I found "The Reapers" (351 pages) by John Connolly in my stacks of books at home which was fortunate since I'm in dire need of a trip to the bookstore. From the dust cover:
"As a small boy, Louis witnessed an unspeakable crime that takes the life of a member of his small, southern community. He grows up and moves on, but he is forever changed by the cruel and brutal nature of the act. It lights a fire deep within him that burns white and cold, a quiet flame just waiting to ignite. Now, years later, the sins of his life are reaching into his present, bringing with them the buried secrets and half-forgotten acts of his past.
Someone is hunting him, targeting his home, his business, and his partner Angel. The instrument of revenge is Bliss, a killer of killers, the most feared of assassins. Bliss is a Reaper, a lethal tool to be applied toward the ultimate end, but he is also a man with a personal vendetta.
Both hardened by their pasts, Louis and Angel decide to strike back, and although they form a camaraderie that brings them solace, it offers them no shelter from the fate that stalks them. When they mysteriously disappear, their friends are forced to band together to find them. They are led by private detective Charlie Parker, a killer himself, a Reaper in waiting.
Connolly's triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerizes and chills. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt and murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent, The Reapers will terrify and transfix."
Apparently "The Reapers" is a middle book in a series of novels by Connolly that mostly center around detective Charlie Parker. Had I known this before I began reading the book I would have skipped it altogether. I'd rather read books based on the recurrence of one character or characters from the beginning. Fortunately this novel focuses on Louis and Angel, two side characters from the novels, so it was fairly easy to get through the story without knowing what had followed previously.
I found Connolly's writing style somewhat sophisticated for a novel in this genre and I thought the story mostly satisfying although it does get a little predictable toward the end. My greatest surprise, besides many typos (who edited this novel?), was that the main characters, Louis and Angel, were a gay couple. That's definitely new to me in a novel that promotes itself as a thriller. Times they are a changing.
Again, an enjoyable read, particularly the exploration of Louis' past and how he came to be the kind of person he is. The writing is nice and smooth and easily followed even though it comes in the middle of a series of novels. I'll definitely have to check out some of the other novels in the Charlie Parker series. Recommended to fans of mysteries or thrillers.