Mysteries abound

Published 4:27 pm Thursday, September 16, 2021

By Wilford Kale

Special to The Farmville Herald

After reading some advance notices about S.A. Cosby’s newest book, “Razorblade Tears” (Flatiron Books, 336 pgs., $26.99) I was unsure whether it would entice me enough to read it thoroughly.

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However, it did!

This is an engaging, provocative story, difficult to put down.

Don’t miss a single page.

Cosby takes us right through today’s lifestyles with its ups and downs, loves and hates and bitterness, often at every turn. This is one of those unforgettable stories — full of the heart and soul of mankind.

Two fathers, ex-convicts, encounter each other after their sons have been murdered. The young men were homosexuals, but also one was Black and one white. Neither dad is happy with the other. Nevertheless, they want to find out why their sons were killed, who killed them and frankly, to get some form of retribution.

The fathers’ ability to work together, and/or their failures to work together, add to the complexity of the storyline — well-developed with twists and turns, some of which you’ll not figure out until you realize they’ve already been taken.

“We really need to confront the issue of homophobia in our community,” Cosby said, “and, as a crime writer, I decided to look at it through the prism of the genre that I love.”

A Mathews County native who now lives in Gloucester County, Cosby has received wide acclaim. “Blacktop Wasteland,” published last year, made 22 best of the year book lists and was named the Los Angeles Times top book prize for mystery and was included in the New York Times list of notable books.

Best-selling author David Joy said: “Cosby has a distinctive voice that screams from a land (the South) overlooked and ignored. His writing rips at the paper-thin walls that have always defined ‘the Southern identity.’”

Cosby told The Guardian of Manchester, England, last week that he is working “on a Southern gothic murder mystery, tentatively titled, ‘All the Sinners Bleed,’ about the first Black sheriff in a small Southern town in 2017 right after Trump is elected.:

Frankly, the rights for “Razorblade Tears” ought to be bought for a future motion picture — the film script wouldn’t take much rewrite. Cosby already has done all the hard work.

Archibald’s Third in a Series

Turning out three mysteries in the past 30 months or so didn’t leave Robert Archibald much time to enjoy “retirement.” Instead of working on economic principles, he has been creatively dreaming up plots and then skillfully writing them out.

Chancellor Professor of Economics Emeritus at the College of William & Mary, Archibald’s most recent novel, “Crime Might Pay” (Blue Fortune Enterprises LLC, 272 pgs., $14.99) is the third saga about four friends who take revenge down different routes.

Previous encounters, “Roundabout Revenge and Guilty Until Proven Innocent,” accomplished various ways to make criminals pay, one way or another.

Retired history professor Phil Philemon, his friend Sherry Ahearn, Phil’s longtime college buddy Ralph Williams, and Ralph’s companion Beth Watson, had earlier helped victims of sexual harassment, getting some kind of revenge on their assailants. But the FBI became involved and Phil and Ralph were told never to get involved in such activities again.

However, along comes a situation where Beth’s parents have lost a court judgment that has financially drained them. The case turns when a woman lies about hurting herself in Beth’s mother’s shoe store. Soon, the quartet is back in business trying to find out not only why they lost the case, but why the judge appeared to favor certain lawyers.

That’s enough of the story to get you involved. Read it and enjoy!

Here’s hoping Archibald is working on another novel — possibly with one or more of these favorite characters involved.

Save a Date for the Book Festival!

The Williamsburg Book Festival is returning this year on Oct. 2 at the Stryker Center, across the mall from the Williamsburg Regional Library in downtown Williamsburg. It will also be the first day of this year’s two-day celebration of the Occasion for the Arts.

After being ousted by COVID-19 last year, this year’s event will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature 30 authors and three book publishers offering their volumes for sale and discussion. The festival, begun in 2013, is designed to celebrate authors — many of them local.

This year’s festival will promote and benefit Williamsburg’s Literacy for Life program, a non-profit program designed to provide individualized one-to-one and small group tutoring for adults in reading, writing and math skills, as well as instruction in English for speakers of other languages.

Nationally recognized art-historical novelist Stephanie Storey will be the featured speaker at a 3 p.m. presentation titled, “The Creation of Art in Fiction.” Additionally, she will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. to talk to festival patrons and to sign her books.

Her two recent books are: “Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo,” (Arcade, 320 pgs., $16.99) a thriller published in 2016, featuring life in 16th-century Florence, and “Raphael: Painter in Rome” (Arcade, 336 pgs., $24.99) was printed last year.

For the past 20 years in Los Angeles, Storey has been a national television producer working with such programs as “Alec Baldwin” on ABC, “Arsenio Hall” on CBS and “The Writers’ Room,” an Emmy-nominated program on the Sundance Channel.

Additionally, there are three other presentations: A panel of experts will speak about making a book club better at 11 a.m.; four Virginia poets will read from their works at noon; and author/teacher Michael Krentz will talk at 2 p.m. about what it takes to write a novel.

To be completely transparent, I am a new member of the festival’s board of directors and am one of the displaying authors.

Wilford Kale, of Williamsburg, is a retired journalist and communications professional. His email address is