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Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears


Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to Razorblade Tears!

by S.A. Cosby

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Quick take

Two dads with a very particular set of skills attempt to solve the mystery of their sons' gruesome deaths.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Acclaim

    Critically acclaimed

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence


A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change - and maybe even redemption.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Razorblade Tears.
Razorblade Tears


Ike tried to remember a time when men with badges coming to his door early in the morning brought anything other than heartache and misery, but try as he might, nothing came to mind.

The two men stood side by side on the small concrete landing of his front step with their hands on their belts near their badges and their guns. The morning sun made the badges glimmer like gold nuggets. The two cops were a study in contrast. One was a tall but wiry Asian man. He was all sharp angles and hard edges. The other, a florid-faced white man, was built like a powerlifter with a massive head sitting atop a wide neck. They both wore white dress shirts with clip-on ties. The powerlifter had sweat stains spreading down from his armpits that vaguely resembled maps of England and Ireland respectively.

Ike’s queasy stomach began to do somersaults. He was fifteen years removed from Coldwater State Penitentiary. He had bucked the recidivism statistics ever since he’d walked out of that festering wound. Not so much as a speeding ticket in all those years. Yet here he was with his tongue dry and the back of his throat burning as the two cops stared down at him. It was bad enough being a Black man in the good ol’ US of A and talking to the cops. You always felt like you were on the edge of some imaginary precipice during any interaction with an officer of the law. If you were an ex-con, it felt like the precipice was covered in bacon grease.

“Yes?” Ike said.

“Sir, I’m Detective LaPlata. This is my partner, Detective Robbins. May we come in?”

“What for?” Ike asked. LaPlata sighed. It came out low and long like the bottom note in a blues song. Ike tensed. LaPlata glanced at Robbins. Robbins shrugged. LaPlata’s head dipped down, then he raised it again. Ike had learned to pick up on body language when he was inside. There was no aggression in their stances. At least not any more than what most cops exuded on a normal twelve-hour shift. The way LaPlata’s head had dropped was almost . . . sad.

“Do you have a son named Isiah Randolph?” he said finally.

That was when he knew. He knew it like he knew when a fight was about to break out in the yard. Like he knew when a crackhead was going to try to stab him for a bag back in the day. Like he knew, just knew in his gut, that his homeboy Luther had seen his last sunset that night he’d gone home with that girl from the Satellite Bar.

It was like a sixth sense. A preternatural ability to sense a tragedy seconds before it became a reality.

“What’s happened to my son, Detective LaPlata?” Ike asked, already knowing the answer. Knowing it in his bones. Knowing his life would never be the same.

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Why I love it

If you loved S.A. Cosby’s last novel, Blacktop Wasteland, as much as I did, then you know that the bar was set pretty high for the next book. But I’m delighted to share that Razorblade Tears is even better, if such a thing is possible! I shut out the entire world for two days while reading, as I found it impossible to tear myself away from this amazing story. You’ll love the action in the book, but it’s the characters’ personal journeys that will stay with you long after you put it down.

Razorblade Tears is a vivid and heart-pounding ride into the lives of two fathers, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee, who have suffered unspeakable losses: Their sons—married to each other—have been brutally murdered. In the midst of their devastation, they join forces to learn who committed the horrific crimes. Both fathers have a history of being on the wrong side of the law—but as they set out on a blood-soaked journey of revenge, they’re forced to examine their own prejudices before they can pursue justice for their boys.

I loved everything about this brilliant, unforgettable book. The plot moves at a breakneck pace, the characters jump right off the page, and the setting evokes the lushness of rural Virginia. But it’s the heart and soul of Razorblade Tears that moved me the most. This is a crime noir novel that not only entertains but carries a profound and affecting message about life in modern America.

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Member ratings (30,425)

  • Liz M.

    Monroe Township, NJ

    Easily one of my favorite books of all time! Full of mystery, action, thrill, and humor. The plot was gripping, every character was meaningful, and their conversations were even more so. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Tess B.

    Oceanside, CA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. 2 fathers coming together for their sons as their love knows no bounds! This book had me hooked from page 1. Would recommend to anyone looking for a heart warming, action packed read!

  • Hailey T.

    Boulder, CO

    Amazing read! I was sucked into this story. I loved that complex & unconventional lead characters — I was rooting for them the whole time! I can see why this was a BOTY finalist! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5.

  • Daphne W.

    Interlachen, FL

    I love the story plot and the characters! I also love how the fathers are more than willing to make amends with themselves and admit their mistakes. Can't wait to read more from this author!????????????❤️❤️

  • Nicole J.

    Ledyard, CT

    Wow. I didn’t think I’d end up loving this book the way that I do after finishing it. It’s beautifully written and takes on some very tough topics. I’m going to definitely read the author’s 1st novel!

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