BLOOD AT THE ROOT: S.A. COSBY'S ALL THE SINNERS BLEED
For the past few years S.A. Cosby has been putting his mark on crime fiction. He gave an African American identity to rural noir with tight, bad ass tales that delve into race and male identity. His fourth book, All The Sinners Bleed, goes bigger and deeper with these subjects and more.
At the center of the story is Titus Crown, the first black sheriff in the Virginia county of Charon. Things are heating up with talk of removing confederate staturs he finds himself in the middle of. Then a shooting at the high school occurs.
The perpetrator is shot down, but not before a beloved teacher is murdered. As Titus and his deputies search for a motive, they discover the two were connected to a rash of killings and another killer is still out there in Charon. Titus' investigation makes waves in the town and the further he goes, the more directly he looks into the abyss of evil.
Cosby keeps the usual tightness of plot, takes utilizes the police procedural element to expand the scope of his storytelling. The template allows him to keep Titus point of view while he engages with Charon's citizens, creating a story as much about the setting as the protagonist. He establishes it as a character in the prologue, giving its history and belief in how it may be cursed. One feels like reading the flip side of Craig Johnson's books about Sheriff Walt Longmire and his Absoroka County.
All The Sinner's Bleed proves to be a bold and triumphant next step for S.A. Cosby. He paints a town in crisis with humor, humanity, and horror. I know the author has other places to go and stories to write, but I hope he occasionally pops back into Charon County and checks up on the sheriff.