Beauregard “Bug” Montage: husband, father, honest car mechanic. But he was once known – from North Carolina to the beaches of Florida – as the best getaway driver on the East Coast. Just like his father, who disappeared many years ago.
After a series of financial calamities (worsened by the racial prejudices of the small town he lives in) Bug reluctantly takes part in a daring diamond heist to solve his money troubles – and to go straight once and for all. However, when it goes horrifically wrong, he’s sucked into a grimy underworld which threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear . . .
There was a great deal of buzz about this book when it came out. It seemed as if everyone was reading it, and even though I thought I should join the club, I was not too impressed with the description. I have read more than my share of caper novels, and most of them are fun but just that. The expectation was that I would enjoy it like I enjoy an action movie with fast cars and jewelry heists.
The difference between Blacktop Wasteland and many of these other crime, pulpy novels is the heart. The main character, Beauregard Montage, is in a tough position. A failing business, bills, a mother who is about to get booted from her nursing home, an estranged daughter that he wants to send to college, and no money to do any of these things, motivates him to do one last job as a driver so that he can get ahead in life. Of course the job doesn’t go right and things get worse, but in the end, the motivation for this job, for everything that Beauregard does is to better his family. This sense of responsibility might hit a little harder with male readers who are trying to provide for their families when money is tight, like we can respect him for the actions he takes and the care that he uses to try not to get caught.
One of the real things I notice in S.A Cosby’s writing is the care that he uses with Beauregard, making sure that he uses his brains that thinks of everything before the jobs are to be done, using him as the character of the professional who is trying to work with amateurs, making his head and shoulders above the rest of the characters. This is also greatly explained by the fact that he is chasing the ghost of his father, Anthony, who was a wheelman criminal of his own, who was doing the same types of jobs when Beauregard was a child. It is possible that he inherited this ability to have a criminal mind, just as he inherited his knack of driving cars.
There are many novels like this one, but Blacktop Wasteland stands out with the character development and the way that the story unfolds. Many people have felt a connection with Beauregard, and this is really what makes Blacktop Wasteland stand out among the rest.