Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner • New York Times Notable Book • NPR’s Best Books of the Year • BookPage’s #1 Mystery and Suspense of the Year • Sun Sentinel’s #1 Best Mystery of the Year
“I loved Blacktop Wasteland...[A] fast-paced, bareknuckle thriller.” -Stephen King
“A roaring, full-throttle thriller, crackling with tension and charm.” -The New York Times Book Review
"One of the year's strongest novels." -Sun Sentinel
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Beauregard “Bug” Montage has a normal life, raising a family and running a car repair shop. Precious few folks know that Bug used to be a getaway driver, speeding notorious criminals away from their heists. He’s gone straight—but after a stroke of bad luck, the past comes calling. Reading this high-octane thrill ride is as exciting as a car chase through downtown streets. Bug is both sympathetic and ruthless, troubled and caring—basically, the perfect antihero. Author S. A. Cosby isn’t afraid to confront the racial issues Bug faces as a Black man in the South and how those experiences have affected his entire family’s relationship to crime. Whether you want to delve into the economic collapse of small-town Appalachia, a country’s mythic love of the automobile, or just a whiplash-paced crime novel, Blacktop Wasteland has what you’re craving.
Former wheelman Beauregard "Bug" Montage, the hero of this high-octane neo-noir thriller set in 2012 Virginia from Cosby (My Darkest Prayer), has attempted to put his criminal past behind him, and is now married with children and the owner of his own auto shop. But as his financial woes pile up his business is failing, his terminally ill mother is being kicked out of her nursing home, his oldest child is almost in college he's forced to take a potentially lucrative job as a getaway driver in a jewelry heist with people he doesn't trust. Somewhat predictably, the robbery goes wrong, and Bug is soon fighting for not only his own life but also the lives of his wife and children. The example of his own failed father dogs him throughout. 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.
On one hand, for the writing style, it was three stars for me…at best. Enough similes (comparisons using the words “like” or “as”) to fill a small house, a couple of which were really cringe worthy. On the other hand, the pacing, the action scene descriptions and character development made it a worthwhile read and a four star rating which was to give it the benefit of a doubt. Not exactly high level reading, but original enough. A peek at lifestyles that I think few if any of the book’s readers would ever experience or even want to.
Excellent! I’m so excited to read the next one…
And really hope HBO makes this into a limited series
Powerful & Thought-Provoking Crime Novel!
Does a son have to repeat his father’s transgressions and life choices?
It seemed like S.A. Cosby was trying to answer that question in his thrilling third novel, Blacktop Wasteland. I have seen this novel posted on my Instagram feed recently and several Goodreads friends posted about the book and I had to read it.
Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an excellent mechanic, devoted husband and father. He has tried to leave the life of street racing and crime behind. However, his auto mechanic shop direly needs business and Bug’s resources have hit the breaking point. He takes part in one more robbery to steal diamonds from a local jewelry store. In his desperate situation, Bug sees this opportunity as his only way out. However, easy money never comes easily and Bug learns the painful lesson that a life of crime never solves your problems.
Bug reconnects with a former associate that tells him the robbery of a jewelry store will be quick, easy, and foolproof. Of course, nothing is foolproof, and the heist gets the attention of a local criminal kingpin and Bug may have crossed paths with the wrong person. Bug’s family is pulled into his last excursion of crime and it nearly costs him everything. He hatches a plan to save his family and gets revenge on everyone that pulled him back into that life.
It has been a long time since I read a book that gave me holy s-word moments. Cosby’s fast-paced “southern noir” thriller kept me turning pages and got me invested in Bug’s journey out of darkness. Also, I appreciated how he brought up Bug’s connection to his father and how dangerous idolatry can become.
Blacktop Wasteland joins my favorite reads list of 2021 and Cosby’s visceral writing had me seeing Ving Rhames or Don Cheadle as Beauregard “Bug” Montage in a movie adapted from the novel. I’m looking forward to reading more of Cosby’s work and highly recommend this powerful, ultraviolent novel.