You know that old saying, “a leopard cannot change its spots”? Well, that holds true for Beauregard “Bug” Montage. In his youth, he worked as a wheelman; the best damn getaway driver you’ve ever seen. Following the completion of what was believed to be “one last job”, Beauregard set himself up well for the future. He opened a garage, bought a home for his family and had been determined to stay straight and live an honest life.
You want another old saying? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Bug’s carefully built life begins to falter and in order to get things back on track, Bug decides to take up an old acquaintance on a job offer. With reservations, Bug accepts and to borrow another old phrase – “that is when the shit hits the fan.”
Cosby really isn’t doing anything new here but that doesn’t matter – it’s a heist novel where things go off the rails – but what does matter is the writing. Cosby’s prose is slick with style and substance and while Bug is a compelling and complicated character, the supporting cast are classic screw-ups and thugs that work perfectly in adding to the urgency of the plot. It’s hard to believe this is only his second novel, because it seems to me he already has a good grip on how to write a blistering page-turner.
I haven’t read a lot of crime fiction with a backwoods rural setting, so this was like a breath of fresh air in that sense. The complex relationships that come hand-in-hand with living in a small community made the story feel almost claustrophobic. Bug can try all he wants to convince everyone he’s living a good honest life, but when everyone is familiar with who you really are, it isn’t easy to keep up appearances.
Man, this is one hell of a book. I absolutely loved this. Blacktop Wasteland plays out like a high-octane heist flick. Cosby is so good at writing chase scenes that I could picture myself riding shotgun with Bug as he tore through the streets. The pace in which the story moves doesn’t lend itself well to putting the book down for long. Before you know it, it’s back in your hands and you’re ready for more. Myself, I was up well past midnight last night desperate to know how it ended. With twists and turns a plenty, Cosby has written a tense, explosive crime novel in Blacktop Wasteland.