28 January 2008

THE REAPER, Peter Lovesey

If the title in the context of crime fiction makes you think "grim reaper" then you are on the right track.
This is a macabre cosy if there is such a thing. A rompingly entertaining read, but not one of Lovesey's best.

Otis Joy, the rector of St. Bartholomew's in the Wiltshire village of Foxford, a young man in his late 20s, is a dynamic relative newcomer to the village. He seems everything a vicar needs to be, even if he is unmarried. Underneath though he is a very nasty bit of work indeed. Nobody believes lugubrious old Owen Cumberbatch when he says that the Rev. Joy's last parish is without its Sexton/bellringer because he crossed Otis Joy. Snooping old Skidmore simply disappeared.

But we do know from almost the first page of the story that Otis Joy is responsible for the death of the bishop, Marcus Glastonbury, who had found out that he had been embezzling funds at his previous parish (where the Sexton disappeared).

We learn also that he has come to an "arrangement" with his current Parish treasurer, Stanley Burrows, ex-headmaster, to have a private contingency fund which appears nowhere in the church's accounts. And then Stanley says he would like to hand the job over to a younger person, that he is getting too old, and the responsibility of the parish books is too great...

I think Peter Lovesey, one of my favourite authors, had great fun in writing this book. It is almost as if he decided to write a spoof on the village cosy. There are some really sardonic descriptions, almost cruel, of village personalities. One that comes to mind readily is Cynthia Haydenhall, Chair of the Women's Institute - my mental vision of her is of a dark haired strident Penelope Keith - who sees herself as the social hub of the village. And there are others..

This isn't going to exercise your little grey cells too much. But if you enjoy the occasional cosy, then hunt it down. In style it reminds me a bit of M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series.

My rating was 4.1

I've been a Peter Lovesey fan since he published his first novel WOBBLE TO DEATH. You may be familiar with his Peter Diamond series. Fantastic Fiction lists his novels.


Marg said...

How do you get a rating of 4.1??

By the way, I have tagged you for a book meme. Details here

Kerrie said...

My ratings are very subjective Marg. Anything 4 and over I recommend,
3s I have some reservations about,
anything under 3 I really wish I hadn't read,
anything under 2 I probably skimmed through with great impatience hoping it was going to get better,
under 1 I probably didn't/couldn't/wouldn't finish.

The meme looks like it requires thought :-(

Marg said...

Mine are completely subjective as well, but it was more the .1 I was wondering about! LOL!!

The meme did require a little bit of thought, but hopefully it is a bit of fun as well!


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