All the Sinners Bleed

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I really liked two previously-read S. A. Cosby novels, Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears. This is, unsurprisingly, another page turner.

The protagonist is Titus Crown, Black sheriff of a Virginia county where a lot of white residents haven't gotten over the results of the Civil War. He's returned home to his widower father and sorta-criminal brother after a promising FBI career ended in bloody disaster. (We don't get the gory details on that right away.)

Titus's job is tough enough, with all the simmering racial resentment. But then things get very bad, when what starts out as one of those school shootings turns out to be something else entirely: a falling-out between two participants in serial killing, involving the torture and murder of Black children. Those two are dead by page 20, but that leaves the "Lone Wolf", the dangerous evil mastermind behind the killings. Who happens to enjoy taunting Titus, and threatening his loved ones.

So it's pretty good. Cosby's portrayal of the local white racists lacks any complexity or sympathy, and verges on the cartoonish. If they had mustaches, they'd be twirling them. At one point, Titus, while verbally jousting with one of them, refers approvingly to the "white folks who don't carry water for Robert E. Lee or worship at the shrine of Ronald Reagan". Hey, S. A., I liked Reagan a lot, and I don't appreciate being lumped in with Confederacy-lovers.