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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby

I didn't feel drawn into this novel of the horrifying serial killing of children of color in a small Virginia community and the emotionally closed-off former FBI agent and current police chief trying to solve the mystery.

Titus didn’t have the heart to tell Darlene that no one told anyone all their secrets. Even the people we loved kept pieces of themselves hidden away from the light.

Titus Crown, former FBI agent, has returned to his hometown in Charon County, Virginia, to serve as the first Black sheriff in history.

But Titus is facing challenges beyond the effects of generations of racism in his small Southern community.

There's a killer in their midst, and Titus and his small team are struggling to keep up--to track evidence, attempt to piece together potential motivations for crimes, try to pinpoint who's at fault--and keep Charon citizens safe as they investigate.

The crimes at hand here are horrifying, truly the stuff nightmares are made of: serial killing and graphic brutality, centering around children of color, with mental illness, past abuse, and hatred at the heart of the one(s) causing the devastation.

Around these horrors, Cosby introduces a framework of fascinating issues--racism, abuse, shame, emotional vulnerability, and ingrained small-town dynamics. Yet for me, the story doesn't follow any of these avenues to a deeper place. The plot highlights the abhorrent goings-on, past and present, but the story bustles along without digging into the intriguing layers any of these topics allowed for.

In the absence of those explorations, I was hoping to get to know Titus better. Titus's past is alluded to, but this is shared in a drunken moment and not delved into very deeply. Titus remains emotionally closed off throughout the book, including from the reader, and while I was glad for the promise of the book's ending for him, I didn't feel particularly invested in it.

The fact that Titus didn't call in bigger guns to investigate the many complicated angles of the crimes--it felt particularly urgent to stop the current-day killing--was necessary for the story, yet throughout, this seemed strange to me. There is talk late in the story of bringing in reinforcements with more resources, but because of investigative developments (which come only after additional people are killed), this doesn't come to pass.

I listened to All the Sinners Bleed as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

S. A. Cosby is also the author of Razorblade Tears, a book I listed on my Greedy Reading List Six Satisfying Novels about Revenge, as well as Blacktop Wasteland.


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