Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A Wee Review - The Reapers by John Connolly


The generous and scholarly Tammy Moore, one of Verbal Magazine's reviewers and writers, has allowed us the pleasure of hosting one of her reviews. Take it away, Tammy...

In The Reapers John Connolly turns his focus from the troubled, and trouble-magnet, some-time PI Charlie Parker in order to follow the absorbing characters of Louis and Angel instead. It might seem like a risky move – six highly successful books with Charlie Parker as the protagonist suggest a formula to follow – but there’s a breadth and depth to the world that Connolly has created that makes you want to see what lies just around the corner. And just around the corner from Charlie Parker is Louis – his associate, his friend-of-sorts and his dark mirror image. A reflection that draws ever closer as Parker is forced further from the reassurance of his one-time role as a cop and Louis struggles to reconcile his burgeoning sense of decency (not exactly conscience, not Louis) with his essential nature. I’ve no doubt that many, if not all, of Connolly’s readers were delighted to learn more about the principled killer.

And The Reapers is Louis's book. There are no wrongs to right here or victims to be saved. Both sides of the conflict are just, both sides are grotesque. Years ago Louis murdered a man’s son and now the man wants revenge; years ago Louis put down a monster and now the monster’s equally monstrous parent seeks to destroy him. It’s Beowulf with designer suits and automatic weaponry.

It’s also a beautiful book. Not the cover, but inside. John Connolly is a man in love with language and it shows in his work. It’s not just that he has a knack for the beautiful, evocative turn of phrase, although it does, but the craft he puts into creating a moment and making it breathe. His descriptive prose is almost tactile, building lush mindscapes, and is a striking contrast to the wry noir tang of his dialogue.

The plot of the novel is quite straight-forward. Early on, we knew who the antagonist was, his nature if not his name, and why he wanted to bring Louis down. Once the antagonist made his first move it didn’t take long for Louis to find out that information too, but then it would have been contrived otherwise considering Louis past and the contacts he has. Besides, the mystery that we’re solving in the novel isn’t who wants Louis dead, but who Louis is: where he came from, what made him and who he is now. The addition of the scarred assassin Bliss to the hired killers sent to murder Louis, for example, is important not because of what he might do to Louis now, but because of what he was to him in the past.

That said about the plot, the few plot twists that do pepper the plot are all the more gripping for their rarity.

The Reapers is a vividly-realised, gripping book that I would highly recommend. New-comers to the series should, if possible, start at the beginning but The Reapers can function as a stand-alone novel too.

Tammy Moore

Tammy Moore is a Northern Irish based writer of Speculative Fiction. Her first book will be published by Morrigan Books in Sept 08 and, fingers crossed, her plans for literary world domination with go live in 2011. Visit her site - http://www.nevertobetold.com/.


8 comments:

colman said...

John "the windbag" Connolly........zzzzzzzzzzz....soz dozed off mid-post again

Gerard Brennan said...

Tut-tut-tut. Behave, Mister Keane. The man's a gent.

And I've just asked him to do an interview...

gb

Michael Stone said...

So Reapers is a Louis and Angel book? I didn't know that. I dug these pair when I read Every Dead Thing a couple of weeks ago.

I've been browsing Connolly's site of late and he comes across as being a seriously cool guy. I particularly liked his advice for greenhorn writers. Pity I didn't get into his books a few months ago -- I might have made the effort to attend one of his readings/signings. Maybe next time.

Conduit said...

I'll be attending Mr Connolly's "in conversation" thingy at the Book Thingy in Dun Laoghaire next month. I fully intend on pestering him for a blurb. I'll do my best not to come across as a needy psychopath in the process. Nice review, btw.

adrian mckinty said...

Stuart,

I'll blurb you if you think it would help. I'm sure my 3 hardcore fans will listen to my opinion.

great review Ger, dont want to fork out the money though, competition time?

Adrian...

adrian mckinty said...

oops meant great review Tammy, world domination in 2011 ooh er...

a...

Gerard Brennan said...

Mike - Yeah, I've had a good shuftie or two at Mr Connolly's site, and found it very entertaining and informative. And stay tuned. Next week we'll be featuring a very entertaining and informative interview with the man!

Stuart - Yeah, I'm still trying to get that "I'm not a weirdo/stalker/creep" face down pat. I always feel like a bit of a gimp at my favourite author's book-signings.

Adrian - I'm happy to take Tammy's praise. But I guess that wouldn't be fair. I'll pass it on to her.

gb

Conduit said...

Adrian - I'd be glad to take you up on that. ;)