Created by S.A. Crosby
“I handle the bodies.”
It seems like only yesterday (well, 2020) that crime writer S.A. Crosby appeared, apparently out of nowhere, to set the world aflame with Blacktop Wasteland, a hard-as-nails down-and-dirty bestseller about street racers, trailer parks and stolen diamonds, set in the dead-end boonies of Mississippi where nobody seems to be going anywhere. It took off like a friggin’ rocket, drawing hosannahs and high-fives from the likes of the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, NPR, Stephen King, the Sun Sentinel, the Boston Globe, CrimeReads, Dennis Lehane, Booklist, Walter Mosley, Lee Child and about a zillion other publications and pundits. And the world didn’t skimp on awards, either. Blacktop Wasteland, was Amazon’s #1 Mystery and Thriller of the Year and #3 Best Book of 2020 overall, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, the winner of the LA Times Book Award for Mystery or Thrillers, a Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist, the winner of the ITW Award for Best Hardcover, the Macavity for Best Novel of the Year, the Anthony, and a finalist for the CWA Golden Dagger. The wokies loved it and the fedora fetishists loved it.
But Cosby was no overnight sensation, and anyone paying attention might have seen that Cosby was gonna be a wheel someday. He’d been coughing out short stories regularly for years, mostly sharp little crime and noir yarns for places like Thuglit and Crime Syndication, and the word was starting to spread. And then his first novel, My Darkest Prayer, was released by Austin A. Camacho’s scrappy little indy Intrigue Press in 2019.
It featured ex-Marine, once-upon-a-time Sheriff’s deputy and Marine and current barroom brawler NATHAN WAYMAKER. He works for his cousin at the Walter T. Blackmon Funeral Home in Queen County, Virginia–when he’s not trying to find a new way to not get into trouble.
Suffice it to say he does not go gentle… he’s a big bruiser with more than a few issues, and seeing as how his mother was black and his dad was white, he has little patience for either racists or red necks… and, well, it’s Mississippi.
Still, he gets along with most folks in town, affable and always willing to help, and so he’s built a rep among the locals “as a man you can go to for help when all other avenues (ie: the local law) have been exhausted.”
For a small consideration, of course.
So… he’s basically an unlicensed P.I., only taking cases he feels like. It helps that he’s smart enough and tough enough (the man can fight) to get things done, and he’s funny and witty enough (the book’s narrated in first person,and peppered with wise cracks, observations and similes that snap, crackle and pop) to make following him a hoot.
And the “case” he’s working is a good one. A couple of local parishioners ask him to look into the murder of the Reverend Esau Watkins, a shady preacher right pout of a Chester Himes novel, which the local cops don’t seem to be in any hurry to investigate. It strikes a chord with Nathan, who has his own bones to pick with the sheriff’s department—which he once worked for. Soon enough, Nathan’s bumping up against wannabe thugs, real thugs, porn stars, barflies, undertakers, crooked police officers and enough Southern-fried miscreants to fill a Drive-By Truckers album.
It’s a rough but ready debut, a speed demon (it clocks in at less than 230 pages) hinting at what was soon to come, and Cosby mines the rural South vein with a keen eye and a wary affection seen far too rarelyt in the genre.
Naturally, with Cosy’s rising star status, it’s no surprise My Darkest Prayer was reprinted in 2022, this time by publishing bigshots Flatiron Press–who will hopefully do a little editorial polishing.
But read this one, in whatever form you can. It’s got a kick to it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
S.A Cosby is a New York Times national best selling award-winning author from Southeastern Virginia. His novels include My Darkest Prayer, Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears, while his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His short story “Slant-Six” was selected as a Distinguished Story in Best American Mystery Stories for 2016, and “The Grass Beneath My Feet” won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.