01/12/2008. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Drollerie Press. 291 page e-book. $ 6.95 (US).
check out website: www.drolleriepress.com and www.cgbauer.net
Scars On The Face Of God: The Devil´┐1/2s Bible´┐1/2 is one scary title and this book lives up to its promise. Set in Three Bridges, Pennsylvania, this story is the ultimate test of faith told by Johnny ´┐1/2Wump´┐1/2 Hozer. Wump is the sound a crowbar makes connecting with a human skull and believe me, you´┐1/2re going to remember that description every time you read his name.
The Wump we meet may seem unfairly named. It´┐1/2s 1964 and his hell-raising days are well behind him. Born at the turn of the century, he has a childhood at the orphanage, abuse at the hands of adoptive parents, a stint in jail and brutal labour at the local tannery in his past. His present includes forty years of marriage to the love of his live, Viola, and fulfilling work as caretaker for the orphanage and church. As the story unfolds, however, we learn more about his past and through him, the past of Three Bridges, including his growing apprehension that perhaps he is less than human.
After a brief and horrifying prologue set in 1909, we move forward to the ´┐1/2present´┐1/2, 1964, and meet the cast of central characters early in the story. Father ´┐1/2Connie´┐1/2 Duncan, who arrives at convent has many reasons for being there unfolding throughout the book, though ostensibly he´┐1/2s there to investigate the philandering monsignor and a depressed nun.
Leo and Raymond, two of the orphans close to Wump, who are indicative of many of the children at Our Lady of the Innocents. Slow-witted and physically disadvantaged (Raymond is blind, mute and wheelchair bound) and yet they seem to have heightened perceptions that border on the extra-sensory. Finally, we meet Adam who physically appears to have escaped the same fate as many of the same orphans, even his twin Ruthie is slow-witted, but his psyche is disturbing and he appears a charismatic bully.
These characters and those in supporting roles are exquisitely drawn, fully-fleshed beings that leap from the page to engage you in the plot. I found it hard to believe this was C.G. Bauer´┐1/2s first novel. The writing is pitch-perfect, from the language used to the intricate weaving of plot threads. This is a talented writer, a name I will expect to find on New York Times best-seller lists.
I don´┐1/2t want to give much of the plot away as the twists and turns are surprising. Although you begin reading about the mystery of new-born infants being thrown into the river, the developments as the threads wind and unwind are startling, pulling in the pervasive leukaemia ´┐1/2epidemic´┐1/2, the rate of birth defects, the number of children at the orphanage and even a missing person or two. C.G. Bauer also skilfully weaves the history and superstitions of the Devil´┐1/2s Bible into his plot. This adds the final dimension of suspense and horror that rounds the book out beautifully.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA