Okay, I know I often say that my book reviews are a long time coming because my “to be read” list is ever-growing – much faster than I’m able to keep up with! Well, this one is for real a very long time overdue. I actually legitimately completely forgot about it! I keep a list of books to be read and it wasn’t on my list and to top it off I accidentally put it with books I had already read. I only realized this when I was packing up boxes from my townhouse for my move! Then, I was like “wait, I never read this”.
What’s even stranger is I started reading it a year ago! I must have been very busy around the time I had started reading it because I completely blanked on the fact that I had started it. What I think must have happened was that I started reading the novel and then another book came up with a strict deadline so I put it aside and then just forgot about it. I only realized I had begun this book when I started reading and everything was like deja vu. I read about 1/4 of the book in the past!
So what is Father Divine’s Bikes about? It takes place in 1940s Newark, NJ and revolves around the mob turf wars and competing groups running numbers by using paperboys to slip the papers in, well, people’s papers. I found the novel really interesting and I read it fairly quickly because I wanted to see how it would all end.
There are a bunch of characters and each chapter focuses on a different character. Here is where it was both interesting and frustrating. I found each person’s story interesting and was really in to how they were all connected in to the larger scheme. What was frustrating about it was that the individuals were so interesting that I wanted to read more about them! I mean, there were the two different paperboys (and their families – Joey Bancik is the son of immigrants who try to fit in in America and his dad is out of work. Richie Maxwell’s mom would do anything to get him in to a better school that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is willing to pretend her Catholic son wants to learn Yiddish so he can get in to a certain school that allows a certain number in based on course interest. I mean, come on! I would read an entire book just about them) who were just trying to make some money and got caught up running numbers for the mob, there were the African-American barbers who used their shop as a front for running numbers for the mob and recruited the boys, there were the two detectives (who always seemed to be a step behind) and a veteran beat cop who could never catch a break over the years who was always about a dozen steps behind, there was Father Nolan who learned about what his altar boys were up to and was a young, handsome guy who served as a priest overseas during World War II until he came back home to New Jersey. There were more too! Honestly, the author could have made a book about each of these people!
So now I’ve finally read the book and I did enjoy it. I just felt like I didn’t get enough time with all the characters, which I guess means the author did a good job at creating them?
*I received this book complimentary, but all opinions are my own.*