Source : Review copy
Publication: 6 December 2022 from Headline
Narration: Adam Lazarre-White
Listening time: 9 hours and 23 minutes
“I handle the bodies.”
Whether it’s working at his cousin’s funeral home or tossing around the local riffraff at his favorite bar, Nathan Waymaker is a man who knows how to handle the bodies. A former marine and sheriff’s deputy, Nathan has built a reputation in his small Southern town as a man who can help when all other avenues have been exhausted. When a beloved local minister is found dead, his parishioners ask Nathan to make sure the death isn’t swept under the rug.
What starts out as an easy payday soon descends into a maze of mayhem filled with wannabe gangsters, vicious crime lords, porn stars, crooked police officers, and a particularly treacherous preacher and his mysterious wife. Nathan must use all his varied skills and some of his wit to navigate the murky waters of small town corruption even as dark secrets of his own threaten to come to the surface.
Let me begin, unusually, with the narrator. I am smitten with Adam Lazarre-White’s voice, which is perfect for the narration of this book. Dark, gravelly, it instantly conjures up an image of Nathan Waymaker that sits perfectly with the story. Nathan Waymaker works at his cousin’s funeral home, so he is no stranger to death. A former Marine, he is also an ex-cop still burning from the injustice he knows was perpetrated when the local cops in the Sherriff’s department conveniently ‘lost’ the evidence that would have convicted the drunk driver who killed his parents.
I’m a huge fan of S.A. Cosby’s writing and this is the first book that he published, now re-issued after the runaway success of both Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears. I was so keen to read this and I wasn’t disappointed. Cosby’s writing is rich and authentic. He understands poverty and the travails of the working classes and couples this with a real feel for dialogue and a brilliant look at the way some religious proponents exploit the poorest in society. It’s raw and often violent but that enhances the power of this writing and at is gripping.
Waymaker is tasked by two religious parishioners to ask the police some questions about the death of their Pastor. With no love lost between Nathan and his former colleagues, he knows it’s not the easiest of asks, but how hard can it be to earn £2k just for asking questions?
Soon though, Nathan is up to his neck in gangsters but finds an unlikely ally in the daughter of the deceased who is now a well-known porn star and who has some enlightening information to share about her father.
In this dark Southern tale the atmosphere is claustrophobic and redolent with danger. Waymaker and his friend Skunk have to be prepared to take on the deadliest enemies and expose the dark underbelly of some of the County’s most respected religious leaders.
Cosby creates a compelling, violent scenario which plumbs the depth of sexual practices and exposes the moral hypocrisy surrounding these religious leaders. It’s dark, brutal and compelling. Brilliant writing, superb narration. I was transfixed.
S. A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. He won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story for “The Grass Beneath My Feet”, and his previous books include Brotherhood of the Blade, Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears. He resides in Gloucester, Virginia. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.