A tale of two reads – VIRGIN by F. Paul Wilson and LAMB by Christopher Moore

I recently came across LAMB by Christopher Moore in a bookstore in Michigan, and, well...I bought it.  Again.  I'd lent my copy out and it lost its way home.  I've read it before; it was my introduction to Moore's work and I went on to read several more of his titles.  I have liked them all but LAMB remains my favorite. I also bought a "boxed set" collection of ebooks (6 for $0.99) and the first one in that set was F. Paul Wilson's VIRGIN.  Wilson is another of my favorite authors; his Repairman Jack saga gave me a lot of exciting reading pleasure.  After reading it, I found out that it was an early work written under a pen name. The reason I'm writing about both of these is because I read them back-to-back, and both deal with biblical themes.  VIRGIN is sort of DAVINCI CODE meeting grave robbers.  Due to a series of "chance" happenings, an ancient cave is opened up in the deserts in or near Israel, and an ancient scroll is stolen.  When the scroll turns up in the United States, it is determined to be a fake - the ink is only 12 years old, even if the papyrus is 2000 years old. But the truth of what it says cannot be hidden, apparently, and a priest and a nun go off in search of a religious treasure - the body of Mary, mother of Jesus.  And when they find her, things go off the rails.  It was a fun story that got a little preachy at the end, even if some of the preachiness felt...well - right! - in today's world.  Seems the remains of Mary have a lot of power over people, and they signal a second coming... LAMB is a very funny take on the life of Christ, told by his childhood pal and BFF Levi, who is known as Biff.  Biff takes us through the time of Joshua's (Jesus') childhood, how they come to be aquainted with Mary Magdalene, and what they do for those years between age 13 and 30 (or so).  (Hint:  It involves those Eastern wise men who came to seek out Joshua when he was born.)  Josh stays pure and on point and in character (for the most part), though he is also a normal kid in many ways.  But Biff is totally a normal kid, a lot like kids of today - interested in girls and...well, girls.  Biff is totally devoted to Josh, and travels with him as a sort of protector and someone who is able to deal with the world as it presents itself to them, on the world's terms. Turns out Biff checked out before getting to the end of the story, and is brought back to life by the angel Raziel to tell the story that only he can tell. I may have found it funnier because, as a Catholic, I got the references.  A lot of bits in this book made me laugh out loud, and parts of this story were touching enough to bring a tear to the eye.  In some ways I wish this wasn't fiction. So while both stories get thumbs up from me, LAMB gets the far stronger thumbs-up.  I loved it.  I liked VIRGIN too, but not nearly as much as LAMB.  And now I'm done with reading religious themed books - until I find another, that is.  Or until I decide that a reread of LAMB is in order. *****

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