Cosby’s rise through the crime fiction firmament has been meteoric. Three years ago, he was virtually unknown, working for his wife’s Virginia funeral parlor and dreaming of literary notice. Now, after two award-winning releases — Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears — he’s just a couple of rooms shy of being a household name, his prose celebrated for its poetic undertones, the endemic violence of his plots accepted as essential to portraying the bigotry that still plagues Southern rural America.
All the Sinners Bleed (Flatiron), by turns gritty and heartbreaking, seems destined to further burnish his rep. It finds Titus Crown, a former FBI agent and now the first Black sheriff of Charon County, Virginia, being summoned to the all-too-familiar scene of a school shooting. Dead are a white history teacher and a troubled Black teenager, the latter shot by Titus’ deputies. Following up, the sheriff discovers both victims were implicated in a succession of crimes against Black children, and that there’s another perpetrator still at large. In a community divided by race and religion, Titus must straddle multiple chasms of distrust if he’s to restore some pretense of peace. ◊