THE REAPER by Peter Lovesey
Warner Books (Little, Brown) - August 2001
ISBN: 0751530395 - Paperback
British Crime

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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When the Wiltshire police find the body of Bishop Marcus Glastonbury in his car at the bottom of a quarry it is obvious that he must have committed suicide. There is the note, and also a copy of Men Only magazine and when they uncover the fact that he had just made a phone call to one Madam Swish then it seems an open and shut case. But suppose he was murdered? The last person to se him alive was apparently the sexy young vicar of the nearby village of Foxford, one Otis Joy. The most exciting thing that happens here is the village fete but perhaps this year will be different. When a spate of murders starts occurring the inhabitants begin to wonder about their incumbent and suddenly it is a race to find out whodunit, and why.

At first glance this sounds like a classic English cozy and the reader will have to guess whodunit just like the villagers but things are not what they seem. For we know exactly who the culprit is from page one and the joy (pardon the pun) in this book is wondering whether he will get away with it, why he is doing it and gasping at his sheer audacity and dangerous charm. In the hands of a less practiced writer this could well come unstuck but Peter Lovesey has a long pedigree of masterly crime stories behind him, and this is just his latest. It is true that his village owes more to the pages of other cozies than to reality but that just makes his reverse of this sort of fiction all the more delicious. It is not a new idea to make the villain the star of the show but Lovesey manages this with great style so if you think cozies are passé then this might just change your mind.

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