed out on their sons lives. They have discussions on race, racism, prejudice and sexuality. With nothing in common but their grief, they will not stop until they get answers and payback.

"I could kill them all a thousand times and it wouldn't even come close to being enough. But it would always be worth it."

These men, these two men! Man, oh man! They had me rooting for them the entire way. They are hardcore, brutal and street smart. They are two of many in this book but even with all the characters, you will not get confused or have difficulty keeping track of everyone.

Cosby starts his book strong and does not let up! If you have not read his work before, I encourage you to do so. He is such a gifted and beautiful writer. He has a gift for writing fully fledged characters. His descriptions transport readers to the character's world, introduces us to their pain, bares their souls and deposits readers in the heart of the action.

To say that I loved this book is an understatement. It deserves all the stars and even that is not enough. I mentioned his writing in the previous paragraph, and I will mention it one last time - it is FANTASTIC! I loved it! It is gritty, raw, and evokes emotion! Whew!

Cosby also touches on serval themes in this book: guilt, loss, sexuality, race, criminals, fatherhood, family, regret, grief, and love. He balances out the violence and heavy topics with bits of humor. I felt so many emotions while reading this gripping book. Will he leave you with razorblade tears falling down your cheeks?

S.A. Cosby came on my radar with Blacktop Wasteland and I jumped on the opportunity to read this book. I must say that Cosby has outdone himself with this book! He completely blew me away! This was a riveting page turner which had me fully engrossed in the book not wanting to put it down!

Gripping, raw, gritty and thought provoking!

Highly recommend.

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

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
December 1, 2021
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best mystery & thriller 2021! WHAT WILL HAPPEN LET’S FIND OUT!

when a book is this perfect a fit to my personal readerheart, i just want to talk about every little bit of it and my enthusiasm tends to become incoherence pretty quickly, so it's probably best if i keep this brief.

i could resort to a glib tagline:

two ex-cons + two murdered sons = so many bodies.

i could let his words speak for themselves and quote from one of the many pages i folded over:

"People like Isiah and Derek and didn't deserve to die the way they did. And the people that killed them don't deserve to live. I can't speak for Buddy Lee, but that's what keeps me going," Ike said.

"Revenge?" Tangerine asked. Ike smiled ruefully.

"No, hate. Folks like to talk about revenge like it's a righteous thing but it's just hate in a nicer suit," Ike said.

but it's not enough. i'll try not to go fangirling off the rails here. suffice it to say that between this, Blacktop Wasteland and My Darkest Prayer, s.a. cosby has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors.

Blacktop Wasteland is the only gearhead novel i will ever love, featuring a reformed getaway driver drawn out of his small business-owning, family man retirement by that proverbial "one last job." it's blisteringly good, and earned him much-deserved critical praise and recognition as an exciting new voice in crime fiction. this one is even better; deploying his taut-but-lyrical prose and exceptional character-work into a much broader story with gritty action sequences for the crime fiction fans, and resonating social themes for people who like to Talk About Books—a perfect balance of genre and literary fiction.

quickplot: ike and buddy lee (the ex-cons from the glib tagline) meet at a funeral, grieving over the freshly-dug graves of their sons. the young men were murdered only a few months after their wedding; a ceremony which neither father attended.

both men have done time, but have left their criminal ways behind them, living the good-citizen life for years. however, as the months pass without any arrests in their sons' case, they decide to take matters into their own hands, falling back pretty hard into their old ways, reaching out to former associates, following leads, and finding their skills of forcible persuasion undiminished.

they may be rusty but they are formidable.

it's a grizzled (and grisly) buddy pic of a novel—two flawed but not unsympathetic antiheroes who share the guilty remorse about being locked away and missing so much of their sons' lives, expressing (and attempting to exorcise) their guilt through some of that old testament salting-the-earth kind of violence.

their shared purpose bonds them in a gruff sort of friendship, calling each other out on their more unsavory behaviors and beliefs—buddy lee's alcoholism and unexamined racism, ike's disgust with his son's homosexuality; his refusal to accept his son when he was alive, punching out his rage that his only child died without a reconciliation.

but in between dropping bodies and putting the hurt on others, there’s time for some personal growth.

this isn’t some feel-good story where men stuck in outmoded and problematic ways of seeing the world are suddenly cured of their bigotry by grief-riddled self-examination—where a black man teaches a redneck that thinking you're not racist because you’re not wearing a pointy white hat doesn't mean you're not still harboring some racist beliefs, or where a man grapples with the fact that being part of a discriminated group doesn’t make you more tolerant and understanding towards other discriminated groups.

but it’s also not not that.

"Feels like we waited pretty late in the day to start learning shit," Buddy Lee said. The bartender brought them two more shots.

"Day ain't over yet," Ike said.

i, for one, learned, in great detail, what a body does to a woodchipper.

gun to my head and i have to say something negative?

the only complaint i can see being made about cosby’s writing is about his tendency to get a little simile-prone:

The wound on his cheek was weeping like a broken-hearted bride.

but while some of them are a scootch too flourishy, others are sheer perfection:

When he hit the ground, his large and small intestines began to unspool like a ribbon of saltwater taffy soaked in merlot.

he is a tremendous writer, and i hope he doesn't get dismissed as "genre" and overlooked come awards time because, like the criminally overlooked* tana french, he's literary AF.

i will leave you with one more simile

Time makes loyalty thin. People shed it like snakeskin.

i've read over 130 books this year, and this one is easily #1.

* by award committees outside of the mystery realm


ALL THE STARS!! s.a. cosby is three-for-three with me. it's gonna be a second before i get a chance to review this one, so just go out and read it for yourselves and then you won't even need me!


i finished all of my july obligations so i am rewarding myself with this before my august obligations begin...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,295 reviews27.9k followers
March 18, 2022
This was incredible, one of my favorite thrillers of the year. This book is full of action, suspense and some really intense gory violence, but it also has some really powerful conversations about race and sexuality. It also has one of the most wholesome duos ever, Buddy and Ike. I genuinely loved reading about these two. This book will stay on my mind for such a long time. 😭 I cried so hard at the end omg.

Here’s the reading vlog where I read it: https://youtu.be/IqiMeVjpQfA
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews586 followers
July 20, 2021

Audiobook…read by Adam Larrare-White (outstanding narration)
…..12 hours long.

An unlikely pair - two ex-cons- two fathers - one white, one black….cling together…with a purpose….
Both face devastating despair—both of their sons, Isiah and Derek—(married to each other), were murdered.

A gripping thriller… one that exposes the full range of human frailty.
Incredible storytelling with tension, conflicts, violence, interesting personalities, racism, sexism, prejudice, class, regret, shame, remorse, guilt, retribution, redemption and love.

If Buddy Lee and Ike Randolph can change — then change is possible for anyone!

5 very strong stars from
both Paul and I. We loved it - had a few ‘pause-chuckles’ together - and great discussions.
This novel was every bit as great as readers have expressed before me/us.

Exquisitely written! This was my first novel by S.A. Cosby….
not my last!
Profile Image for Liz.
2,138 reviews2,748 followers
December 13, 2022
Don’t go into Razorblade Tears expecting some odd buddy story. Yes, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins come off like the odd couple. Ike, formerly known as Riot, served 15 years in prison but has since gone on to own his own landscaping company. Buddy Lee is a drunk. He’s also served some time but he was a minor criminal. What they have in common is that their sons were a couple, with a little girl. And then, they were brutally murdered. Was it because they were an interracial gay couple? When the police deem the investigation cold after two months, the fathers
take up the investigation themselves.
Cosby tackles the two fathers belatedly trying to accept their gay sons. The writing is raw, the scenes darkly atmospheric, the characters are flawed but deep, the tension palpable. This book drew me in immediately and kept me in its thrall. There’s very little down time. I did get a kick at these two “old men” learning how to use google for all sorts of things, and one special effect at the end.
Once again, Cosby has written a heartbreaking, action packed thriller. Five big stars.
Warning, this book contains graphic violence.
While I adored the book, I felt Adam Lazard-White’s narration was less than successful. Many of his voices sounded the same.
My thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Beata.
754 reviews1,153 followers
August 26, 2021
I had a problem with this book. On the one hand, it was a read that kept me entertained regarding the plot, on the other hand, I was suspicious of the two fathers who within a relatively short period of time realize they actually loved their gay sons and accept their marriage. I cannot help it but I appreciate believable characters whose development I can observe, and here it happened just so fast that, not being a psychologist, I refuse to accept. Revenge has always been a grand motif in fiction, but I just feel that in this case there is little substance for it. Besides, it was not difficult to track down who the bad guy is after reading one-third of the novel. A good weekend read but the one that I will forget soon, I am afraid.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
August 20, 2022
oh, wow. okay. this book is all kinds of messed up. its graphic and vulgar and violently showcases just how prevalent hatred is when it comes to revenge. everything about this suits the story to perfection.

aaand i think it may have been a little too hardcore for me... 🙈 haha.

not a bad book by any means. i actually would say its quite exceptional when it comes to themes and characters and life in the south. its just that a lot of the content made it pretty difficult for me to personally have a super positive reading experience.

3 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,205 reviews19.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 12, 2022
DNF at 39%.

Quitting before this fucks up my reading mood.

This started off okay but there’s only so much racist, misogynistic and homophobic remarks I can take. I get that this is part or the point of the story (the realness of it all) but it’s not only that. I was genuinely bored by this. It’s too gritty and raw and violent and the character development is getting lost in it. It reads flat and it’s leaving me hollow.

These characters are shitty parents, possibly people too and I don’t care to go on this revenge journey with them to see whether they redeem themselves or rid themselves of the guilt they feel for their sons death.

They should stew in that guilt for a while. They deserve it.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,182 reviews2,787 followers
July 22, 2021
Ike is a black ex-con who is on the straight and narrow path, living respectably as the owner of a landscaping business. Buddy Lee is white, a racist ex-con who seeks escape in the bottle.

They have little in common except as fathers to their gay sons, Derek and Isaiah, who were married. Their sons were viciously murdered, execution style, leaving behind their 3-year-old daughter Arianna.

When the case grows cold, Ike and Buddy Lee band together to seek vengeance for their sons’ murder. It’s too late to atone for their homophobia and their failures as fathers, but they can avenge their sons’ deaths.

As they travel a path to learn what happened to their sons, they both embark on a journey of introspection and inner growth. They have many discussions about racism, sexuality, prejudice and regrets for the past. Witty dialogue and pithy one-liners balance the heavy themes.

You will need a strong stomach for this one. The violence is graphic, often sickeningly so, and the body count is high. The conversations between Buddy and Ike sometimes sound like a “woke” monologue, and many of the characters are stereotypical, but I appreciated that the author tackled prejudice and LGBQT themes in such a unique way. I loved Ike and Buddy Lee’s redemptive journey from prejudice to love. Ike and Buddy Lee are anti-heroes whose methods can’t be condoned, but whose hearts are in the right places. Finally.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4

*This was a buddy read with Marialyce, and while we both enjoyed the book we both viewed the telling of the story differently. Do check out her review!
For our duo reviews please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

*The audiobook was flawlessly narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.
*I received a digital audio for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
505 reviews1,479 followers
August 2, 2021
There is nothing dull about this story. Everything about it is razor sharp. The characters, the emotions, especially anger, the violence, the memories, the regret, the revenge and even the self hate. A gritty southern noir that cuts.

The friendship that develops is sharp and edgy. Between a black man, Ike, and a white one, Buddy Lee, who become unlikely friends. Both ex-cons trying to stay on the straight and narrow Until their paths cross because their sons, who were married, are murdered. Time for a take down. To take the full shame they each feel for not accepting their kids and who they were. Time to accept what they weren’t able to change and unleash it on those who hurt them.

Beautifully executed in more ways than one, this gritty one has more themes than I can hold in my palm.
Racism, addiction, homophobia, LGBQT, redemption, acceptance.

Lots of gruesome moments with some softer ones. The writing, powerfully authentic. Looking forward to Blacktop Wasteland.
5⭐️ This story and these characters will not be soon forgotten
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,124 reviews3,709 followers
September 18, 2021
Two very different men brought together by the deaths of their sons.

Ike and Buddy Lee’s sons were happily married and raising a beautiful daughter. When the young couple is brutally murdered their fathers are left with profound grief…and guilt. Neither were ever able to accept their son’s lifestyle during their lives, now cut so horribly short. But is it truly too late for them? As they both struggle with the incomprehensible loss, is there hope in all the pain they may come to accept their sons and the love they had for one other?

One thing is certain…Buddy Lee feels the deaths must be avenged! In his mind, the police are doing little to find the killers. The two fathers team up, determined to bring some justice to their son’s death (by whatever means necessary.)

I absolutely loved S.A. Cosby’s previous book Blacktop Wasteland and I was certain I’d be placing this latest release right next to it on my favorites’ shelf. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It just didn’t connect to me the same way.

Perhaps it was the violence. Yes, my fellow readers, the violence was outrageously over the top. (in my humble opinion.) This gal just didn’t have the stomach for it, finding myself skimming over some of those darker scenes in order to make it through the book.

However, on the bright side, I listened to the audio version and felt the narrator did a fabulous job in the telling of the story.

There are so many five-star reviews for this book. So perhaps this book will work out better for you.

A buddy read with Susanne

Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio
Profile Image for Karen.
592 reviews1,196 followers
July 11, 2021
Two southern ex-cons, one black one white… come together to avenge the brutal murder of their sons who were gay and married to each other.
These dudes have turned their life around since being let out of jail.. and they couldn’t be more different.. except in the fact that they both were quite homophobic and didn’t treat their son’s well regarding their sexuality.
When their sons are murdered, and leave behind a three year old daughter, and the police make no headway in the case— they take matters into their own hands.. and it’s not pretty!

Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,540 reviews595 followers
January 8, 2022
4.5 stars. This was a powerful, riveting, ultra-violent book. I found it both enthralling and thought-provoking. This was a pulse-pounding, high-octane thriller. I can't say it was a pleasant reading experience, but I was fully engaged with its flawed characters. I was drawn into the emotions, hearts, and minds of characters of a type unfamiliar to me. It focused on anger, guilt, racism, homophobia, prejudice against transgender people, profound sorrow, and regret. There was hope for retribution and some sort of redemption through bloodshed in acts of revenge. The story was tough and gritty. I felt it would make a terrific action movie if done correctly.

Ike Randolph, a fearsome black ex-convict, spent years in a penitentiary for the one murder for which he was convicted. In the 15 years since his release, he has led an honest, quiet family life in a nice home and built up a successful lawn care business.

Buddy Lee Jenkins would be considered a drunken, redneck racist by some. He lives in a broken-down trailer and drives an old wreck of a truck. We meet his brother, who hates black people. Buddy Lee drinks to excess.

Both men had sons, Isiah Randolph and Derek Jenkins. The two young men came out as gay, were in love, and married. Both men were considered good, upstanding people. They were liked by many, despite a prevailing animosity towards their lifestyle. Neither father accepted that their sons were gay, which drove a wedge in their family relationships. They failed to attend the young men's wedding. Isiah and Derek felt rejected and unloved by their fathers.

They were both shot dead, and the police closed the case as unsolved. Ike and Bobby Lee now feel guilty for how they treated their sons and become further enraged when their graves are desecrated. Both men are determined to destroy everyone who contributed to their sons' deaths. Since they failed to understand their sons during their lifetimes, they are obsessed with their grief, guilt, and tears. What can two elderly grandfathers do to discover and destroy the murderers?

Shortly before the murders, they learn that Isiah and Derek had learned from a gorgeous, intoxicated party girl, Tangerine, that she was having an affair with a prominent, wealthy, unnamed married man. She was living in fear of a deadly biker gang. Their decision to help her may have led to their murders. Ike and Buddy Lee try to find her, but she has gone into hiding. Their attempts to question friends and acquaintances of their sons seems futile.

Soon the elderly grandfathers are in extreme danger from what they discover. What follows are brutal and frightening action scenes. There is violence, injuries, deaths, kidnappings, and explosions after the motives for the deaths of Isiah and Derek become known. This was a chilling, intense, and memorable read.
Profile Image for Thushara .
337 reviews65 followers
November 14, 2022
I feel gaslit by the GoodReads community. Did we read the same book, y'all? 😭😭😭

The powerlifter had sweat stains spreading down from his armpits that vaguely resembled maps of England and Ireland respectively. 😖😖😖

His chest was as tight as virgin pussy.


This book is a combination of bad writing and bad editing.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,478 reviews7,775 followers
August 18, 2021

^^^^Actual footage of me coming here to write this review when my friends’ collective rating is at a freaking 4.86.

Razorblade Tears is the story of Ike and Buddy Lee – polar opposites in all ways aside from the fact that their sons were married to each other and got murdered. When the local yokels seem to wash their hands of the case based on lack of evidence Ike and Buddy Lee decide to take matters into their own hands.

Okay, so herein begins the problem. I have said it before and apparently I will be saying it again. Revenge stories aren’t really my jam. I’m all for a little vigilante justice, but I like it to be real quick and not drawn out as the entire storyline. I’m also not a fan of reading action/fight scenes. In all honesty I’m not a huge fan of watching them in movies either. It just seems like filler to me when it goes on too long. So there’s two things already not working for me when it comes to this book. The whodunit part was okay and there were times I was truly sucked in to the story . . . but then more drawn out fight scenes would burst my reading bubble or even worse . . . .

I’m all for informing the ignorant, but Cosby’s style was sooooooo condescending. And as always the people who really need information like the following examples spoonfed to them most likely wouldn’t ever read this book to begin with . . .

They don’t look gay, Ike thought. As soon as the idea entered his head it seemed like he could hear Isiah’s voice. How exactly did someone look gay? Did he expect them to have tattoos carved into their foreheads that declared their sexuality?

“Wait, so she’s a he?” Buddy Lee asked in a low tone. “No. She is a she who has not had gender-reassignment surgery yet,”

“You called her a she. But she still has a…” Ike said. He let the statement hang in the air. “She is presenting as a woman. She seems to be living as a woman. So she is a woman,”

“Thank you, S.A. Cosby for making me so woke!” said no bigot ever.

So as I said, this was off the charts for all my pals and then there’s me . . . .

The violence didn’t bother me. I simply could not get past the stereotypes with the extra helping of cheese. I own Blacktop Wasteland so eventually I’ll get around to reading that one. Hopefully it will work better for me.
Profile Image for Susan .
444 reviews126 followers
July 20, 2021
Razor Sharp.

A human interest gift wrapped in action.

Buddy Lee is a ne’er do well from a long line of similar folk living in a run down trailer park. His only son Derek broke the mold, became successful, and married Ike’s son.

Ike is now a prosperous company owner with multiple employees after turning his life around. He loves Isiah but their relationship strained because Ike wouldn’t accept his son being gay. If only he could take his objections back...

The two fathers meet at the funeral for their murdered boys. When the police stop investigating a short time later, they decide to avenge their sons and search for those responsible.

Not likely friends otherwise, Ike and Buddy Lee begin awkwardly and forge a tentative camaraderie. The process is both heartfelt and hilarious as they bridge their differences for the common goal.

Ike’s straight man to Buddy Lee’s comic had me in stitches with their conversation. Few subjects were off limits as they verbally jostled and jabbed. At times stinging and at others with humorous affection, their honest repartee was the book’s highlight in my opinion.

Peppered with realistic street slang and served without cheese, I could feel the grief of these two fathers written between succinct prose and yet maintaining the grit. The en pointe writing style fit my tastes perfectly.

My crystal ball says I’ll be watching this as a movie. In the meantime, I’ll search for the author’s other two books because I want to read them too!

Thank you to DeAnn for bringing my attention to this and discussing it with me.

Hardback copy purchased at Barnes and Noble.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
2,028 reviews763 followers
July 21, 2021
My second S.A. Cosby novel and he did it again! Razorblade Tears is probably better than his 2020 novel, Blacktop Wasteland. This is a revenge thriller about two grieving ex-convict fathers (one black and one white) seeking answers after their gay sons were viciously murdered. Great storytelling.

July 21, 2021
It’s hard to go to a place where our senses are not bombarded with violent images. We find it in our movies, our games, our books, and in our lives on a daily basis.

n the book, Razorblade Tears, there is much violence. It's an integral part of the story as two fathers brought together because of the murder of their sons are on a mission to find the people responsible. The sons, Issiah and Dereck, one black the other white are married to one another. The fathers, Ike and Buddy Lee, vow to find the killer/killers and vow to being their own type of justice to the people who so viciously murdered their sons. Both of these men know how to be killers themselves as they both had served time and were no neophytes in the world, they were willing to enter.

The themes of this book dealt with the learning curve the men went through, with little or no acceptance of their sons' sexual choices. It also showed the dichotomy of one man, Ike, seeming to grow out of the environment that put him into prison to a successful business owner. The other father, Buddy Lee, didn’t follow the same trajectory. He crashed and burned so many times, become a drunk living in a rundown trailer. Some might refer to him as white trailer trash. They were people who never would have foreseen a union and friendship form between them and yet given the mission they are on, they found unity in their strength

There is an enormous amount of violence, and the author does revel in its depiction. He also inserts much of the topics of today, homosexuality, transgenderism, and race. It is a sharp look at these topics and the writing he placed upon the pages of this book is shattering, gritty, and in your face. His book is a definite figurative punch to the gut.  I found I could just take so much and needed to put it aside for a while.

I have read the author’s Blacktop Wasteland which was powerful but this one often made me cringe at times with the amount of violence portrayed, and the tone of an eye for an eye was powerfully portrayed.

I did think it was of a high caliber because of the amazing writing, but can see why this book might not be for everyone. However, it is definitely a book of vengeance forgiveness, acceptance, and redemption.
This author is definitely one I would have on my must read list and do recommend this story most highly.

Jan and I read this one together and although our thoughts were sometimes different, we were amazed at the caliber of the author's writing and the powerful punch it delivered.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,635 reviews2,153 followers
May 23, 2021
2.5 stars. Well this was a bummer. I found Cosby's BLACKTOP WASTELAND tropey fun that knew its tropes. He's still good at plotting, the structure here and the raising and raising and raising of the stakes is good, but the emotional arc of this book falls worse than flat. I would warn queer readers in particular that homophobia is integral to the central plot and involved in great detail for the whole book.

The main trope we're working in here is the opposites have to work together buddy crime story. Often you see this with cops, like LETHAL WEAPON, but this time it's too aging ex-cons out for revenge after their sons, a gay married couple, are murdered in what looks like a hit. While both Ike and Buddy Lee ran in bad circles in their younger days, they've both gone straight. Ike is Black, married, and runs a successful landscaping business. Buddy Lee is white, divorced, and drinking himself to death in a trailer. They do not appear to be much of a match at first, Buddy Lee is a casually racist good old boy and Ike does not have much tolerance for his bullshit. But they are able to put that aside because they both have an overwhelming sense of regret that their sons died while they were not on good terms. Both fathers rejected their sons sexuality and neither fully understood how badly they acted until their sons were dead.

I'm not unsympathetic to their plight. And as a premise I'm with it. The problem is that we stay in this exact same emotional state for the entire book. No real progress is made, we hash out the exact same beats over and over again, and instead of rejecting and moving on from harmful homophobia, we just wallow in it for the entire book. They want to be better, but they can't change overnight, that's true, but every single conversation is back to the same things over and over again, their work not just that of revenge but of a kind of talk therapy. Which is fine for them, but for me as a reader it was just a near-constant barrage of homophobic acts and language that I didn't need. I got it. They were bad dads, but it's dwelt on to such an extent and without much of a journey, and includes a violent reaction in a gay bar that I extra didn't need.

I think we are supposed to find these men charming, supposed to see that they mean well and want to be better. And I did. Their dialogue is often hilarious, Cosby has a knack for action scenes and one-liners that should have him scooped up by the screenwriting industry. But once I know how badly these men acted towards their sons, it didn't help me to go back over it so often. It only made it harder for me to read and only made me more resentful of them instead of finding them more relatable. On top of that, the bad guys have to be distinguished from our two good guys by being even worse. There is an awful lot of racist, sexist, and homophobic language here, a whole litany of slurs, just to make it clear how bad the bad guys are. Didn't need that either.

On top of all that, the bones of the plot didn't make much sense to me after the mysteries were all pieced together, and there was even more problematic stuff in those twists. Details after spoiler tag.

Eventually this turned from a read I was enjoying to one I was actively not enjoying, which is always an unfortunate turn of events. I had issues with some problematic sexist elements in Cosby's first novel, MY DARKEST PRAYER, this is more slickly written than that one, but somehow more problematic. I know my experience here won't be everyone's, but for readers that are sensitive to issues of parental rejection and queerphobia, there is just an awful lot of it to digest here and for me it didn't go down pleasantly.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.4k followers
January 9, 2022
S.A. Cosby's new thriller, Razorblade Tears , is a fantastically gripping story of revenge, regret, and transformation.

What is it that makes one author get an enormous amount of hype while another more talented one doesn't get the same recognition? Cosby has written two absolutely electrifying books— Blacktop Wasteland and now this—and if there was any justice, he would be a household name. Maybe this book will do the trick.

“Folks like to talk about revenge like it’s a righteous thing but it’s just hate in a nicer suit.”

Ike is devastated when he learns his son Isiah was murdered along with his white husband, Derek. Ike spent years in prison during his son’s youth, but his inability to accept Isiah’s sexuality and subsequent marriage was his biggest failing and caused the biggest strain in their relationship.

Buddy Lee, Derek’s father, is also an ex-con, and also fought with his son about being gay. Descending from a long line of racist miscreants, Derek was not only gay but married a Black man—double the sin, as it were, in his father's eyes.

But with the police unable to make any headway in their sons’ murders (or do they just not care?), Ike and Buddy Lee reluctantly team up to do some digging. They both know they may cross a line from which they can’t return, but both feel they owe it to their sons to find the person responsible. Along the way, they have to come to terms with their own prejudices and decide whether avenging their sons’ deaths is worth a return to violence.

Powerful, sad, gritty, and utterly searing, Razorblade Tears is easily one of the best books I’ve read all year and it was one of my most anticipated. It’s very violent, so that may be a trigger for some, but it is truly a fantastic book.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.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 B.
120 reviews12.2k followers
August 26, 2021
If you had asked me at the start what I was going to rate this, I would never have guessed 5 stars.
2 middle aged men, one a redneck through and through and the other a black ex-con who made a life for himself post jail- having to put aside their differences to avenge their dead sons?
2 equally ignorant dads in completely different, but similar, ways learning & growing in their journey?
2 dads who refused to understand their sons being married to each other until they realized being gay was eons better than being dead?
Action-packed, vengeance-filled, and with a splash of understanding that they didn’t start with. I loved it. It’s what I’d hope all action stories could do, mix in a little knowledge with all the violence.
Profile Image for Char.
1,680 reviews1,554 followers
July 4, 2021
Fresh off listening to BLACKTOP WASTELAND, I was approved for this audio: RAZORBLADE TEARS. I am struggling to find the words to describe how blown away I am. S. A. Cosby is the real deal, people. The REAL DEAL.

Ike, a black man, and Buddy Lee, a white man, are not friends but they do have something in common: the death of their sons. Both men are guilt ridden and that fuels their need for justice. Together they set out to find out what happened to their boys, and to make it right. Will they be successful? You'll have to read this to find out! (Which you should. Like right now.)

I had no problem picturing the dime-store Sam Elliot of Buddy Lee, or the large, black, muscled build of Riot,(Ike), Randolph. Some of Buddy Lee's observations had me laughing out loud and some of Ike's responses did too. Tackling subjects such as rasicm and LGBTQ rights, and how they fit into current day Virginian life; both the author and the narrator carried it off with aplomb.

I love Cosby's comparisons, in plain language, clear as day. I love his characters, so full of strength and feeling, even if they themselves would never admit it or don't know it. Ike and Buddy Lee's life experiences and personalities were so vivid and real, while being completely different from anything I've ever known; yet they ring true. Those truths are brought home whether or not the reader wants to face them.

S.A. Cosby is a new to me author, but I'm already a huge fan. This man has a style of writing that's both arresting and compelling. It seizes you and once that happens, it's all over for you. You're going to read this, (or listen, as I did), compulsively until you're done. The levels of suspense here reach dangerous-for-your-blood-pressure levels. (Good think I'm on medication already.) The denouement was so tense that I don't want to share one word of it, for fear of spoiling anything.

The narrator, Adam Lazarre-White, does a truly amazing job, especially with the character of Buddy Lee. I freely admit to laughing out loud here and there, usually just before yet another super tense situation took my breath away altogether. Adam's voicing of Buddy Lee charmed me to the point of finding myself wishing to have a drink with the man, if only to experience that charm in person.

RAZORBLADE TEARS, think about that title and what it means. Then go buy this book on Tuesday and see if your thoughts match up to the real thing.

My highest recommendation!

*Thank you to Macmillan Audio, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
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