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THE REAPER


Peter Lovesey
Soho Press, April 2001

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

The Reverend Otis Joy, rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in the village of Foxford, is young, handsome, charismatic, the perfect clergyman in every way, except that he is pure evil. People who attempt to thwart his plans seem to end up dead or missing . We know from page one, when the bishop confronts him with proof of his embezzlement of church funds, that young Otis is a Bad Boy, but most of his parishioners haven't a clue. One who knew him at his last church, Owen Cumberbatch, states loudly to all and sundry that he knows the reverend is a serial killer, but, as the man is a drunken loudmouth who also claims to be close personal friends with several major celebrities, no one believes him.

Burton Sands, a humorless accountant, is both miffed and mystified that Joy persuades the church board to give the newly-vacated treasurer's job to pretty Mrs. Rachel Jansen, who has no financial experience, instead of to him. He makes it his personal mission to bring the minister down.

The ladies of the parish, eligible or not, all long for more personal attention from Joy, and some, to their sorrow, get it. Even though we know who the criminal is, we are kept guessing about what he might do next, and there are some nice plot twists that make this an entertaining read.

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