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The Reapers: A Thriller [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

John Connolly , Jay O. Sanders

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John Connolly was born in Dublin in 1968. His debut -EVERY DEAD THING - swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He is the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award. (For Every Dead Thing). In 2007 he was awarded the Irish Post Award for Literature.

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reapers Creepers 27 May 2008
By Tom H - Published on Amazon.com
I would begin by saying that I've read as much of John Connolly's published work as found available. That includes: all of the Charlie Parker novels, The Book of Lost Things, and Nocturnes (Mister Connolly's outstanding anthology of short stories, of which the tale The New Daughter, from the short story of the same name, receives a retelling in the form of a soon to be released motion picture starring Kevin Costner and Ivana Banquero, the beguiling daughter in Pan's Labyrinth).

This stand alone novel is every bit as engrossing as the other tales involving Charlie Parker, erstwhile NYPD Detective and guilt ridden (while otherwise occupied) survivor of the butchery that claimed his wife and daughter. Thing is... this latest volume does not focus on the character of Charlie Parker so much as it concentrates on his friends, and sometime accomplices and cohorts, Louis and Angel.

Both of these characters figure large in novels concerning PI Charlie Parker. But not much has been issued by way of explaining their genesis (and especially Louis). All of that territory is covered in this distinct volume (and with barely so much as an utterance, and even less of a presence, of Charlie Parker).

To mention much of the story would be to mention a lot. Let's just say that it is a tale of menace and authority, and of retribution and reaction, and of hunters being hunted. There is much room here for betrayal and false starts turning into dead ends turning into blind corners, the likes of which you should be ever mindful of turning.

Bottom line is the fact that, as always, Mr. Connolly does not disappoint. He has a certain knack for providing lyricism midst chaos and with ever the ear for crisply delivered dialogue delivered as if it were being spoken directly. There is also the proper amount of hyperbole, injected whenever needed, while providing pause within the context of whatever background information is being provided. That said, Mr. Connolly is a master at pacing his stories and at always providing the proper mix of `telling and showing'.

If you enjoyed the previous Charlie Parker novels, and hunger for more of the same, you can't go wrong. And if you are new to the `crime' scene and seeking something other than hammered phrasing and rat-a-tat-prose, you are in for a treat.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not the usual Parker thriller, but. . . 31 May 2008
By Gabriela Perez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Before I say anything else, I will tell you that I am a great fan of Mr. Connolly's Charlie Parker series. In fact, I'm a huge fan of all of Mr. Connolly's writing. My fondness for his books stems from the simple fact that I have found them all incredibly satisfying reads. Not a one has ever disappointed me, and lest you think I'm a blindly enthusiastic fan, I'll tell you that I fully expected NOT to like this one as much as the others, or at least to like it for a whole slew of different reasons.

I'd read that this book was focused on Louis and Angel (Charlie Parker's homicidal, hilarious, homosexual "sidekicks"); I'd read that Parker played only a peripheral role here. So, being the huge Parker fan that I am, I wondered if I'd find this read as satisfying or as well-written when it focused on two people whose dark natures were, at least to me, so much more developed and hard to deny.

I needn't have worried. I finished it in record time and was well-pleased with the book as a whole.

Parker does indeed play a peripheral role. He probably appears in less than 1/6 of the book, and only in a reversal of his usual place in things. He's the Angel/Louis here. He's the one who comes in when trouble hits, but whose character is basically secondary throughout except as it affects other characters (in fact, he is referred to as "the Detective" throughout most of the pages upon which he appears, the result of being seen primarily through the eyes of Willie Brew).

The result of Parker's relative absence is a lighter book, even when it covers the darkest of topics. Parker, you see, might have his funny moments, but his is a tortured spirit. He does terrible things, usually for all the right reasons, but the terrible nature of what he feels compelled to do is never far from him. As a result, spending time with him is often exhausting, sometimes depressing, always thought-provoking. I have loved every Parker book, but I'm not blind to the spiritual challenge reading about him puts before me.

One of the reasons I believe Angel and Louis are so popular is that they can do terrible things as well, but the moral toughness doesn't swallow them whole, doesn't cling to them the way it does to Parker. Their humor, their banter, their cool loyalty--these are all appealing to so many of us.

In this book, we get a lot of background that I, for one, have long wanted. How did Louis become a hired killer? How clearly does Angel see his partner and the violence he holds within him? And, just as important in a National Enquirer kind of way: what kind of life do Louis and Angel live when they're not backing Parker up in some guns-a-blazing way? Do they have any other friends, for crying out loud? Why on earth does Angel wear such incredibly awful clothes? How do he and Angel reconcile their vastly different musical tastes? Does Louis really have such contempt for his partner's humor and clothing?

As Louis tries to deal with a threat on his and his loved ones' lives (and yes, believe it or not, there is more than one loved one in his life, although you won't ever hear him admitting it), we learn about his relationship to his "handler," Gabriel. We learn a bit more about the love Louis and Angel hold for each other (although there's nothing explicit here, folks; I don't imagine we'll ever get taken into that territory by Mr. Connolly, and that's a good thing, in my opinion; the story of these two men isn't, I don't think, one that would show up in the gay equivalent of a Harlequin romance).

More than anything, I really enjoyed the fact that Parker gets to explain a bit about himself without. . .well, without all that angst. His is a (deceptively) simple life here (when this novel begins, Parker has lost his PI license and is tending bar, his personal life still in a kind of limbo), the ultimate role reversal, as I said before.

The novel includes some really tough scenes and some hard-to-stomach history (that's one of Mr. Connolly's strongest skills--his research, and the way he weaves history into his stories--wow) about sundown towns, but this book is far less bleak than the other seven in this series. Usually, the history we get is tied to something that will affect Parker directly, that will in some way add to his moral burden or flesh out (no pun intended) some part of the mystery he's trying to solve in that given book. The result of this is often an oppressive weight, and I can honestly say that I rarely find myself happy at the end of a Parker book; there's just been so much weighing on my spirit as well throughout. Not so here. I do feel the weight of the history that defined who Louis is (both as a black man and as a killer), but it's just. . .different.

Overall--I really enjoyed this. Pick it up, especially if you're a Louis and Angel fan. If you're more a Charlie Parker fan, pick it up so that you can see him through different eyes.

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connolly Raises The Bar! 8 Jun 2008
By TMStyles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John Connolly is a most gifted writer and wordsmith. His Charlie Parker novels constitute one of the finest thriller series in existence today. His prose is sometimes so lyrical and so defining that I find myself rereading a sentence or paragraph just to marvel at his styling. He can establish mood, a sense of disquiet, peril, or supernatural unease with a few well turned phrases. His characterizations are always believable and fleshed within the context of the story. And his ability to build suspense and an impending sense of doom that is almost palpable to the reader is extraordinary.

"The Reapers" can be read as two parallel stories since there is a lot of jumping back and forth in time to relive past events that add context to the current storyline. As has been well established, this novel focuses heavily on Parker's "back-ups", Louis and Angel. One storyline develops the back-story on Louis and Angel which brings our appreciation for the deadly Louis to an even higher level; certainly they become more humanized and complete than ever in this novel.

The central plot deals with betrayals, double crosses, and the payment of blood debts in the violent world of professional assassins (Reapers). Louis' back story fills in gaps on his deadly past and portrays him as a much more formidable protagonist than even the regular Connolly reader would imagine. As usual, Connolly visits themes of loyalty (in many manifestations) and motivation in his unique and flawed characters. Ultimately several storylines intersect and Parker and friends race to find and support their two imperiled allies.

I found this to be my favorite of the Charlie Parker novels even though Parker has only a small part to play in it. It was absent the darkness and depression, and supernatural atmosphere, that usually is found when Parker is the main focus...yet the violence and the death count are as high as ever. It reads more of a revenge of the assassins than anything else. The author is a master of establishing mood and motivation through the psychological maneuverings of his characters and his readers.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece from John Connolly 7 Jun 2008
By ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Angel and Louis are partners in crime, and life partners. Their love for each other doesn't make them less menacing, but their love gives them humanity. Their association with Charlie 'Bird' Parker in previous books has been accompanied not only by violence but supernatural pulls between Light and Dark Forces. Who will win? Sometimes it's a toss-up.
We have never known the story of Angel and Louis. Louis, being black in a small town many years ago, accused of killing the man who killed his mother, is taken 'under the wing' of Gabriel, a man who trains and handles Reapers - lethal machines who do their own sense of justice. We find how he and Angel meet, and how they came to be together.
It is another masterpiece in Connolly's collection. The writing is lyrical, mesmerizing. Here is a description of Charlie Parker - 'He respected the third man (Parker), even liked him, but there was something about him...What was the word Arno had used? "Ethereal." Willie had been forced to look it up later. It wasn't quite right, but it was close. "Otherworldly," maybe.' If there is a fair description how we perceive Parker, 'Otherworldly or Ethereal' would be good words to think on. Both these words good be descriptions for good or evil - a battle Parker, Angel and Louis are waging.
Whether Connolly is writing his Parker series, or Book of Lost Things, or anything he should choose to write, I will be waiting for it to be released. He is one of the writers who has stayed true to his style, and has kept his writing edge in top shape.
Another excellent view into the world of Louis, Angel and Charlie Parker.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold violence 19 Oct 2008
By Beverley Strong - Published on Amazon.com
This is an extremely violent book, peopled by characters who seem to have no sense of right or wrong and who are able to kill a designated person without the slightest qualm. A "reaper" is a killer who has been especially trained to kill other killers, under a contract from a crime boss. It took me a while to establish exactly who the characters were as this is the first book I've read in this series and it would be much easier if the reader had previous contact with these men. The story was well plotted and raced along, once I'd worked out who everyone was, but be warned, it's a book about retribution and vengeance and so is one of the most violent books I've ever come across. I don't regret reading the book, but don't wish to spend too much time in the company of these merciless, cold and evil men.
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