by John Connolly
Published by Hodder Paperback, 2009.
First of all no apologies for featuring a John Connolly novel in a blog devoted to Horror, fantasy and SF. For a start Connolly is one of the best writers in any genre and his books bear more similarity to Koontz than Grisham, although often branded as a crime writer (and that’s where you will find him on the book shelves) Connolly has a wide and varied portfolio. His book of short stories Nocturnes illustrated this variety perfectly as did his adult fairy tale The Book Of Lost Things but even within his crime fiction he often includes supernatural themes and elements.
Having said all that though it should be noted that The Reapers is not a typical John Connolly tale. His main series of crime novels follows the adventures of Charlie Parker an ex policeman scarred by the death of his wife and daughter. His adventures in pursuit of their killers and his many other adventures have often involved a couple of mysterious friends, Angel and Louis. This book finally fills in some of their backstory.
Angel and Louis are killers but in a nice way. Throughout the other books we have known that they are hired killers but nothing of their background. This book concentrates on Louis. We meet him as he grows up in an America haunted by race discrimination and the spectre of hangings. Louis seeks revenge on the perpetrators of these crimes and it’s not long before his success and talents have been noticed. This draws him into a secret world of hired killers including the notorious Bliss.
Back in modern times though and it appears someone is trying to kill Angel and Louis along with their friends. The only way to stop the killing is to find and kill first. So the book has two distinct parts , the first a slow build up explaining the backstory and how we got here and the second an all out thriller and fight to the death.
If you haven’t read any John Connolly before then this probably isn’t the place to start, you should really go back and read through the early Charlie Parker books, starting with Every Dead Thing. For fans though this is a welcome addition. The first section is a little slow but don’t let that put you off. It’s not long before the action is ramped up and all the Connolly strengths come to the fore.
Don’t worry about spoiling the mystique of the characters either as Connolly has remarkably managed to reveal some facts which actually pose even more questions. We also find out very little about Angel.
It’s an excellent addition to the JC catalogue, not his best by any means but one that is sure to be welcomed by his many fans. Once again John Connolly shows that crime can be done differently, he is a writer who is always prepared to experiment and take risks. You can find out more here.
Rating 4 out of 5