Thursday, November 20, 2008

On second thought, do fear the reaper

My mom gave me her copy of John Connolly the Reapers, saying she didn't finish as it was too dark and violent. Well, that was all I had to hear (OK, I also read a positive notice somewhere, maybe the NYT). The book centers on Louis, a retired assassin, who still feels rage from the lynching murder of his (probable) father. This is part of the effort to make this fairly nasty person, who after all killed whoever, women and children aside, his bosses required him to kill, sympathetic. If you find that sort of thing odious, you will find this book odious.

Having dealt with that, this is a very good thriller, with an unorthodox plot structure, a range of (generally wicked) characters and some truly great scenes. Connolly is also a skilled writer, which greatly enhances the read. Speaking of the plot, DO NOT read the copy on the inside of the cover, it is spoiler laden. Really, take the cover off before you read it.

The Reapers of the title are a gang of assassins, led by a private citizen with ties to the government. It is hinted that the hits are actually sent by the government to this team of subcontractors, but the business side of the Reapers is left a bit murky. Louis is retired from the Reapers, but one never seems to be able to escape one's past, at least in thrillers.

I wasn't aware that this is a series book, until I confirmed it by checking the author's website. That said, as I was reading, I noticed a number of what appeared to be allusions to other stories. I appreciate that Connolly did not fully reveal the plots or endings in these allusions, as some authors do. I would like to read more of his books and it would be too bad if I knew how they all ended.

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