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The Reaper

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  395 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A dark, delicious tale of a popular village cleric who has no conscience

After years spent saving souls, Otis Joy, the rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Foxford, Wiltshire, has found a new calling: ending lives. His young French wife? Anaphylactic shock, what a shame. The bishop? Fell into a quarry. Tragic. It’s not Joy’s fault, really—not that he’s concerned about repe
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Crime (first published April 1st 2001)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  395 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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mark monday
Jul 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: murdertime
if only murder was always so tidy, elegant, and dryly amusing... i'd commit it all the time! this is a murder mystery written in the classic English style - but with a very modern narative twist and several very surprising turns. The Reaper features two amusing audience-identification points: a charming, greedy, psychopathic serial killer (who is also a kindly young reverend) and his sweet, quick-thinking Moral Black Hole of a love interest (a put-upon wife who enjoys baking and tending her gard ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Reaper is one of the weirdest but best crime novels I've ever read. With its quaint style yet immoral characters, it's an unlikely combination that works surprisingly well.
John Lee
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have to declare an interest here. I am a fan of Peter Lovesey and therefore may be a bit biased. I have read all of the Peter Diamond series and a few stand alone novels too. I am running out of his books to read and ration myself with those I have left.

Only a few books have the ability to hook me as quickly and as securely as this one did.
I enjoyed the well written story about the much liked Parish Rector and the day to day story of the church.

The descriptions of the scenes of the story made
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Wright
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime lovers
Recommended to Anne by: my Dad
The Reaper by Peter Lovesey

Well I have to hand it to Peter Lovesey for this one. I fell for Otis Joy he is a man of God but he's so handsome and fun and far to young for me but he is charming and has such a way with him that makes you feel he is there just for you.

The church he is the rector at is doing really well and that is so surprising in this day and age with church's empty and closing. The church is full every meeting and chairs have been added to the back of the church.

This means that th
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For me, Peter Lovesey is at his best when he indulges in blackly humorous satire of detective novel conventions. A murderous clergyman wreaks havoc in a quiet village, despite his tendency to eliminate those who inconvenience his larcenous pillaging of church funds, he is a charming fellow and very good for local church attendance. Will local busybodies be able to convince the authorities that Otis Joy is truly an psychopathic serial killer? Who will be next?

Twists and turns of plot aside, what
Gareth Evans
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Over the last 40 years, I have read a number of Lovesey’s books, although I wouldn’t claim to be an avid reader of his work. I was a little surprised by ‘The Reaper’ as it wasn’t really what I expected from Lovesey. It’s a structurally sound black comedy which twists and turns quite nicely. However, it lacks the degree of charm and whimsy that would make it a compelling read. It is a little too clinical and detached to really make the genre work.

Overall, it’s enjoyable enough and certainly a br
John Stotesbury
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a real HOOT of a crime novel, with a totally implausible fake-but-not-fake Anglican village clergyman as serial killer and even a gullible, youngish, female parishioner who not only has the hots for the clergyman but, in a fit of pique, even does away with her unappreciative hubby! The novel comes across as a wonderfully readable potboiler, hugely entertaining unless you think that the Church of England is a sacrosanct institution -- which good old Peter Lovesey obviously doesn't. Like a ...more
Dave Gulish
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Off balance

What a fun adventure. I was always a quarter turn off from where the Author was planning to take me. And he finished the tale perfectly too!
Jun 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Perhaps the author intended this to be humorous or witty, but I found it rather uninteresting.
Denis Haskin
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up at the library 50-cent book sale, so had no expectations, but gosh if I didn't thoroughly enjoy this! Off to find more Peter Lovesey...
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Stand alone by the same author of the Peter Diamond series. This was very entertaining.
A wonderfully deliciously fun read. I felt rather guilty enjoying it but oh, it was so much fun!
Michelle Le Grand
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
O Tis Joy to read this book. This book is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Reaper is the fifteenth book I have read by Peter Lovesey and it is possibly the best. The setting is St. Bartholomew's Church in Foxford, Wiltshire, England with Otis Joy as the rector. He receives a visit from the the Bishop who says to the young priest facing him, "You're the worst case I've come across. A wicked young man." Otis Joy was in his twenties and decidedly wicked. The bishop had driven to the rectory with a bulging briefcase containing evidence that the young priest had been st ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of dark humor
Shelves: general-fiction
I do love a dark story without a Hays-Code like finish, and thanks to Peter Lovesey (and my husband, who recommended this read) I got to read this one. It's not as darkly comic as some other novels I've read, but it's just subversive enough to scratch that itch and make me think "oh, now *that's* pretty damned clever" at least once each chapter.

Otis Joy is the rector of a church in Foxford. He's extremely popular with the parishioners, and the ladies find him especially interesting. He always h
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating mystery, with the unusual twist of knowing exactly who the killer was at the beginning of the book. Otis Joy is an unbelievably interesting character -- a charismatic minister who is also a calm and very creative serial killer. The lengths he goes to in order to ensure his secrets are kept are completely incredible.

What bothered me about this book was only at the beginning did we see the murders from Joy's perspective. The book keeps its omniscient narrator style, or switc
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've almost completed the Wycliffe series - only one more to go - so now I've started reading Peter Lovesey - that means a variety of sleuths and stories. This one doesn't really have a sleuth and it's one of those reverse mysteries since you know what the killer knows from the beginning and you know who he is and you know why he does what he does, but the police are having a hard time catching him, even when they figure out who he is. The fun part of this book, however, is just that you are in ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This book was...unexpected, and rather delightful. I can't say much because even though there aren't really any secrets, there are still some moments of suspense. The story - about a village rector whose congregation seems to suffer some appalling luck - moves along nicely and kept me wanting more. I liked it so much, in fact, that I went ahead and bought four more Lovesey books (the first couple of books in two of his series). If you're in the mood for a cozy but want something a little differe ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
A nice, quick British "cosy" mystery. It wasn't a mystery in the truest sense of the word, in that the reader is aware of who the murderer is from about page 8 or so. Instead, it's more of a suspense novel where the reader gets to watch and see how long it is before the police become suspicious and catch on to our murderer. Watching that happen turns out to be both very funny and entertaining.
Recommended for anyone that likes British-style mysteries, small-town life depictions, and comical situa
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of Patricia Highsmith
Rev. Otis Joy is a cleric in the C. of E. with a problem. He eliminates the problem by murdering the bishop. Things just get more and more entangled from there, as this charming rogue cuts quite a swath among his parishioners. An intriguing premise, an unusual ending (slightly unsatisfactory), the main character, and sly humor all combine to make this a pretty nifty suspense novel. Just all in good fun, nothing serious. A good read for those shallow moments...we can't read James or Faulkner *all ...more
Sarah Seddon
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of Peter Lovesey's crime fiction, and this one did not disappoint. It is a one-off novel, not featuring any of his regular detectives and is also not a traditional whodunit. Otis Joy is a vicar and a serial killer, and stating this is not a spoiler as it is evident very early in the story and is possibly even mentioned in the blurb on the book cover.

It is not that simple though, and the development of his relationship with one of his congregation, Rachel, introduces another twist to t
Reggie Billingsworth
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I always know Lovesey will deliver intelligent and amusing entertainment but the diabolical edge to The Reaper pushed above and beyond his always high standards into his supreme best.
Savouring it, I took my time reading and put it down regularly to ponder: what could possibly happen next!? HOW will this turn of events evolve? However, wicked it might seem, the logical progression of events makes sense, and the victims all demonstrate a single-minded obtuseness that never goes unrewarded.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Found it hard to get in to this one.
Probably as I had just read all the Peter Diamond series back to back.
Eventually it became engrossing. You really have to to take it as I suspect meant, a black comedy. In fact –not spoiler- the killer’s initials are O.J.!
Some of the characterisations are reminiscent of an Ealing film and this adds to the charm.
It is a credit to Lovesey’s writing that you end up hoping the killer gets away with it.
Would I recommend, yes certainly. However, I would enjoy afte
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this story about a serial killing vicar and couldn't put it down, it would have made the perfect Ealing comedy. Peter Lovesey is a brilliant author, I have read books from all his different series and the stand alone novels too and there hasn't been a bad one yet. This left me with a big grin on my face.
Ant Koplowitz
Fantastic noire-esque thriller from the ever-dependable Peter Lovesey. Dark humour, used to brilliant effect, helps drive a real page-turning narrative. Lovesey has fun taunting his readers with his sardonic humour and larger-than-life characters. One of my very favourite Lovesey books.

© Koplowitz 2009
Helen Patzer
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of good fiction
This book does not have a serial detective, but it does involve murder most foul and a frightening protagonist. It's been a while since I read this book, but the gist of it stays with me powerfully. For those of you who know how I can forget the details mere minutes after I close a book, you will realize that this book must be a gripping read.
Michelle Winters
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: britlit, crime
I found the first chapter hard to get into and wasn't expecting to like it, but in the end it was pretty good. Almost a black comedy, esp in that quirky british style. The "revelations" were surprising and though some incidents were expected, it was still intresting to see how the author worked them all in. This was not one of the Helen Murin series.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My first Peter Lovesey that wasn't a Diamond detective novel. So well done, it reminds me of Ruth Rendell at her best. Lovesey puts the reader in the mind of the principal characters as well as Graham Greene, with better humor. In this novel, he manages suspense expertly; you know what's happening from the beginning but that doesn't matter. You just want to keep in the middle of it all.
Minty McBunny
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, january-2016
I spent many chapters of this book wondering when Peter Diamond was going to show up. It finally dawned on me that it was not part of the series and I was able to stop looking for him & just enjoy the book in its own merit. It was entertaining enough, not terribly believable but a fun over the top British crime caper.
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Peter (Harmer) Lovesey (born 1936 in Whitton, Middlesex) is a British writer of historical and contemporary crime novels and short stories. His best-known series characters are Sergeant Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath. Lovesey's novels and stories mainly fall into the category of entertaining puzzlers in the "Golden ...more
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