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5.0 out of 5 stars Holm continues Collecting in style, 20 Nov. 2013
Since the publication of Chris F. Holm's first Collector novel, Dead Harvest, I've been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam's dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it's a word play off of Chandler's book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn't have thought of. Like the previous book, The Big Reap retains the gritty, noir flavour in its story-telling, but in some places it's actually a little darker in tone than anything that went before.

The plot seems rather linear with Sam charged to go and take out the Brethren, a group of rebel Collectors. But it turns out to be far twistier than that. I liked the notion of the Brethren being the people even Hell can't handle and the various members of this exclusive group we meet are suitably unpleasant. He gets to play a game of follow-the-bread-crumbs with these Brethren, being put on the trail of the next one by Lilith once he defeats his current target. The Brethren are a corrupted and twisted lot, but at the same time they're also tragic figures, driven mad by immortality. In many ways what remained of them was less than human and it seems as if killing them was more a mercy than a punishment.

As with the previous books we learn more about Sam's past in The Big Reap. In this story we witness his own Collection, subsequent awakening as a Collector and his first reap, which is an epic one. We also learn more about Lilith and their complicated friendship. I love that we learn more about Sam and his relationship with Lilith. She was one of the most intriguing characters in the series to me and it was great to learn more about what makes her tick and why she was set to be Sam's handler. Through Lilith we also learn more about the way Heaven and Hell are ordered and why Collectors have to be doomed souls instead of just the Devil's demonic minions. Holm manages to squeeze in more world-building and still give us the sense that there is yet more to be discovered.

At its heart the story told in The Big Reap is about love and what tragic lengths people will go to save the ones they love. It's a tragic story and a timeless one. Through the events of the book the reader discovers that Sam's isn't the only tragic story among the Collectors and it made me curious to learn more about other Collectors. What drove them to make their deal and did they get what they wanted or did it turn out to be as much a pot of fool's gold as Sam's deal was? But there was also a lot of hope in the book especially in the ending, where Sam reclaims some of his humanity, which he's been steadily feeling slip away throughout the narrative.

Of course there are characters beyond Sam and Lilith in the book, but most of them are rather secondary to the novel, except for the Brethren and some old friends who make cameo appearances from the previous books. I loved seeing where Kate had ended up and I positively cheered when Theresa and Gio made their entrance. It was great to see old friends, but I also liked how Holm worked them into the story without making it a 'getting the band back together'-device. They come in, do their thing, and then don't hang around to be Sam's Scooby Gang. They have their own things to deal with, which I thought was clever, as it affords us the pleasure of seeing some great characters return, without that return infringing on the core of the narrative.

With The Big Reap Holm continues his Collector series in style. While the narrative ends at a full stop, I whole-heartedly hope this wasn't the last we've seen of Sam Thornton and friends as I just enjoy his character and the tone of the series so damn much. While The Big Reap can be appreciated on its own, if you haven't read any of the books before, I strongly suggest you start at the beginning with Dead Harvest as not only will you get far more from The Big Reap, you'll also be in for two fantastic reads. Whatever Chris Holm writes next, I'll be there to read it, but I sincerely hope his robotic overlords decide to get him to write more Collector books. And I'm willing to bet once you meet Sam and company, so will you.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mean streets..., 16 Aug. 2013
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D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Big Reap (Collector (Angry Robot)) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the third volume in The Collector series after Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye. If you haven't read either, you may find this review a bit spoilery, in which case stop now. (In that case I'd also recommend reading the other books first: if you read this book you will probably want to read them anyway, and although this part is perfectly good as a standalone, it does give away a fair amount about their plots).

Sam Thornton is The Collector - bound, after agreeing a Faustian bargain, to the service of Hell, specifically, collecting the souls of the damned, under control of his "handler" the mysterious and glamorous being Lilith. In the earlier books, we learned how that happened, and some of the politics of Heaven and Hell, as well as the coven of rogue collectors called The Brethren. In this third volume, which picks up directly from the end of the second, Sam turns his attention to them.

It's noticeably different in concept to the earlier books: the plot is much less twisty, even more gore-filled and violent (with, I think, one of the most disgusting methods of travel to trouble the gentle reader of a horror novel: just wait) and with fewer plots-within-plots, reverses and revelations. But we have the same wise-cracking, hard-boiled Sam and the same paradox of what (despite his crimes) seems to be a basically good man forced to do Hell's bidding and feeling his soul die a little more with every bodily possession, every reaping he carries out.

The book is immense fun, as were the earlier ones, and I don't object to the gore. I've only marked it four stars instead of five because it seemed just a bit... well, plot light I suppose. Perhaps it's best to think of the three books as essentially one story, with this part really the action filled finale? It does feel that way, and I wonder if Holm plans more or if this is really the end?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 24 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Big Reap (Collector (Angry Robot)) (Mass Market Paperback)
Very much enjoying the series and characters in this grim reaper series.
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The Big Reap (Collector (Angry Robot))
The Big Reap (Collector (Angry Robot)) by Chris F. Holm (Mass Market Paperback - 30 July 2013)
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