Review of The Reapers

Connolly while attending the 2011 Miami Book Fair International in Miami.
Connolly while attending the 2011 Miami Book Fair International in Miami. | Source

John Connolly was born in Dublin, but is extremely popular with the American readers since his first book was released in 2000.

The Reapers was released to critical acclaim in 2008. This is the seventh book in Connolly's series around the Detective.

This is the only one of his books about Charlie
Parker written from the point of view of a third party. This is definitely the attraction to this piece of literature along with terrific writing.

The writer was also a winner of the Crimefest 2013 Awards.
The writer was also a winner of the Crimefest 2013 Awards. | Source

Burning Soul is a piece of the Charlie Parker series

One of the best thriller writers we have-Harlan Coben

John Connolly fans are in for a treat with his best seller, The Reapers. It has the features you come to expect from this author with all of the danger, suspense and exceptional story telling which cannot be ignored. This is a book with factors surrounding two new characters, Louis and Angel. Although, there are still connections to his favorite character Charlie Parker-the Detective, these are in depth and eccentric personalities which readers will love as much as Parker-if not more.

Louis and Angel are not what you would call angels, but they are more than likable from beginning to end. This is one of those stories that explains how and why people come to a bad place in their lives and the choices they are forced to make to get through them. Add in guns, assassins, eccentric millionaires, everyday working men and women as well as a handful of psychopaths and you have a story that will never leave you bored.

Characters

The two main characters are tow men who are the opposite of each other in every way imaginable. One is black and one is white. While one dresses from the finest tailor made shops in New York City the other buys from the Salvation Army clearance racks. One is fastidiously clean and the other messy and the epitome of it all is one is tall and one is short. Louis and Angel.

These are two scoundrels who lived through a horrifying childhood in two different parts of the country and managed to survive by the luck they made themselves. Angel was the victim of a father who sold his child for as little as a drink. Louis watched his father lynched and burned in front of him for the infraction of being caught in town after dark. With beginnings like these you are astonished at the kindness they show for others. This is part of the wonderful surprises you discover throughout the storyline.

One character in particular which has followed tons of John Connolly's novels is the Detective. Charlie Parker is an ex-policeman, ex-private investigator who is ruthless, cunning and another one you come to love. Even though Charlie is a cold stone killer when he has to be, there is sympathy for this widower who lost his wife and daughter to a horrific murderer. He is the best friend of Louis and Angel if these two misfits could possibly have such a thing in this world.

There are a couple of characters on the fringes which help shape the understanding of why these three are who and what they are and drive the storyline forward. One is Gabriel who molded Louis into an assassin or Reaper and Willie who unknowingly plays an enormous role in the climax of the story. Willie is a simple auto shop owner who doesn't carry a gun or even own one, but finds himself surrounded by those who live and die by one every day.

Storyline

Past sins have a way of catching up with men like Louis and Angel. Louis and his partner Angel do their best to lead low key lives even though they have done many illegal acts over the years. There never is enough to keep the devil away and he comes calling to disrupt the quiet they have come to find living in New York.

They have fooled themselves into believing they are content with the quiet life, Louis more than Angel. Angel identifies his partner Louis is engaged in the disruption a little more than he would like. In fact, it is if he craves it and has missed this darker part of his life.

Louis has moved from the deep rural south to the big city and has defeated the past several times before. The bad things followed him from his southern roots and he was successful in keeping them away with his first gun and killing at an early age. His high IQ and talent for killing attracted the wrong type of people very early in his life. This is where Gabriel came in.

Gabriel ran an elite squad of killing machines for money. He appears to be associated loosely with the FBI in the beginning of the story, but as time goes on his power and reach is lessened and he is a killer for hire from anyone. When he pays a visit to Louis years after he has retired from the Reapers he brings trouble. This sociopathic human being is the only father figure poor Louis has known which make his achievements even more astonishing.

Angel and Louis are offered a job they "cannot refuse" and this starts the ball rolling in the wrong direction in every way. They are in a hard spot and have one way out which is almost impossible in every way. How they handle this mind field is extraordinary and wonderful.

There are tons of elements formed around how a hired killer is created, lives, thinks and "retires". There are revelations all around about how a hired killer will or will not react in all sorts of situations. This makes the story even more interesting.

Let downs

Charlie Parker is one favorite personality that comes with most of Connolly's books. This one touches on him, but leaves you wanting more. If you did not know who he was it could be confusing of his connection to the main individuals in the storyline.

It had to end. Although the ending was right after the biggest climax in the story, it still left you wanting more.

There are lots of flashbacks around Louis since this is mainly his story with Angel along for the ride. If you do not enjoy chapters worth of flashback material, this will annoy you. Although all of this content is an intricate part of the tale.

These are two characters we find briefly in several other books dedicated to stories where the Detective is the main focus. When the Detective (Charlie Parker) does his thing in the books structured around him, they only briefly discuss Louis and Angel. Creating a book with all three with equal billing would be ideal.

Surprises

There are tons of bombshells which makes for a great read. This is what will drive a reader to keep delving further and further into the text and turning the next page again and again. In fact, it is maddening because you hate to put it down until the very end. This is one of the main ingredients in any great read of murder, mystery or suspense novels. It creates an audience dedicated to the next book an author will create before they even release it.

Although the two gunmen are in love with each other, there are no explicit scenes or details worth sharing in this direction. In fact, this doesn't play an enormously large part in the story or character personality at all. Their romance is down played substantially.

Willie is an auto mechanic with perhaps one chapter of detailed info, but plays a vital role in the outcome of the story. He is middle aged man who is offered an out of a bad situation by Louis and takes it. Louis does it with little in return, but Willie is still uneasy with the agreement. He is terrified of both Angel and Louis.

Although the two main anti heroes are paid assassins they take care of an elderly lady and her dogs in their building with care. These two have purchased the building to keep her in a safe place as well as having a neighbor they trust. They provide her with low rent charges, security and friendship. She feels fondness for both of them, but is uneasy with what she suspects they do for a living. They have taught her several ways to stay safe and let her know they will keep her from harm.

Of course the building is rigged with state of the art electronic surveillance, alarm systems, steel doors, an arsenal of guns and capable of blowing any intruder to kingdom come. This is what makes you conflicted when it comes to these two and the normal relationships and bonds they form with a small circle of friends.

In conclusion

There are villains in the novel, but they are not our main characters. These are two men who actually turn out to be more like heroes. They are definitely torn, twisted and dysfunctional in every sense of the word, but it is difficult to form the idea of antiheroes with Angel and Louis. A great read all around.

Writing a book, a novel especially, is no small undertaking. Even the veteran writers experience difficulties at times.
Writing a book, a novel especially, is no small undertaking. Even the veteran writers experience difficulties at times. | Source

Connolly's first book introduced the policeman Charlie Parker to the world. He used the title First Dead Thing and shared his novel with the world in 2000. This first novel launched an esteemed career.

The First Dead Thing was met with critical acclaim and nominated for more than its share of prizes. Nominated for the Shamus Award for best private eye novel. It did win the Shamus Award for the year. Amazingly John Connolly is the first author from outside of the United States to win the award.


The author has an attraction to this specific genre for several reasons. The American crime fiction area permits him to share ideals around empathy, redemption, salvation and making amends.

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One of hidden facts surrounding Connolly's career is an adaptation of one of his books to film. The New Daughter was a short story published in 2009 with a screenplay developed by John Travis. The director was Luiso Berdejo and starred Kevin Kostner in the title role.

Pic of John Connolly during a book signing tour in 2005. Books by the author that year include The Black Angel.
Pic of John Connolly during a book signing tour in 2005. Books by the author that year include The Black Angel. | Source

Ways to read your favorite books without breaking the bank

There are several ways to read your favorite book series without breaking the bank

  • visit half price book stores. these are merchants that buy, sell and trade books in decent condition
  • libraries are always wonderful. not only will you get the hardback without investing lots of money, but you will typically be able to get a reservation on the next book scheduled to be released
  • thrift stores will usually have older copies of an authors book for mere pennies
  • try to hold off on buying a hardback book. wait for the paperback which cost a fraction of the price
  • buy and trade with friends and family members which lets you share the cost

All of these are terrific ways to read and still keep money in the bank for more books.

Charlie Parker is the character bringing in Connolly's bread and butter, but these two are coming in a close second

John Connolly makes his bread and butter from the Charlie Parker series. This is a detective who is very special to readers dedicated to the series. Parker aka the Detective is a widower hunting down evil around the country.

Anyone who likes Connolly also loves the Detective. He is a widower who lost his daughter and wife in a brutal murder that took place in their home. He is driven to discover who is responsible for the heinous act and along the way encounters corrupt men, women and things in between he puts down. He kills them for his own good as well as innocent people they hurt.

Angel and Louis and dedicated to Charlie and assist him with anything and everything he needs. Not only will they give him the tools he needs to kill, but they are willing to put their lives on the line at anytime for him.

He was educated in his native country of Ireland with a degree in journalism as well as English. At 45 years of age there are lots of good years ahead of him to let his light shine on the world of fiction.

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2 comments

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota

What a wonderful and thorough review you have given here. I have heard such good things about this author. I will put this on my to do list when it comes to reading. Thank you for such a great look at this latest book. I am guessing I should start with the first book.


smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 2 years ago from all over the web Author

Put him on the list of authors to follow. You will not be disappointed.

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