The Reaper

Peter Lovesey - The Reaper

Barry Award shortlist, 2000
Jury selection: Prix du Roman d’Aventures, 2004

The bishop’s body lies at the bottom of a quarry. In his car are a suicide note, a copy of Men Only and a Bible underlined at the text ‘… hath devoured thy living with harlots’. His last call, the police discover, was to one Madame Swish.

Devoured by guilt? Or did someone help the bishop move closer to the Lord? He was last seen alive by Otis Joy, the charming young rector of the Wiltshire village of Foxford. Adored by the ladies in his congregation, who fill his pews and collection plates each Sunday, the Reverend Joy had become less popular with the bishop, who had discovered irregularities in the church accounts.

The bishop’s demise is only the first of a series of sudden deaths in Foxford.

UK Publisher: Little, Brown, 2000 ISBN 0-316-85419-0
US Publisher: Soho Press, 2000 ISBN 1-56947-227-0
UK Paperback: Time Warner, 2001 ISBN 0-7515-3039-5
Latest UK Paperback: Sphere, 2014 ISBN 978-0751553598

“Otis is a wonderful creation: self-effacing, pious, attractive, dedicated to his parishioners, devoted to the church. He suffers from vocation run wild: he needs adulation and respect the way a junkie needs a fix. And, like a junkie, he will commit any crime to ensure he receives it. … The plotting is devilish, the writing a pleasure.”
Donna Leon, The Sunday Times

“… it features one of the finest creations in crime fiction – the unforgettable Otis Joy, the young and charming rector of Foxford. … Lovesey tells an almost Trollopian tale, satisfyingly complex and suspenseful but with wonderfully amusing insights into English village life.”
Carla McKay, Daily Mail

“The flavour here is part Patricia Highsmith in her Ripley series and part Ealing comedy, those ’50s British movies, such as ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ that brilliantly mixed the genial and the macabre. It’s a hard act to pull off – tone is everything – and Lovesey is a master practitioner.”
Washington Post Book World

“If you’ve never read any of his 20-plus books this wickedly clever, beautifully written story of a murderous clergyman who earns our sympathy while dramatically whittling down his flock should make you an instant convert.”
Chicago Tribune

“Lovesey is such a master of black humor and macabre plot twists that the attitudes of Foxford’s parishioners are no more predictable than Otis’s outrageous behaviour. By taking care to show us what a pious and compassionate priest the vicar is, Lovesey challenges us to keep our values screwed on tight. In this author’s unorthodox church, there must be a pew for Patricia Highsmith.”
Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review