Stephen King reviews S.A. Cosby’s latest novel, “All the Sinners Bleed.”

In This Thriller, the Psycho Killers Have a Southern Drawl

Stephen King reviews S.A. Cosby’s latest novel, “All the Sinners Bleed.”

Titus Crown is an ex-F.B.I. agent who gets a sheriff’s job, almost by accident, in a rural Virginia community. He’s Black. Mr. Spearman teaches geography and wears a coat of many countries on Earth Day. He’s white. Given the name of the town and county where these two live — Charon — one can expect bad things to happen, and they certainly do. As in S.A. Cosby’s previous two novels, “Blacktop Wasteland” and “Razorblade Tears,” the body count is high and the action pretty much nonstop.

Said action begins with the report of an active shooter at Jefferson Davis High School. Sheriff Crown gathers his deputies, some white and some Black, hoping the perpetrator won’t have an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of those weapons “designed to deal out death in bunches like a spreader tossing seeds.”

Instead of a massacre they find a single victim, the beloved Mr. Spearman. The shooter, Latrell Macdonald, is cut down by Titus’s deputies when he refuses to drop his weapon; his last words are “I have become death.” Ominous!

When Titus is able to get into Spearman’s phone — this happens in a nicely creepy mortuary scene — he finds horrifying pictures of torture and murder. The victims are children, all Black. Latrell and Spearman were part of a killing trio. The third murderer is still on the loose. Titus’s job is to find him in a Southern community Cosby describes as “a no-man’s land between people who believed in him, people who hated him because of his skin color and people who believed he was a traitor to his race.”

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