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"All the Sinners Bleed" | Reviewed by Miles Eschmann

Set in the turbulent year of 2017, “All the Sinners Bleed” is an enthusiastically bloody crime thriller with subtext rooted in the deeply uncomfortable history of subjugation and racism in the United States alongside themes of redemption and religious belief.

The novel begins with Titus Crown, newly appointed sheriff of the fictional Charon County Virginia, receiving a call about an active shooter at a local high school. And yet, even after the situation comes to a resolution, Titus’ investigation into the motives of the shooter leads to him uncovering a gruesome secret buried just beneath the soil of his town.

Author S.A. Cosby does an exemplary job in balancing the sanguineous and tense murder investigation with Titus’ family and romantic life, leading to a story that had me on the edge of my seat on multiple levels: especially as the killer manages to stay just one step ahead and begins to toy with Sheriff Crown and the rest of the investigation team.

The depiction of the investigation itself peers into various aspects of American culture increasingly under strife, dealing with religious zealotry and the passing-down of racist beliefs as heavy themes and motivating factors. And despite the delicate nature of these topics, they feel right at home as S.A. Cosby manages to intertwine and steep these themes into nearly every aspect of the novel, forming more hurdles for Titus Crown to overcome.

The ending of the novel is largely left up to interpretation with some of the lesser plot threads. At the same time, however, this approach to the ending also allows Titus to grow as a character and complete his arc of moving through his past traumas and regrets. Furthermore, the ending feels justified, and more of a send-off than a cliffhanger.

Overall, S.A. Cosby does a great job of crafting a thrilling story with tender moments that allow for the delicate balance of real-world themes of racism and theology within the breakneck tension of a serial-killer plot. And although the ending may feel to some readers as being slightly dissatisfying, the novel ultimately feels complete and quite well produced.

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