My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Reapers, though part of the Charlie Parker series, isn’t really about Charlie. Instead, it’s Louis’s tale. Louis and his partner, in all senses of the word, Angel, are highly skilled hit men who generally support Parker in these books. Angel will kill if necessary, but, he realizes, there’s something very dark inside Louis that makes killing a necessity for him. But as this story opens, Louis has grown weary of his dangerous and violent lifestyle, and is attempting to stop killing and start living. He’s been investing in property, with some success, until he finds himself the target of Bliss, another reaper with whom he has unfinished business. The hunter becomes the hunted when he is lured into an elaborate and deadly set-up. When Louis and Angel disappear, their friends, including Parker, band together to try to save them. As this scenario plays out, flashbacks from Louis’ earlier life dramatically illustrate how and why he became what he is, an assassin who hunts other assassins. We also learn how his relationship with Angel works. To some extent, The Reapers is about the ways in which men relate to other men. Among the supporting characters are Willy and Arno, a pair of mechanics as close as any couple, minus the sexual component. Other key players include a pair of young psychopaths and an unlikely alliance of two savage business competitors.
Connolly handles all this in rich yet uncomplicated prose, with flashes of humor in counterpoint to the darkness and bloodshed, which abound. It’s surprising to find yourself regarding a couple of ruthless murderers as the “good guys”, but this author manages to inject much humanity and sympathy into them. It’s fun to see how other characters view Parker, and knowing the back story of this duo will enrich the reading of the other books in the series.