Books

THRILLERS

THRILLERS

RAZORBLADE TEARS by S. A. Cosby (Headline £18.99, 336 pp)

RAZORBLADE TEARS   

by S. A. Cosby (Headline £18.99, 336 pp)   

This is as close to a thriller masterpiece as it is possible to get, and a worthy successor to Cosby’s stunning debut, Blacktop Wasteland.

Ike Randolph is a black ex-con, who has been putting his life in order over the past 15 years when he learns that both his son, Isiah, and Isiah’s white husband, Derek, have been executed by thugs —leaving the couple’s toddler daughter an orphan.

Neither Ike nor Derek’s father Buddy Lee Jenkins, another ex-con, were ever entirely happy with their sons’ sexuality — both men privately shunned it — but they loved their boys. So they set out to avenge the murders by tracking down the killers, using skills from their criminal past.

An unflinching examination of American attitudes to racial prejudice, homophobia and transgender issues, all told with a clear-eyed, searing humanity, it is a tale of grief and redemption, but ends with a heartbreaking poignancy that brings tears to the eyes.

RED TRAITOR 

by Owen Matthews (Bantam £16.99, 336 pp) 

Based in part on a true story, Matthews’s latest spy thriller is set during the lead up to the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

KGB Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vasin is charged with finding the long-rumoured American spy embedded in the highest reaches of the Kremlin, only to find himself struggling with a power battle between two secretive arms of the Russian State.

Meanwhile, four Soviet submarines — each carrying one tactical ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead — are despatched to the Caribbean as the U.S. blockades Cuba, where the Kremlin has deployed short-range nuclear weapons just 90 miles from the American coast.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Russian President Nikita Khrushchev are locked in a stand-off while the fate of the world may hang on a lone Russian naval officer 100m beneath the waves.

This is Robert Harris storytelling territory and is told with equal panache and authenticity. There could be no higher praise.

DAMAGE by Caitlin Wahrer (Michael Joseph £14.99, 400 pp)

DAMAGE  

by Caitlin Wahrer (Michael Joseph £14.99, 400 pp)

This sensational debut from an American attorney focuses on a family tragedy that grips two brothers. 

Tony Hall has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick, and so is shocked to be called to the hospital one night where his brother is lying battered and bruised after a brutal sexual assault, which he can remember nothing about.

Nick sets out to find the man who did this to his beloved sibling, which worries Nick’s lawyer wife Julia, as she fears he may take justice into his own hands. Nick tracks down the attacker, who is out on bail, and threatens him, only for Detective John Rice to intervene.

He’s investigating the assault and suspects that it’s far more complicated than meets the eye — and so it turns out. The tension escalates steadily, making each page more compelling than the last.

This is ‘catch in the throat’ storytelling that Wahrer makes look disarmingly easy and it leads to not one but two startling final twists.

Unputdownable.

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