I waited a long time on the library ebook hold to finally get Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby. I’m not even sure why I put it on hold. It must have come up in one of the reading blogs that I get each day. But then I noticed it was one of Goodreads’ finalists for best mystery/thriller book of the year and I became more interested.
Book reviewers call this book a thriller. I wouldn’t, however, want to put off people who aren’t into books that keep you up at night. Unless you want to be kept up at night reading this book. Because Blacktop Wasteland is so much more than an exciting thriller. It is the story of being Black and poor in the southern United States, and how difficult it is to reach the American Dream that we all hope for.
Beauregard Montage is known throughout the southeastern United States as the best getaway driver around. He knows everything about cars, and can drive like an Indie car driver, cleverly escaping cops.
But now he is married and has children and obligations. He wants to play it straight. He owns a car repair shop that is barely scraping by, and he is unable to keep up with his financial needs. His mother is in a nursing home. He has a family to feed. He wants to send his daughter to college and get her away from the abject poverty and racism they face each day in the small Mississippi town in which they live.
He gives in to the temptation offered by someone still in “the life.” He agrees to be the wheelman for one last robbery — that of a jewelry store getting a shipment of priceless diamonds.
Unfortunately, there are things that Beauregard doesn’t know about this store and this diamond shipment. The result is a complicated mess that changes his life altogether and makes him realize just how hard it is to go straight.
Blacktop Wasteland is dark and gritty. But Cosby’s story made me want to pick up the book to read even in the middle of the night. In the midst of what is happening today in the United States, it hits very close to home.
Blacktop Wasteland might end up being my favorite book of 2020.