Official Review: Father Divine's Bikes by Steve Bassett

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Latest Review: Father Divine's Bikes by Steve Bassett

Official Review: Father Divine's Bikes by Steve Bassett

Post by rumik »

[Following is an official review of "Father Divine's Bikes" by Steve Bassett.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The year is 1945, a dark time in Newark, New Jersey. Jobs are scarce, and it seems to the poverty-stricken white residents that immigrants and black people are taking over their city. There is no shortage of crime either, as a gang war is about to begin any time now. Meanwhile, the city's biggest newspapers, the Clarion and the Beacon, are having a circulation war of their own. And right in the middle of it are a pair of teenage boys, secretly working for the numbers racket while they deliver newspapers.

Although the premise of Father Divine's Bikes seems a bit complicated, author Steve Bassett never overwhelms us with too much information. He takes his time, letting every character get a few chapters dedicated to their backstory, showing us their motivations and the hardships they have encountered. As a person who enjoys character development, I have felt the crime genre can often be a bit lacking in this department. But that is certainly not the case here.

One can tell the author has a close connection to Newark, judging by how real the setting feels. Indeed, Steve Bassett was born in Newark. Themes of racial and religious tension, poverty, and prejudice are beautifully written in a way that only someone who has experienced them can. The dialogue also feels very real, with slang commonly used at the time, but never overdone.

You may expect this to be a crime thriller, with all the gangs and the rising tension. But for the most part, it's a slow-paced character-focused portrait of an impoverished city during one of its most turbulent times. I greatly prefer this to traditional crime thrillers, but those looking for something full of action won't find much of that here.

I did encounter some typos while reading this, but only one was particularly confusing. I would consider the others all minor, as they can be easily fixed and did not hinder my enjoyment in any way.

All in all, this is a realistic, gritty portrayal of people and the things they had to do to survive during this low point in Newark's history. I can easily give it 3 out of 4 stars for the character development, poignant themes, and the well-written setting. If the typos were fixed, I would definitely give it 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this to all those that enjoy historical settings with a focus on the characters living in them. I wouldn't recommend it to those looking for an action-filled crime thriller.

The book is aimed towards an adult audience, as it features violence and sexual content, including prostitution. Aside from your everyday profanity, readers should also note that characters often use racial slurs in dialogue. Those sensitive to racial topics should perhaps steer clear of this one.

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Post by readerrihana »

I was just wondering why the title is Divine Father...who is he, and what are these bikes referred to? I guess I would not idea of the plot from the title alone, yet the review gives a good summary

I guess due to the profanity, erotic elements and other issues it would not be something I would have an interest to read but thanks anyway for the review

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Post by unamilagra »

This sounds like a really good examination of an interesting time period. I like that it incorporates mystery but that the characters are the main focus of the story. Great review!

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Post by Julius_ »

Real settings make the story more enjoyable. I'm glad the author was born in Newark and is very familiar with it. I enjoyed reading your review.
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Post by sanjus »

A premise of a dark time in Newark, New Jersey during 1945 when the Jobs are scarce, poverty-stricken white residents s and black people are taking over their city looks quite intriguing. Couple of teenage boys, secretly working for the numbers racket seems give more twist to the story. Thanks for your informative review though.
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Post by Nisha Ward »

Using newspaper circulation to facilitate the plot of a crime novel is certainly something here, and the use of teenage boys even more so. I'm curious as to how it plays out, exactly, given that the media tends to turn any time of racial tension and scarcity into all out street wars.
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Post by Salma_asa »

Crime thriller is one of my favourite genres. Reading your review, it seems like this book is worth trying. Eager to read this. Great job with the review!

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Post by Tomah »

It's a shame about the poor editing, but this sounds like an excellent historical novel that should please fans of the crime genre. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Dentarthurdent »

This sounds like an honest, unassuming and un-pretty display of the human condition in a time of strife. It's sad to think about the divisiveness caused by limited resources. Thanks for such a concise review!
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Post by Shabram22 »

I like to understand the reasons behind people's action by knowing their background. Thanks for your review!

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