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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reapers Creepers
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...
Published on May 27, 2008 by Tom H

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reap and So-So
This is the first John Connolly work that I have read and I was immediately hooked on the creative quality of the writing. In the beginning, the author takes the characters and adds dimensions to them to make them far more interesting. An example is the treatment of the two protagonists, Louis and Angel, hired assasins who happen to be gay lovers. Very original. The...
Published on July 10, 2008 by Frank Berkeley

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not So Dark, May 13, 2009
This review is from: The Reapers: A Thriller (Mass Market Paperback)
People keep calling this an extremely dark book. I have to disagree with their assessments. The things that could really make it dark usually seem like asides or tangents. When the author starts telling us about Louis' background it doesn't really strike as dark and chilling. It seems like a long side road.

The protagonist Louis isn't really the darkest character in the book. He lives in a perpetual world of solitude, even amongst friends. Of course besides the few nightmares we're told about he really doesn't seem very much like sociopath or very menacing. He seems like any number of real life military personnel I have met. Is he supposed to be more dark and intriguing because he is a privateer? Bliss... Well that guy seems many times darker and more sadistic than anyone in the book. Then in the end even he feels like just another soldier with a score to settle.

There is a lot of death in this book and some touchy subjects from the past or broached. However, I never felt an uneasy darkness settle in when reading the book. I believe that is mainly because I felt like I was constantly being told things instead of shown. Connolly reveals Louis' past through these twelve (or more) page breaks in the story. It constantly interrupts the flow of the narrative. They also begin to feel like a lecture on the evils of the post civil rights south. It becomes almost academic in nature at times. We are told what a "sundown town" is and what constitutes a town to southern people. We aren't shown with characters or through dialogue. We are told of the physical suffering that befalls Louis' as a teenager but we don't see what happens. This pattern seems to hold true across the entirety of the book.

It is true that Connolly does try to show us the nature of his characters. There are a few scenes that show the emerging humanity of his protagonist couple. They just number too few for the length of the book. They also lack real depth or a sense of understanding. In the end I felt like I knew Willie the car mechanic better than I did anyone in the book.

I would have given this story a 2.5 because of how the action was written and Willie the mechanic. Amazon doesn't allow half stars so I rounded up. Reapers is a decent book that will entertain most people. If you are looking for something truly dark and disturbing this really isn't the cream of the crop.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite to the level of previous Parker novels, February 23, 2009
Fernando Battaglia (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Reapers (Hardcover)
Though I love John Connolly, especially his Charlie Parker novels, I found The Reapers to be one of his less compelling efforts. Possibly because the character of Charlie Parker is not a main focus of the story and appears only a little. The story focuses instead on his friends, the assasin Louis and the burglar Angel, a rather unusual gay couple who come to Parker's aid in all the previous novels.

Though it's good and offers a lot more background information on these two characters, you do get the feeling that Connolly is setting you up for future books with this one, leading all three characters and the various associated characters who tend to appear in these novel into a larger, more significant storyline. As I understand it, there will be another Parker novel out in 2009.

It does also miss some of the dark, pseudo-mysticism that makes the Parker novels so good. The "honeycomb world" where all things are connected and one action can have a wide-ranging and wide-lasting impact upon many is present, but to a lesser extent that in other Parker novels.

Still, it was an enjoyable book and one I would recommend, but ideally not before reading some preceding Parker novels.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, February 13, 2009
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This was an ok read, but I was disappointed that it focused on secondary characters from his previous books. I was looking forward to another book featuring Charlie Parker. It also seemed to allude to some supernatural aspects of one character and then never followed through.
My personal connections to Maine and John's use of Maine for a location was also an extra plus for me that I missed this time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Read it and Reap, January 16, 2009
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This dark and violent novel explores the background of professional assassin and frequent sidekick of troubled pi Charlie Parker, Louis, and to a significantly lesser extent his partner, Angel. Someone is seeking blood for a hit from long ago and Louis is in the uncomfortable position of being both hunter and hunted. Connolly intersperses the tale of betrayal and revenge with the horrors of Louis's childhood and the racial ugliness of the Deep South. There are a number of incidental characters, some engaging (Willie Brew), most not. Charlie Parker makes an appearance, this time helping Louis and Angel.

Unfortunately, this novel is not one of Connolly's best. Still, Connolly at his worst is superior to most writers at the top of their game. I was looking forward to the Louis story but found it, after his first murder, pat. The super secret government agencies and governmental immorality were old and tired. The enemies of Louis were not very interesting. They lacked the moral imperative necessary to make them sympathetic and were otherwise, run of the mill. It would have been more interesting to have a non-criminal seek vengeance for the loss of his child than just a common criminal. Extra points for an exciting conclusion but overall this book lacked the moral tension with which this author imbues his stories. There was no real triumph or redemption. Moreover, there was no real answer as to whether Louis the killer was born or made.

So while it is not a bad read, it is certainly much less than I expected from this author.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Writing lacked balance, characters lacked redemption, January 8, 2009
This review is from: The Reapers (Hardcover)
First Sentence: Sometimes Louis dreams of the Burning Man.

Louis and Angel are killers; accustomed to being the hunters. Now they find they are the hunted and the targets of a fellow hitman named Bliss.

I was a huge fan of Connolly's earlier books. Unfortunately, his style seems to have changed and the elements I one loved have been lost, particularly the lyrical style of his writing. That was completely missing in this book. His books have always been dark to the point where I have cautioned those to whom I have recommended his books.

This, however, seemed to be violence for the sake of violence. There were a lot of characters in this book and only one about whom one could really care. Louis and Angel are interesting and I originally liked the idea of learning more of Louis background, but without Parker, of whom very little was seen in this book, there was no balance and I found the two characters without redemption.

Connolly's wonderful dialogue was in evidence, but that wasn't enough to make me like the book. In fact, it's the only book by Connolly I found myself putting down and almost dreading going back to.

Connolly's writing both attracts and repels me, which may be his objective, but I am not certain whether I shall continue reading him.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, and uncharacteristically disappointing., June 2, 2008
Being a huge fan of John Connolly since the opening sequence of "Every Dead Thing", when my wife handed me "The Reapers" I was as excited as a teenage boy that's just been handed title to a bordello. However, just as the aforementioned teenager is bound to be, I ended up feeling disappointed, confused, and that a little bit of what had always seemed like magic had just been shown to be cheap sleight of hand.

The Reapers, unlike the rest of the Parker series, is written entirely from perspectives other than Parker's. I can see why Connolly would want to expand the horizons of the Parker series, and explore the background of the series' rich supporting cast, but it just doesn't work. Connolly's incredible talent for turning a beautiful phrase remains, but his feeling for the other characters is less sure than it is with Parker, and it leaves the narrative wanting.

So too does the novel's structure - too much exposition and slow paced development, leading to a problem that is so clearly visible from early on (in fact, reading the fly clues you in) that by the time it finally rolled around, I was relieved, more than enthralled. The constant reference to Parker as "The Detective" works ok while it's coming from Willie Brew's perspective (and the depth added to Willie is great), but once the narrative drive switches to Angel, it's so horrifically false that it made me wince.

The development and characterization of Louis' story is pretty flat, too. Connolly rolls out a tired set of supporting characters, such as the "spy so average that he is virtually invisible", that are simply tools to move the narrative forward, rather than interesting, living characters in and of themselves. The constant reference to the angelic host is getting old, too. I could go on and on, but it just seems like harping.

There are a lot of things that work in "The Reapers", and it's not a bad book, but when viewed next to its siblings in the Parker series, it's the idiot red-headed step child that is best kept in the basement when company comes.

As a Parker story, I'd rate it an interesting experiment that ultimately failed. Here's hoping "The Lovers" gets back where it belongs; with the self-deprecating and wounded - but ultimately hopeful - sorrow of Charlie Parker.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, June 20, 2008
Dr. John (Texas United States) - See all my reviews
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A weak plot, poorly developed characters, sophomoric dialogue, and a predictable conclusion makes this novel the most disappointing of anything written by Connolly. Were this the first of his novels for me I would mark him off my list for the future. The only good news was that the book required little of my attention and I never had to worry about having to reread a section if I drifted off to sleep in the middle. Hopefully Connolly will get back on track and we will see his excellent skills as an author in his next book!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connolly keeps readers coming back for more, June 30, 2008
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
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
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reapers not up to Connolly's high standards, July 16, 2008
I was excited when I heard that John Connolly's next book was going to focus on Louis, the hitman from the Charlie Parker series. He has always been an intriguing and unique sidekick type of character. How many books have a black hitman with an affinity for country music?

"The Reapers" is a tale of vengeance. We see Lewis as a boy growing up in the south. We see him being recruited by a man named Gabriel who is loosely associated with the U.S. government. We see how Louis is manipulated into becoming an assassin. And we see Louis creating enemies in the process.

Some of the enemies have tracked Lewis down and are ready to have their vengeance. As usual, Angel is at Lewis's side quipping and griping the whole way.

Connolly is an amazing writer. In just a few pages of "The Reapers" he is creating characters that we feel like we have met. With just a few paragraphs he has also created a sense of foreboding. "The Reapers" just doesn't quite deliver on the promise that the first 50 pages show.

This is very much a "Louis" novel. There is no supernatural undercurrent running through this book as it does in the Charlie Parker novels. This is probably why it is not as satisfying.

Without the supernatural element this becomes just another mystery full of murder and mayhem. There is nothing to distinguish "The Reapers" from dozens of other books that come out every year.

It is a fun read, but it is not on par with the other Charlie Parker books.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Obviously, I'm in the minority, June 18, 2008
Jos M. Hohmann (Media, PA United States) - See all my reviews
I'm half-way through it, and I can't bear to continue. Slow...where is it going? I care where it's going? I thought I had established a good bond with the main character at the very beginning, but even THAT has left me. Forunatly, this was a library book, so no dollar loss.
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The Reapers: A Thriller
The Reapers: A Thriller by John Connolly (Mass Market Paperback - April 28, 2009)
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