The Reapers by John Connolly Hodder & Stoughton, HK$57 John Connolly's crime novels starring Maine private detective Charlie Parker are quite possibly the best crime novels in the world. Scary, moving and addictive, they are distinguished by the atmospheric prose and the depth of the characterisations. Increasingly, this has extended to bit-part players in Parker's story of grief, violence and redemption: the spooky 'Collector' and Parker's hitman sidekicks, Angel and Louis. Scene-stealers par excellence, Angel and Louis now have a novel of their own. The plot draws heavily on their respective back-stories, snippets of which we have glimpsed in previous books, for example, the lynching of Louis' grandfather in The Burning Man. This is another blast from their past - an elite group of assassins called The Reapers - that circles the pair like vultures. The earliest warning arrives in the shape of Bliss, a combination of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men and that creepy fat monk in The Name of the Rose. As in most of Connolly's novels, one thing leads to about 49 others and Louis and Angel embark upon a do or, more likely, die mission to save their lives. Cue Charlie Parker for some scene-stealing of his own.