A New York Times Notable Books of 2020
“I loved Blacktop Wasteland...[A] fast-paced, bareknuckle thriller.” -Stephen King
"One of the year's strongest novels. Cosby invests Blacktop Wasteland with emotion while delivering a solid thriller." -Sun Sentinel
“A fast-paced, fresh take on noir that tears through the underbelly of Virginia.” -New York Times
A husband, a father, a son, a business owner...And the best getaway driver east of the Mississippi.
Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.
He thought he'd left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can't-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver's seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.
Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland...or die trying.
Like Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.
About the Author
S. A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. He won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story for "The Grass Beneath My Feet", and his previous books include Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. He resides in Gloucester, Virginia. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.
New York Times Notable Book • NPR’s Best Books of 2020 • BookPage’s #1 Mystery and Suspense of 2020 • Sun Sentinel’s #1 Best Mystery of 2020 • Library Journal Best Crime Fiction for 2020 • Suspense Magazine Best of 2020 • The Guardian’s Best Crime & Thriller Novels of 2020 • BookRiot’s Best Books of 2020 • Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist • Chicago Public Library’s Best Books of 2020 • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2020 • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2020 • CrimeReads The Best Novels of 2020
“A fast-paced, fresh take on noir that tears through the underbelly of Virginia.”
—New York Times
"One of the year's strongest novels. The noir story quickly accelerates and doesn’t lose speed until it careens to its finale. It’s a look at race, responsibility, parenthood and identity via pin-perfect characters with realistic motives. Cosby invests Blacktop Wasteland with emotion while delivering a solid thriller."
“I loved Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby. The epigram tells you all you need to know about this fast-paced, bareknuckle thriller: 'Drive it like you stole it.'”
“Violence-tinged heists, muscle cars, and dead-end poverty in America generate the full-on action and evocative atmosphere in this beautifully wrought tale.”
“The year’s most celebrated crime novel, and with good reason. It’s a soaring, deeply felt, deeply propulsive tale written by an author coming into his full powers…Cosby writes beautifully of the sensations and memories that drive Bug through the night and down the empty roads toward his old life. Dread and excitement combine to create a unique sense of atmosphere, one that will keep readers pushing ahead toward a genuinely powerful conclusion.”
—CrimeReads The Best Novels of 2020
“Running through this turbocharged heist plot (think Richard Stark’s Parker novels) is a beautifully crafted and deeply poignant drama (think Walter Mosley’s Fearless Jones’ novels). This book is a stunner.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2020
“The noir story brilliantly looks at race, responsibility, parenthood and identity via pin-perfect characters with realistic motives.”
—Sun Sentinel, The Best Mystery Books of 2020, #1
“Cosby never misses a note in this high-energy read...A superb work of crime fiction, uncompromisingly noir but deeply human, too, much like Lou Berney's November Road (2018).”
—Booklist, starred review
“Blacktop Wasteland is an urgent, timely, pitch-perfect jolt of American noir. S. A. Cosby is a welcome, refreshing new voice in crime literature.”
—Dennis Lehane, bestselling author of Since We Fell and Mystic River
“Diamonds and fast cars, trailer park dreams and late night illegal street racing, S. A. Cosby reinvents the American crime novel. Black and white with bills unpaid and no exit in sight, his characters feel the pull of family and swagger with the melancholy ache of wanting to be someone. Blacktop Wasteland thrums and races—it’s an intoxicating thrill of a ride.”
—Walter Mosley, bestselling author of Trouble Is What I Do
“Sensationally good—new, fresh, real, authentic, twisty, with characters and dilemmas that will break your heart. More than recommended.”
—Lee Child, bestselling author of Blue Moon
“Cosby’s lightning-bright prose powers this magnificent tale of a heist gone wrong and a weary man’s attempts to free himself from his past.”
—Bookpage, Best Books of 2020: Mystery & Suspense, #1 pick
“For fans of: Bullitt, The Fast and the Furious and gritty Elmore Leonard-style noir…[Cosby] never lets up on the gas. The result is a high-octane, white-knuckle thriller that will have readers whipping through the pages at breakneck speed…Cosby’s tightfisted prose fuels this story with heart-pumping (and often brutal) action that begs to be adapted for the big screen but never loses its compassionate edge.”
“High-octane neo-noir thriller…The gritty, brutal narrative is complemented by the author’s sublime use of sensory description and regional imagery. In addition, the epic, jaw-dropping chase sequences that figure prominently are reason alone to read this pedal-to-the-metal but profoundly sorrowful novel. Cosby is definitely a writer to watch.”
"Beautifully wrought and worthy of envy...Call shotgun, and then buckle up. Blacktop Wasteland is a ride that will stick with you long after the engine has cooled."
"We're in Elmore Leonard land…Bug's got a conscience not typical of the thriller genre, but other than that, this novel recalls almost perfectly the classic heist thriller in the vein of Richard Stark's "Parker" novels. It'll go like hot cakes.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Unforgettable…Cosby never takes his foot off the accelerator. He's a natural storyteller and a nimble writer. And Cosby works the magic performed by only the best noir scribes: somehow he gets readers to root for the protagonist as he commits a crime.”
—Shelf Awareness, starred review
“It’s fitting Blacktop Wasteland opens with a drag race. This is the literary equivalent of a muscle car—sleek, a little dangerous, and when it kicks into gear, you hold on for dear life. Lucky for you, Cosby is an expert wheelman.”
—Rob Hart, bestselling author of The Warehouse
“Every once in a while a writer comes along with an incredible voice. Think Elmore Leonard, or Chester Himes. With Blacktop Wasteland, add S. A. Cosby to that list.”
—Steve Cavanagh, bestselling author of Thirteen
“Powerful, gritty, and lyrical, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is the unflinching portrayal of a man who’s deeply aware he needs to make a better life for himself and his family, but can’t — or won’t. This story is an emotional gut punch, and you’ll find yourself rooting for Beauregard while he’s ripping your heart out. Cosby is a mesmerizing new voice in crime fiction you won’t soon forget. This is literary noir at its finest.”
—Jennifer Hillier, award-winning author of Jar of Hearts and Little Secrets
“With Blacktop Wasteland, Anthony award-winning author S. A. Cosby cements his position as one of the leading crime fiction voices of his generation. The story crackles with a dynamically flawed main character, vivid description, unexpected reveals and dialogue so real you'd swear you were eavesdropping. I couldn't wait to finish yet never wanted the book to end at the same time. There's no doubt that Cosby is an authentic and much needed voice in today's crime fiction.”
—Kellye Garrett, Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty award-winning author of The Detective by Day series
“This book shook me in the best way possible. Cosby’s gritty, powerhouse novel evokes some of the modern masters - Mosley, Pelecanos, and Lehane - with a tone and vibe that is wholly unique. Epic but also grounded and painfully relevant, Blacktop Wasteland is a crime novel for today, and S. A. Cosby is a writer we’ll be hearing from for quite some time. I loved this book.”
—Alex Segura, acclaimed author of Blackout and Miami Midnight
“Blacktop Wasteland is a guaranteed thriller-of-the-year with muscle and heart and characters who will linger long after the last page is read. S.A. Cosby writes with grit and grace. Do not miss this one.”
—Michael Koryta, bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
“There is a sweet spot in a vehicle, whether it’s a car or a book, a perfect point of harmony between torque and horsepower or character and plot—Blacktop Wasteland is that sweet spot. S. A. Cosby’s new novel reverberates with a throaty roar, pegging the needles with a welcomed strip of rubber laid down in a silk-scarf, lace-backed driving glove mystery world.”
—Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries
“Buckle up. S. A. Cosby is about to take you on a high-speed spin through the rural black south. Muscle cars, backroads racing, double crossing deals and that elusive big score. Red Hill County is my kind of place!”
—Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Revelators
“Blacktop Wasteland will let the world at large in on what the crime fiction underworld already knows: S. A. Cosby is a major, original talent. Searing, twisted and jaggedly human, this Southern noir heist novel leaves scars.”
—Jordan Harper, Edgar Award winning author of She Rides Shotgun
"A roaring, full-throttle thriller, crackling with tension and charm...Cosby immediately displays a talent for well-tuned action, raising our heart rates and filling our nostrils with odors of gun smoke and burned rubber. But the real draw here is his evocative depiction of rural Virginia and its denizens. Cosby's voice is distinctive, and he plays a sharp-tongued Virgil as we descend into the Hades of bucolic poverty."
—The New York Times Book Review
"A classic, character-driven heist tale that inhabits that world, but delivers heart-pounding entertainment."