The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode

This was a really fun read. It has drawn a lot of comparisons to Water for Elephants but I think that’s an insult to Sam Torode. I can only imagine the reason is that The Dirty Parts of the Bible is also set during the Great Depression, that parts of it also happen on a train, and the story is set in motion by an automobile accident involving the protagonist’s father. The similarities end there, however.

First of all, Tobias Henry is a much more likable fellow than Jacob Jankowski on almost every front. For all that he is almost as helpless as Jankowski, Tobias at least realizes as much. And when push comes to shove (and in all fairness to JJ, it does take a few pushes and shoves to get him moving) Tobias does at least take control of his own fate.

Secondly, it’s just a much better story. The characters and events are all more believable.

The story was an enjoyable one with real humor and just a touch of pathos. If I had to nitpick anything, it would be with the character of Craw. I don’t think that his role in the book was all that realistic for the time and place. While certain elements were plausible, others were just a little far-fetched, more so even than the ‘fantasy’ elements of the story. But that’s a rather small nit in an overwhelmingly good book.

The Deadfall Hotel by Steve Resnick Tem

Reading

Reading (Photo credit: Beppie K)

OK, rarely will you ever hear me say this, but this book should have been longer. Not because I didn’t want it to end, but because so much is left out. While I am generally a fan of books that leave a little to the imagination and treat the reader as though they are a capable, thinking individual, there is so much missing here as to strain credulity.I know, I know, this is a fantasy novel. But it is populated by actual human beings, even if they are English. And those Englishmen should either react as humans do, or we should be given some explanation. Screw stiff upper lip and all that–NO ONE in this realm would just accept the goings-on at The Deadfall Hotel without so much as an eyebat, as we are led to believe that Richard Carter does.

This is my first foray into the work of Steve Resnic Tem, so I’ll withhold judgement on the entire oeuvre unless or until I read more, but this one left a lot to be desired.