Razorblade Tears

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Razorblade Tears made the NYT Best Mystery Novels of 2021 list; it's also a 2022 "Best Novel" nominee at the Edgars. So I went to check it out at the Portsmouth Public Library website, and… oh, oh: the "subjects" classification: "Murder -- Fiction | Fathers and sons -- Fiction | Ex-convicts -- Fiction | Gay men -- Fiction". Is this a case where its inclusion on those lists is guided by demands for "diversity"?

Well, I needn't have worried. It's pretty good. Yes, there are occasional lectures about LGBTQ2SIA+/BIPOC acceptance and associated bad examples of bigotry. If you need them, they're there. But they don't get in the way of an exellent yarn.

The main characters are Ike and Buddy Lee, the ex-cons referred to in the Subjects mentioned above. Ike, a black man, has been out of prison for 15 years, in on a manslaughter charge from his gang days; since then, he's built up a successful landscaping business. Buddy Lee is a low-functioning alcoholic, living in a seedy trailer park, in an even-seedier trailer. They are united by dreadful circumstance: each has a gay son, those sons were married, and those sons were also brutally murdered on a local city street. The police aren't making any progress in solving the crime. Despite their different backgrounds, the fathers team up to start investigating on their own. They have an advantage the police don't have: they're totally willing to use violence to get people to talk.

And there's a lot of violence. Ike and Buddy Lee soon find themselves up against a murderous biker gang. They absorb a lot of damage (any of which would have sent me crawling off to the nearest emergency room), but they inflict a lot more.

It's a tad predictable; I saw a lot of the plot twists coming, and I'm usually pretty bad at that. But it's a definite page-turner.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 3:48 PM EDT