Review

The Reapers

by John Connolly

Those who follow John Connolly’s mythos of bedeviled
detective Charlie Parker have been wondering since the conclusion
of 2007’s THE UNQUIET precisely what Parker would do next.
His license pulled and his family gone, Parker would seem to be on
the verge of…something. But it appears that whatever it is
will have to wait a bit, as THE REAPERS goes in another direction
from Parker, though not entirely off his map. It is a trip that
fans of Connolly will savor from beginning to end.

THE REAPERS is principally the story of Louis, the enigmatic killer
who Parker occasionally calls upon for backup. The narrative cuts
back and forth in time, from Louis’s early life in a small
southern town, where, barely into adolescence, he committed his
first murder, to the present, where an action in his past --- a
contract killing, carried out without rancor or personal malice ---
is coming back to pursue him with a dire and unstoppable messenger.
Along the way we meet Gabriel, Louis’s mentor and truly the
closest thing he has ever had to a father, a man who introduced
Louis to the world of the Reapers. Louis left that world after
developing the rudimentary beginnings of a conscience --- not much,
but enough to ruin him for their purposes --- yet he remains just
as dangerous, as readers of Connolly’s other books well
know.

Leaving the Reapers meant leaving Gabriel. Suddenly, however,
Gabriel is back in Louis’s life. Long ago, at Gabriel’s
behest, Louis killed Jon Leehagan. It took Arthur, Jon’s
father, years to determine who had carried out the assignment. A
man of great wealth and power, Arthur is now visiting a terrible
vengeance on all involved, and using as his instrument an
individual who bears a great and unyielding grudge against Louis
for his own reasons. Louis and his partner Angel are given the
ability to go against Arthur on his own ground, but things go
terribly wrong. Help for them is coming from an unexpected source,
but even that may not be enough as a cataclysmic conclusion is
played out against the quiet of upstate New York, where endings
will take place and, possibly, new beginnings will occur.

Connolly is at the top of his game here. He takes great risks,
peeling back the story of one of his most unique protagonists while
keeping Parker at bay for the most part, and introduces new
characters, some of whom will no doubt have roles to play in future
efforts. But what the book arguably signifies is the broadness of
the canvas on which the author paints. While Parker is a
fascinating character, there are a number of people in his orbit
who can hold a novel on their own. At least two, and possibly more,
are introduced who could be the fodder for an entire book, tied
into Parker’s life or not.

After seven Parker novels (if one counts BAD MEN), Connolly can
swerve back into Parker’s life or meander on the edge of it,
successfully merging the new with the familiar. As strange as it
may seem, what we have read from him to date may well be but an
introduction to where he is going. And if THE REAPERS is any
indication of what the journey will be like, you will want a
lifetime ticket.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

The Reapers
by John Connolly

  • Publication Date: May 27, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Atria
  • ISBN-10: 1416569529
  • ISBN-13: 9781416569527