The Way We Came In by Kelby Losack
The Way We Came In takes an old framework: low level criminals, trying to survive, pull a job, things go sideways, and juices it with energy, style, and an easily recognizable voice.
At 63 pages, this is a short work. I view it as partly a kind of proof of concept book. Losack is here making his mark and he’s got something to say and something to contribute. And partly, a transitional work as Losack moves towards his next stage. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Bottom line is that this is an interesting book and The Way We Came In is crime fiction for the next generation.
I won’t sit here and tell you that I’ve read every book by John Hornor Jacobs. I’ve been a fan since his Southern Gods came out and I know I still have a couple of titles to catch up on. I only mention this to say that I’m no expert on his growth as an author but I am certainly a fan.
Yet, I was surprised when I read The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky. The writing, often at a sentence level, is clear and beautiful.
The sense of place is so strong that you immediately feel the setting and surroundings that these characters inhabit. This is coupled with a sense of longing and wanting to return home that oozes from the characters. It makes for a heady mix. I do not know what it is to feel a part of a diaspora, but some of what was captured here was a feeling of being unmoored from everything and having a part of yourself missing with nothing being able to fill the void. This is a book that beautifully hurts.
This is also a story of subtle (at first) cosmic horror, war torn countries, refugees, South American countries and their politics.
If you haven’t read John Hornor Jacobs, you really need to fix that.
My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby
Nathan Waymaker, the main character in Shawn Cosby’s My Darkest Prayer, is a character type that, quite frankly, isn’t really represented as much (and too well) in crime fiction. If at all.
Rural crime fiction under serves the African American population that live in rural areas, especially in the south. Dave Robicheaux has some acquaintances in the black neighborhoods but those characters aren’t given agency. Hap & Leonard show these characters as well, but the entire book series is told in first person from Hap’s perspective. These are just two examples, and, let me be clear, I enjoy both of these series and authors. It isn’t about that, it’s about a space where black authors from more rural areas, can create black rural characters and their perspectives. Rural noir, as much as it is an established story type, isn’t always that space. But it should be. It can be. And that is partly why this is an important book. There is a perspective here that has been absent, but isn’t any longer. And Cosby is carving that space out for himself.
That’s not to say that this book is perfect. It isn’t. For example, it suffers from some wish fulfillment fantasies by protagonist proxy that are common sometimes in the genre. These aren’t weaknesses though, but things that I expect will be outgrown as Cosby grows as a writer. But they are worth mentioning.
Enough of that, this book hums. It moves a long at a quick pace, and Nathan Waymaker is a great tough guy character unlike others we’ve seen in the genre.
Shawn Cosby is a welcome addition to the genre and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.