“I handle the bodies.”

It’s with this quote that S.A. Cosby opens his debut novel MY DARKEST PRAYER and introduces us to Virginia based mortuary assistant Nathan Waymaker. It’s a perfect introduction, and over the course of 211 fast-paced pages, readers will get to know the many layers of the very capable, Mr. Waymaker. A huge beast of a man, Waymaker lives in the rural Queen County area of Virginia. A former Marine, and then a former deputy for Queen County as well, Nathen now lives and works in his cousin’s funeral home. When he’s not helping to load bodies into the hearse or helping out at the wakes, he’ll help out when a neighbor is in need a favor. If you think the cops aren’t paying enough attention to your complaints… Nathen will help. He’s a good man who was raised right. He can’t say no if you need help. If the situation gets too messy for one man to take care of, Nathen can call in his best friend Skunk. Skunk is comfortable dealing in death and violence, and will do anything to help his friend Nathen.

When Reverend Esau Watkins is discovered dead by mysterious circumstances, members of his church feel just that: the local police aren’t giving the case enough attention, and they think Nathen is the man who will. Unable to say “NO” to the two church matrons who come seeking his aid, Nathen begins poking around the seemingly clean edges of seedy world of the rural church community. With Reverend Watkins adult film star daughter Lisa providing background information on the not-so-godly Reverend, Nathen’s dark suspicions quickly become concrete fact. Nathen is hesitant at first, but as the Virginia underworld starts to take notice of his investigation, Nathen’s investigation takes on a much more desperate- and violent- dimension.

S.A. Cosby has made a name for himself in recent years with his short fiction. Mixing an earthy blend of southern-fried crime noir, Cosby’s work has always been warm, homey, and brutal. In what is essentially a novella length story, Cosby manages to pack an amazing amount of world-building, character arcs, mystery, and resolution. It’s an astounding feat when you realize just how much heart he puts onto each page. MY DARKEST PRAYER is a prime example of economy in storytelling without sacrificing character or story.

MY DARKEST PRAYER is a bold, confident debut from a natural storyteller.


Dan Malmon