Well, now I seem to be back on a crime story kick. Author, Peter Lovesey, was recommended to me some while ago by somebody or other but I'm not sure who. So what I did was nabbed a couple of his books that I spotted in charity shops. This is one of those: The Reaper.
Otis Joy is a murderer. A serial murderer to be exact. He is young, handsome, charismatic and the new rector in the village of Foxford. Aside from murder, his other crime is embezzling church funds and this is where the story starts, with the bishop accusing him of misappropriating funds from his last living. Not long after this the bishop is found dead at the bottom of a quarry, having apparently committed suicide; it was said he couldn't live with his sexual perversions. No one suspects the young and charming vicar, Otis Joy, of any sort of crime.
The next to go is Stanley Burrows, the treasurer of the PCC in Foxford. He has decided to give up the post and plans to hand over the books to his successor, explaining various things that Otis would really rather he did not. Otis arranges that the new treasurer be Rachel, a young woman, keen church goer and helper at fund raising events. She is married to Gary, ten years older than herself and, quite frankly, a bit of an oaf. Like several of the women in the parish, Rachel falls heavily for Otis and things get slightly out of hand one evening when he brings the treasurer's books around for her to peruse, while Gary is in the USA. Gary returns and smells a rat. He goes to confront the vicar, having no idea at all of the danger he's putting himself into. Meanwhile, Burton Sands, the young accountant who wanted Rachel's treasurer's job, is busy investigating...
Hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this one. It's a real page-turner of a book that doesn't rest on its laurels for five minutes. We learn within the first few pages what Otis Joy is, so this is not your run-of-the-mill crime story with a detective figuring out clues. This is a 'he did it, watch what else he does, and see if he gets away with it' kind of yarn. So, as the reader you're in the position of knowing everything that's going on. Well *almost*. There are a couple of twists that keep you guessing and Lovesey leads you up the garden path a bit too... right up to the end in fact.
Otis Joy is wicked beyond words but somehow you just love him. The author describes his looks as rather 'young Harrison Ford'... I just couldn't picture that at all. For me he came over as pure David Tennant and if they ever dramatise it (they won't obviously) they need to grab him and make him do it: with his ambivilent personality he'd be fantastic.
Anyway, all that said, it can be supposed that I loved the book and you'd be right. No quibbles at all, it was just perfect and I'll be reading a lot more Peter Lovesey. I have the first two Peter Diamond books on my tbr pile and grabbed The Circle from the library yesterday (about a writing group apparently) and a book of short stories. I think I'm going to enjoy this 'new to me' author rather a lot.
ETA: Peter Lovesey won the CWA 'Cartier Diamond Dagger' lifetime achievement award in 2000 so I'll be adding this to my list of books for my Book awards reading challenge.