The Big Reap (The Collector, #3)
The Collector Book Three Who Collects the Collectors? Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions. However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right? File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Soul Solution | Secret Origins | Flaming Torches | Double Dealing ]

The Big Reap (The Collector, #3) Details

TitleThe Big Reap (The Collector, #3)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 30th, 2013
PublisherAngry Robot
ISBN-139780857663429
Rating
GenreFantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Noir, Demons, Thriller, Supernatural

The Big Reap (The Collector, #3) Review

  • Brandon
    January 1, 1970
    Still reeling from the effects of The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is tasked by his handler Lilith to take out the mysterious Brethren, a group made up of former Collectors who have severed their ties with Hell.I received an ARC of The Big Reap from Angry Robot in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to our literary robot overlords!The opening scene of The Big Reap will have a spot among my favorite openers ever. Not only does Chris bring you up to speed if this happens to be your first Thornton no Still reeling from the effects of The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is tasked by his handler Lilith to take out the mysterious Brethren, a group made up of former Collectors who have severed their ties with Hell.I received an ARC of The Big Reap from Angry Robot in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to our literary robot overlords!The opening scene of The Big Reap will have a spot among my favorite openers ever. Not only does Chris bring you up to speed if this happens to be your first Thornton novel (and seriously, who starts on the third book of any series - go read those first two!), he also takes us back and tells the story of Sam’s first collection. That particular story is told over the course of the novel as Chris presents it side-by-side with Thornton’s crusade against the forces of the Brethren. Both stories are equally compelling so when he switches back and forth, you’re not exactly dying to get back to the other.Like the first two novels, Holm continues with his excellently choreographed action scenes. There’s some high octane stuff here involving Thornton having to use his environment to gain advantages. It’s a wonder how Holm can make the character so damn confident when he always seems to just barely come out on top. Sam never seems to have a solid game plan and often relies on thinking in the moment – something that keeps the action moving swiftly with consistently unpredictable results. All of these factors leave us with a story that is a real blast to read.Sam is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. While he carries with him the attitude of a blockbuster movie action star, he’s also a tragic character at heart. As his journey progresses, he realizes just how hopeless his future really is. It would be easy for Holm to give us a character with big bravado who constantly comes out on top but instead gives us a character that learns, develops and grows with each story. He's like John McClane from the first Die Hard movie – not the John McClane that developed over time and became an indestructible superman.In my opinion, this is Holm's finest work yet. Taking nothing away from the first two books in the series, The Big Reap has raised the bar for any potential sequels.Cross Posted @ Every Read ThingCheck out my interview with Chris!
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Trilogies never seem to go out of fashion - well it does seems a striking number of books I have recently read or considered come in threes. Either way it seems to the publishers favourite and after reading this the last part of the Collectors trilogy I cannot really disagree.I will admit that I struggled in places but not because of the book - too many other distractions sadly. However one thing I would say that there were a lot of monologues (am not sure if there were more or I was just more a Trilogies never seem to go out of fashion - well it does seems a striking number of books I have recently read or considered come in threes. Either way it seems to the publishers favourite and after reading this the last part of the Collectors trilogy I cannot really disagree.I will admit that I struggled in places but not because of the book - too many other distractions sadly. However one thing I would say that there were a lot of monologues (am not sure if there were more or I was just more aware of them) which slowed things down. Yes the series was drawing to a close and the author wanted to say all he could do - and by the version nature of Sam explanations and conversations were tricky or down right impossible (to use as way of explaining things).That said I did like how the three books in their own way were linked together and wrapped up - for me in a suitable manner with out condescending simplicity or emotional capitulation. It also technically leaves it open if there were to be any more stories as there were a few characters along the way I would love to read more about. In short this book answered the big questions and left a whole load more unanswered - for me the sign of good book as to me it means I have cared enough to want to know more (surely you have read a book that when you close it you think, hmm whats for dinner and that was the end of it)
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  • sj
    January 1, 1970
    You know those books that you want to tell everyone to read, but when asked to describe what they're about, you kind of draw a blank because even tiny details venture into spoiler territory?  Chris F. Holm's third book in The Collector series, The Big Reap, is one of those books.Let me backtrack a bit, stay with me.Last summer I read Dead Harvest , then a few months later got my hands on an ARC of  The Wrong Goodbye .  Both made my end of the year lists for all the right reasons.  I've been wai You know those books that you want to tell everyone to read, but when asked to describe what they're about, you kind of draw a blank because even tiny details venture into spoiler territory?  Chris F. Holm's third book in The Collector series, The Big Reap, is one of those books.Let me backtrack a bit, stay with me.Last summer I read Dead Harvest , then a few months later got my hands on an ARC of  The Wrong Goodbye .  Both made my end of the year lists for all the right reasons.  I've been waiting as patiently as possible for The Big Reap to pop up on NetGalley and on Tuesday morning I woke up to no less than 3 (THREE!) people letting me know it was available (sidenote:  Do I have friends that know me, or what?).Thanking my lucky stars that Angry Robot has me on autoapprove, I ran downstairs, booted up my laptop and added it to my reader.I then spent the next 43 hours ignoring things that needed to be done around the house, and only took brief breaks to sleep, eat, write ranty posts and pretend to my kids that I wouldn't rather be reading.Was it worth the wait?  Oh, hell yes.So now it falls to me to try to convince you all that this book is perfect for your summer reading lists without spoiling the crap out of it.And that's the problem.All of the things that impressed me the most, that will stick with me and cause me to re-read the series again from the beginning are things that you don't want to know going in.I thought when I started reading that I could tell everyone this would be a decent place to start, that reading the first two books wouldn't be necessary because this stands so well on its own.Heh, SO.  WRONG.I mean, okay - so the recap of the previous two is handled deftly and in such a manner that you won't be LOST if you don't read them BUT the final third won't have as much impact if you're going in blind.Here's what you need to know before starting:Sam Thornton made some poor decisions in life, for the best possible reasons.  Because of those poor decisions, he's stuck spending his afterlife as a Collector for Hell.  He tracks down the people who's souls are owed, working alongside his handler, Lilith (yes, THAT Lilith).  The first book deals with a Collection that shouldn't be happening, the second is more of a buddy film road-trip.  Both are excellent, but neither are as good as this one.We get the story of Sam's first ever Collection, and OH MAN IS IT A DOOZY.  There are other things that all tie back into what we've read before, and you really get a sense that the development we see here has been building since book one.The Big Reap is the most ambitious of Holm's Collector stories so far, and the payoff at the end is huge.  HUGE.What I think you should all do is set aside a portion of your summer for these books.  This one drops July 30, so go get the first two AS SOON AS YOU FINISH READING THIS (the paperbacks are less than $8 and the kindle editions are $4.19 right now, you can't afford not to get them, really), then pre-order The Big Reap.You can thank me later....or, I mean - you can thank Holm for writing the stories, but THEN you can thank me for making you read them.[pats self on the back for not giving anything away]Originally posted here.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    Sam has been given the almost impossible and deadly task of killing the Brethren. Once human, The Brethren have been transformed into horrific monsters who inflict untold cruelty on humanity. Interspersed with his present day mission Sam flashes back to his very first mission to collect the soul of Adolf Hitler. The Big Reap is a jewel in the Collector series crown and Chris F. Holm pulls out all the stops in book 3. It is beautifully written, gripping story with action and character development Sam has been given the almost impossible and deadly task of killing the Brethren. Once human, The Brethren have been transformed into horrific monsters who inflict untold cruelty on humanity. Interspersed with his present day mission Sam flashes back to his very first mission to collect the soul of Adolf Hitler. The Big Reap is a jewel in the Collector series crown and Chris F. Holm pulls out all the stops in book 3. It is beautifully written, gripping story with action and character development in equal measure. Sam is a truly engaging character and the most noble bad guy in town. More background is given as to how Sam came to be a collector largely through the Sam's memories of his first mission. Lilith is back as Sam's anchor to the dark side and the reader gets to watch their relationship develop and unfold. I can't say enough good things about The Big Reap. It is clearly worth more than the 5 stars I was able to give it. Holm is a masterful writer and this is a fantastic series.
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  • Experiment BL626
    January 1, 1970
    Book 3 was a game changer much to my enjoyment.+ the charactersSam finally made full use of his power as a Collector by choosing to ride living people as his meat suit. In previous books, his modus operandi was to ride the recently deceased because he wanted to avoid embroiling the living, i.e. the innocents, in his business of Hell. Now, he had few qualms in using the living, selectively of course, to accomplish his missions, and he didn’t wallow in useless emotions when bad things happen out o Book 3 was a game changer much to my enjoyment.+ the charactersSam finally made full use of his power as a Collector by choosing to ride living people as his meat suit. In previous books, his modus operandi was to ride the recently deceased because he wanted to avoid embroiling the living, i.e. the innocents, in his business of Hell. Now, he had few qualms in using the living, selectively of course, to accomplish his missions, and he didn’t wallow in useless emotions when bad things happen out of his control as they often do in his job. He became the formidable hunter a Collector was always meant to be, and I was elated.Essentially, Sam realized some of his idealist principles weren’t working out and that he needed to be practical about things. He recognized that being practical didn’t mean being ruthless and in effect a sociopath. Sam still helped the innocents whenever he could but when they didn’t listen and did stupid things that got them killed he didn’t kick himself over it.Sam was smart and fierce. Admittedly, he did have a moment or two of stupid, especially in the beginning when he accepted a ride from a stranger, something a kid knows not to do. However, he more than made up for it by kicking one Brethren’s ass after another throughout the book by use of ingenuity. The Brethren were deadly villains but Sam turned the table on them. I loved how it was the Brethren, for all their powers, who were doing the running away and hiding.One of my favorite scenes was when Sam had the cunning to call for backup and counter-trapped the trappers. Undead Gio and his human transexual blind girlfriend Theresa from book 2 returned! Holy hell! I was amazed that Gio was still alive/undead considering the fact that was he was a rotting corpse. And Theresa, she was still as bold as ever. I loved how the gang, along with another surprise of a character, briefly reunited to do another round of asskicking.Lilith also had a part in the book, a major one that went beyond her role as Sam’s handler and occasional assistant in asskicking. How things resolved at the end with her was bittersweet, and I have to say God is such an asshole. If there was a character who was the real wicked mastermind, it wasn’t Simon or Grigori or predictably Lilith; it was God.+ the plotSimilar to previous books, book 3 irregularly shifted in its timeline, cycling from the present to the recent past of how the present came to be and to the far past of where it all started. The far past took reader back to Sam’s first mission as a newly pressed Collector and his first meeting with Lilith. I really liked how for Sam’s first mission he had to take Hitler’s soul. It was one of the many things in which the book used history to embellish its urban fantasy world building.I generally despise flashbacks and this series has been no different, but for the first time in the series, I didn’t despise them in book 3. The flashbacks had Lilith and Hitler and Nazis! In previous books, the flashbacks interrupted the flow of suspense and bored me. In book 3, they contributed to the suspense and I was rapt.The series continued its affair with sobering endings. As usual, Sam’s future was left in the air. However, because of how much I enjoyed book 3, the ending didn’t get on my nerves like usual.In ConclusionI rate The Big Reap 3-stars for I liked it. Book 2 fell short of my liking, but book 3 caught up and then some more. I found it amusing how while all these things with Sam in the present were happening, the on-going apocalypse, which commenced in book 2, served as the backdrop in book 3.
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  • Joe Jones
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to manage to get an arc of this book which does not come out until July 30. This is book 3 in the Collector series following Dead Harvest and the Wrong Goodbye. Fans of the series will be very happy to read about Sam's latest adventures. This series just keeps getting better and better! No doubt this will be on my best of the year list and one I recommend to as many people as possible.
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  • Mieneke
    January 1, 1970
    Since the publication of Chris F. Holm's first Collector novel, Dead Harvest , I've been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam's dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it's a word play off of Chandler's book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn't have thought of. Like the p Since the publication of Chris F. Holm's first Collector novel, Dead Harvest , I've been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam's dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it's a word play off of Chandler's book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn't have thought of. Like the previous book, The Big Reap retains the gritty, noir flavour in its story-telling, but in some places it’s actually a little darker in tone than anything that went before.The plot seems rather linear with Sam charged to go and take out the Brethren, a group of rebel Collectors. But it turns out to be far twistier than that. I liked the notion of the Brethren being the people even Hell can't handle and the various members of this exclusive group we meet are suitably unpleasant. He gets to play a game of follow-the-bread-crumbs with these Brethren, being put on the trail of the next one by Lilith once he defeats his current target. The Brethren are a corrupted and twisted lot, but at the same time they're also tragic figures, driven mad by immortality. In many ways what remained of them was less than human and it seems as if killing them was more a mercy than a punishment.As with the previous books we learn more about Sam's past in The Big Reap. In this story we witness his own Collection, subsequent awakening as a Collector and his first reap, which is an epic one. We also learn more about Lilith and their complicated friendship. I love that we learn more about Sam and his relationship with Lilith. She was one of the most intriguing characters in the series to me and it was great to learn more about what makes her tick and why she was set to be Sam's handler. Through Lilith we also learn more about the way Heaven and Hell are ordered and why Collectors have to be doomed souls instead of just the Devil's demonic minions. Holm manages to squeeze in more world-building and still give us the sense that there is yet more to be discovered.At its heart the story told in The Big Reap is about love and what tragic lengths people will go to save the ones they love. It's a tragic story and a timeless one. Through the events of the book the reader discovers that Sam's isn't the only tragic story among the Collectors and it made me curious to learn more about other Collectors. What drove them to make their deal and did they get what they wanted or did it turn out to be as much a pot of fool's gold as Sam's deal was? But there was also a lot of hope in the book especially in the ending, where Sam reclaims some of his humanity, which he's been steadily feeling slip away throughout the narrative.Of course there are characters beyond Sam and Lilith in the book, but most of them are rather secondary to the novel, except for the Brethren and some old friends who make cameo appearances from the previous books. I loved seeing where Kate had ended up and I positively cheered when Theresa and Gio made their entrance. It was great to see old friends, but I also liked how Holm worked them into the story without making it a 'getting the band back together'-device. They come in, do their thing, and then don't hang around to be Sam's Scooby Gang. They have their own things to deal with, which I thought was clever, as it affords us the pleasure of seeing some great characters return, without that return infringing on the core of the narrative.With The Big Reap Holm continues his Collector series in style. While the narrative ends at a full stop, I whole-heartedly hope this wasn't the last we've seen of Sam Thornton and friends as I just enjoy his character and the tone of the series so damn much. While The Big Reap can be appreciated on its own, if you haven't read any of the books before, I strongly suggest you start at the beginning with Dead Harvest as not only will you get far more from The Big Reap, you'll also be in for two fantastic reads. Whatever Chris Holm writes next, I'll be there to read it, but I sincerely hope his robotic overlords decide to get him to write more Collector books. And I'm willing to bet once you meet Sam and company, so will you.This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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  • Milo (BOK)
    January 1, 1970
    Read The Review Here: http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/06/.... "“A page turning story that will have you on the edge of your seats from the get go. Chris F. Holm’s third outing for Sam Thorton delivers a great storyline, and provides readers with the best novel in the series yet. Fans of the previous two books will love this one.”" ~The Founding FieldsIf the previous Collector novel, The Wrong Goodbye, was a pulp/urban-fantasy style roadtrip, then The Big Reap barrels forward with a similar str Read The Review Here: http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/06/.... "“A page turning story that will have you on the edge of your seats from the get go. Chris F. Holm’s third outing for Sam Thorton delivers a great storyline, and provides readers with the best novel in the series yet. Fans of the previous two books will love this one.”" ~The Founding FieldsIf the previous Collector novel, The Wrong Goodbye, was a pulp/urban-fantasy style roadtrip, then The Big Reap barrels forward with a similar structure to a video game storyline, Sam Thorton is sent after one target after the other, and they become harder to kill as the story goes on, before delivering one final twist. It sounds as if you’ve heard it before – and you probably have. But that doesn’t stop The Big Reap from being an incredible, engrossing book, allowing for a really spectacular read, helped by strategically placed flashbacks to the final months of the Second World War, and Sam’s first outing as a Collector, leaving you with a great sense that if this was indeed a Trilogy like I had first thought with my review for The Wrong Goodbye, then this would be a more than suitable last hurrah for everybody’s favourite Collector of Souls. However, it’s not – and I really can’t wait to see where Holm takes the reader next."Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?"Sam is still as strong a character ever. His narration is what carries the book, and for those of you who have a problem with Kevin Hearne’s 2,000 year old druid running around spurting pop culture references left right and centre, then you should find Sam just right up your street. In one of the book’s most amusing sequences, he finds himself in the body of a Skrillex-listening teenager, and the paragraphs where Sam attempts to get the subsequent music player to stop working prove that Holm can write humour as well as anyone. The book is filled with bleak humour outside of this moment, mainly helped by Sam’s narrative, and quips that become part of his charm. He still maintains disobedience for his superiors, such as calling Lilith “Lily”, and it’s really fun watching this character try and get himself out of various situations.It’s one of those books that works best if you go in without being spoiled. Most people who are reading this review will have read Books One and Two by now, but Holm can still throw a few surprises at the reader and The Big Reap is far from predictable. I love the way that Holm ties Sam’s first Collection flashback story with the events currently happening in the present – and if you’ve expected something minor for Sam’s first outing, then thing again. He’s literally thrown in at the deep end with this, and when at the end of the first chapter I knew who they were going to kill, I literally didn’t see that one coming. Here’s a recommendation – if you get the chance to view any preview pages of this book before buying it, don’t. You’ll get a lot more satisfaction of you know that you’ve got the whole story to fall back on. Also, can we say that thanks to that last line, The Big Reap now boasts the best first Chapter in an urban fantasy book ever?The action, despite seeming slightly formulaic at first, is nonetheless engrossing. It takes place in a variety of locations and Sam’s hunt brings him across many places in the world to try and look for the Brethren, a mysterious and mythical group of former Collectors who have thrown away their ties to Hell, and it’s very interesting to see how things develop as the novel goes on. It’s a truly page-turning read, and also – I highly recommend that you don’t read this on a bus if you want to get off at your stop. I barely managed to get off where I wanted to, and that’s only because my stop was the last in the route. It’s easily the most page-turning of all the novels in the series, and proves to authors like James Patterson and Dan Brown, that you don’t need one paragraph chapters to tell a fast-moving book.VERDICT: 5/5THE COLLECTOR SERIES: Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye, The Big Reap,
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so happy I got the ARC of this from Netgalley. So happy! There were aspects I didn't like much at first that actually, yeah, I really started liking them as things developed. I loved that we got to see characters from the previous two books (however briefly), and that the whole Lilith plot thread developed further (and developed the way it did). I was so prepared to love this series based on the fact that it was a pastiche of Chandler et al alone, but now I love it for its own merit, too.Thi I'm so happy I got the ARC of this from Netgalley. So happy! There were aspects I didn't like much at first that actually, yeah, I really started liking them as things developed. I loved that we got to see characters from the previous two books (however briefly), and that the whole Lilith plot thread developed further (and developed the way it did). I was so prepared to love this series based on the fact that it was a pastiche of Chandler et al alone, but now I love it for its own merit, too.Things that stand out to me as I try to write this: the smart tie-ins with history, the philosopical side of it, the fact that Sam has to do some moral squaring away at the end, Lilith, the Twilight reference.Some stuff that felt less awesome: the target of Sam's first Collection, some predictable notes of the plot that just felt too easy or too obvious, the fact that I have no more of this series to read.
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  • Kate Sherrod
    January 1, 1970
    Stop me if you've heard this one. Boy gets job. Boy hates job but is totally, totally trapped in it so he does the best he can at it according to his lights. Boy's boss gives him an important new project that's finally going to put his talents to use. Boy finds out that this only makes his job suck more. Once again, there is no girl, nor is there a spoon. Well, there is a woman (we do like being called women when we reach adulthood)* but she's pretty much off limits, because she's the boss.I'm p Stop me if you've heard this one. Boy gets job. Boy hates job but is totally, totally trapped in it so he does the best he can at it according to his lights. Boy's boss gives him an important new project that's finally going to put his talents to use. Boy finds out that this only makes his job suck more. Once again, there is no girl, nor is there a spoon. Well, there is a woman (we do like being called women when we reach adulthood)* but she's pretty much off limits, because she's the boss.I'm pretty sure we can all relate to this one.The Big Reap is the latest in Chris F. Holm's Collector series, and a book I've been eagerly anticipating. I enjoyed the first two so very, very much. But since one of the big questions I had going into it was, could it possibly be as awesome as was The Wrong Goodbye?** That's always a dangerous question to be asking as one begins a book, and I dislike having such questions on my mind as it's a strong indicator that I'm not going to be enjoying the book solely on its own merits (see also my experience with Doctor Who: Harvest of Time, the other book I was dying to get my hands on this summer).But really, The Wrong Goodbye was one of my favorite things I read last year. And here we are, returning to the weird, sad, funny, outrageous world of Sam Thornton once again, so how can I not compare? How can my expectations not be high?This is not to say that they weren't met, or more precisely not met at all. But there was something missing this time around, for me, and I'm not just talking about hospital/morgue hijinks as Sam steals his next body to inhabit.*** I've been having trouble putting my finger what it is that's felt missing, though.Partly, I suppose, it's that each successive novel has almost felt like it was playing for more modest stakes than the last. In Dead Harvest, Sam was only focusing on saving one girl, but in saving that girl he was also saving the world from an all-out war between Heaven and Hell; in The Wrong Goodbye he was trying to collect a particularly nasty soul, the possession of which might give one side an undue advantage over the other; in The Big Reap he's really just kind of acting as a janitor or errand boy. He's taking on, in the process, some seriously grotesque and powerful monsters, monsters that turn out to have had an undue influence over human history, but even after Holm brings back a few much-loved characters from the prior two books to help out (and be put in danger), Sam's jeopardy now feels like Doctor Who jeopardy, except for one thing that I can't talk about without spoiling everything.The book is still, though, a fine, fine addition to a series that I enjoy a lot -- it made me want to re-read its predecessors, the better to admire how he's constructed the story arc (and believe me, it's worth admiring) -- but I'm not sure, if I hadn't read those books, if this book would have made me want to. As part of the series, it's still pretty satisfying, but as a stand-alone work, less so.I still, make no mistake, read the whole thing in as few sittings as I could manage, with no flitting to other books like I do. And doubtless this will always be my way, with Mr. Holm.For Holm has carefully left room for more Collector books to happen, and I'll be along the ride if/when he does -- I'm especially interested to see what Sam's stories are like without [REDACTED] -- but I hope he starts thinking a little bigger for them again.Or more intimate. Because on the whole, I prefer smaller and more intimate stories. If your theme is eternal cosmic conflict, though....? Holm balanced this beautifully in the first two books. Here, he just went for a video game-style quest narrative with flashbacks. But you know what? Holy crap, do I want to play this as a video game now.Which probably says more about me than about the book.I still suspect that Mr. Holm has yet to peak and is only going to get better. Keep watching this guy.*Well, except when "woman" is used in place of our proper names. That's a bit crass.**Yes, his titles are all riffs on famous crime novel titles. I love this about Holm.***For those of you who haven't read my prior reviews or the books, Sam is a sort of ghost, whose job is to collect the souls of the damned, and he has to borrow bodies from the living or the freshly dead to do it. In the first two novels, he stuck to newly dead ones for ethical reasons -- crowding a living mind and soul out of the driver's seat of its own body is kind of a dick move, yo -- but in this novel, for a variety of perfectly justifiable reasons, he's mostly piloting living bodies. A bit of tasty conscience wrestling thus occurs, but not that much, because its one of this world's conceits that every time Sam possesses a body, he leaves a little of his humanity behind when he leaves the vessel, and he's been doing this for something like 60 years as most of this story takes place.
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  • Jeff Dick
    January 1, 1970
    My name is Cheffo and I’m a Holm-a-holicI didn’t mean for this to happen.Hell, a year ago I didn’t know who Chris F. Holm was.Somebody, somewhere in the Twittersphere posted something about some war between the covers of Dead Harvest and Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. Curious to see what could possibly compare to Joey HiFi’s beautiful rendering of Miriam Black, I rushed over and (like a dutiful little minion) cast my vote against the pulpy goodness of Dead Harvest.But I was intrigued.Clever title. C My name is Cheffo and I’m a Holm-a-holicI didn’t mean for this to happen.Hell, a year ago I didn’t know who Chris F. Holm was.Somebody, somewhere in the Twittersphere posted something about some war between the covers of Dead Harvest and Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. Curious to see what could possibly compare to Joey HiFi’s beautiful rendering of Miriam Black, I rushed over and (like a dutiful little minion) cast my vote against the pulpy goodness of Dead Harvest.But I was intrigued.Clever title. Creative cover design. Memories of books from my youth. Creased and stained. Well-loved. Never discarded.So I fired up KindleGadget and clicked away. Read it and wanted more, so I went back and clicked again. “Hey, he’s got a collection of shorts on sale.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Hey, he’s got a story in this collection over here.” And again. A quick look at today’s KindleGadget shows that I have 3 Collector Series, 2 collections of Chris F. Holm shorts and at least 1 anthology containing his stories.Somewhere I crossed a line and there is no way back.Sammy Got Some SwaggerFor me, The Collector has always been the best part of the series that bears his name. I loved watching him in Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye as he moved uncomfortably, even regretfully, through his world, trying to save ours.It seems that Sam Thornton has taken one too many trips to Guam and stopped by the duty-free for a couple of bottles of Smart-Ass and a gallon jug of Bad-Ass. There is no hesitation nor any self-deprecation as he proceeds with his assigned task of destroying the Bretheren (a group of former collectors who long-ago escaped indenture and have been hiding in our world ever since).Sam finally seems to be comfortable in other people’s skins and it rings through in the narrative, conjuring cheers of laughter as I read. Old friends and frightening new, yet familiar, enemies round out the cast and we finally get a good look at Lilith, the sultry handler from hell. Each new reveal feels like a forgotten gift found hidden against the wall under the backside of a Christmas tree.A Collector story would not be complete without the deft application of flashbacks to shed a little light on the world of The Collector and his journey through it. As in the previous two books, the backstory and exposition do not interfere, but rather complement the narrative. I particularly liked the contrast as we watch Sam’s character change. And change again.Holm closes The Big Reap by opening a door and giving us a brief glimpse at what might be.I can’t fucking wait. (originally posted at cheffojeffo.wordpress.com)
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  • JK
    January 1, 1970
    ARC from NetGalley.This was another great addition to the series, but it was not without its weaknesses. I enjoyed the overall plot, but not the execution. Sam's job this time around was to eliminate The Brethren and from the get-go this seemed awesome. It really seemed like this would be a time to explore his character and the dangers of the job, but the rushed episodic nature of this story left me wanting more. I wanted to really see some kind of consequence for what happened, but each time th ARC from NetGalley.This was another great addition to the series, but it was not without its weaknesses. I enjoyed the overall plot, but not the execution. Sam's job this time around was to eliminate The Brethren and from the get-go this seemed awesome. It really seemed like this would be a time to explore his character and the dangers of the job, but the rushed episodic nature of this story left me wanting more. I wanted to really see some kind of consequence for what happened, but each time the story just jumped to the next 'mission.' I feel like this would have worked better if this was an overarching plot for a few books, maybe not in a row but overall. Alas, that isn't happening. Too often anymore authors rush a story instead of letting it slowly grow.I really wish a couple of these villains (heh, villains) could have stuck around longer because Holm really knows what he is doing when he creates them, but again, everyhing is so rushed you get the barest glimpse of them.So yeah, I didn't like the pacing but I still enjoyed the heck out of Holm's imagination, the characters, and the overall style of the writing. I liked that events and charcters from previous books were present, that gives the overall series some cohesiveness.I am happy with where the story left off, even if it seems too soon, I am definitely eager to read the next book in the series to see exactly where Sam will end up. I'll also add thst even though I've been given the chance to read this early, and for free, that I will still buy a copy when it is released. I enjoyed it that much.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    ONE STARUnreadable. A character I thought was maybe growing between books just seems to have shifted and thinned out as the series progressed. The series sets rules and then goes about working outside of them. The central character finds out things as he goes (his now-widow's pregnancy, for instance), and then he always knew them - with no mention of having to have things pointed out to him first - as of the following book. In the process of breaking his own rules, he also makes an arrangement t ONE STARUnreadable. A character I thought was maybe growing between books just seems to have shifted and thinned out as the series progressed. The series sets rules and then goes about working outside of them. The central character finds out things as he goes (his now-widow's pregnancy, for instance), and then he always knew them - with no mention of having to have things pointed out to him first - as of the following book. In the process of breaking his own rules, he also makes an arrangement to stretch medical science beyond breaking point to just patch it up with nonsense mysticism and magic (for instance, the continued life of the Brethren member the main character meets near the start). It's just all such weak storytelling. As is suddenly switching genres from (I think) urban fantasy to a hybrid with historical fiction. That's right, angels, demons, gods, and the like now mixed with people from Nazi-era Germany. A prologue about going off to kill Hitler. I do not think a weaker, shallower, more unimaginative plot could have been come up with for a character who initially incarnates sometime after 1944 could have been thought up. I don't even care whether that's where it ends up. The level of plot holes, boring writing, bad science, genre change, and betrayal of the previously defined universe just left me long past caring. Book one, great. Book two, slower, but good. Book three, never, ever would I recommend it.NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, RECOMMENDED
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Looking back, I almost regret being so vaguely snooty about the first book in this series. Holm has grown into the series and as a result deserves notice as one of the most exceptional writers working in the genre today. His faculty with language - presenting beautiful, thought-provoking digressions & conversations on MAJOR philosophical & religious issues... then hitting you with a hilarious smartass remark from Sam - is matched only by his evident joy in putting this story on the page. Looking back, I almost regret being so vaguely snooty about the first book in this series. Holm has grown into the series and as a result deserves notice as one of the most exceptional writers working in the genre today. His faculty with language - presenting beautiful, thought-provoking digressions & conversations on MAJOR philosophical & religious issues... then hitting you with a hilarious smartass remark from Sam - is matched only by his evident joy in putting this story on the page. Even when it veers towards the outrageous or the predictable, you don't really care, simply because you're having as much fun as he is. You don't want to read this one without having read the first two (despite my potential recommendation to read this first, because it's so much fun) - but once you do read that, you'll get to this one in no time and be left gasping for more. It's just damn good stuff.More at RB (and some shade thrown at Life After Life, just because): http://wp.me/pGVzJ-JV
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  • Ummu
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a while to finish this. I don't know if by blaming Pokemon Go and the ton of things that I need to finish can help ease the fact that I delayed my reading(s). Yes, my readings.Anyway, this is a superb series! I love every bit of it!I like the way the author writes too! He managed to create humour during serious scenes.I did not expect the twist at the end. Such a fine lady - Lilith has always been described as quite a charming person (or is it entity since she is not human nor a colle It took me a while to finish this. I don't know if by blaming Pokemon Go and the ton of things that I need to finish can help ease the fact that I delayed my reading(s). Yes, my readings.Anyway, this is a superb series! I love every bit of it!I like the way the author writes too! He managed to create humour during serious scenes.I did not expect the twist at the end. Such a fine lady - Lilith has always been described as quite a charming person (or is it entity since she is not human nor a collector? XD )Sam was tasked to end all of the 9 Brethren. When he reached the last Brethren, that was when he was showed the truth. If I were to be in his shoe, I would have gone rage.And I also do not expect the appearance of Gio, Theresa and Kate.I truly enjoyed reading this!
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    It's been 6 years since The Big Reap was published and I think that's a fair indication that we've read the last of Sam Thornton. Out loss, I assure you.I mention regarding some books about how complicated they can be and not all authors can pull that off. Mr. Holm can and does. In The Big Reap we have lycanthropy, vampirism, The Creature From The Black Lagoon - one of the first horror movies I saw as a kid at the theater and later saw that same creature in a totally different light in the Oscar It's been 6 years since The Big Reap was published and I think that's a fair indication that we've read the last of Sam Thornton. Out loss, I assure you.I mention regarding some books about how complicated they can be and not all authors can pull that off. Mr. Holm can and does. In The Big Reap we have lycanthropy, vampirism, The Creature From The Black Lagoon - one of the first horror movies I saw as a kid at the theater and later saw that same creature in a totally different light in the Oscar winning The Shape Of Water - and Frankenstein's monster. If you're not familiar with the series; Sam Thornton died somewhere around the end of WWII. In fact, his soul was collected (read the book to find out what that means) and after a period of time in an unnamed limbo he too was made a collector under the guidance of Lilith, an immortal who it seems, takes delight in titillating Sam. Mr. Holm gives us a lot of dialog but he gives us a lot of action also, and further, he gives us things to think about regarding gods and demons and devils and what is right and wrong. Sam inhabits the bodies of both the freshly dead or the living, whichever is convenient. If they are living beings when he possesses them they usually are the worse for wear after he uses them, but not always. If you like fantasy mixed with horror mixed with philosophy mixed with a bit of history you should like this series, but be warned, it's not for the squeamish. There is ample gore coming from Holm's pen. But if you can deal with that or, even more, you enjoy that, then this series is for you. Of the three books this was the best. I wish there were more.Oh, and that movie I mentioned, The Shape Of Water? I gave it 5 stars also.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes I take my time getting around to things.It was some time ago that sj started telling me I needed to read Chris F. Holm's Collector series. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her – I did, and I do, especially when it comes to literature – but I just have to defend myself by saying I have a TBR list that’ll last longer than I live. Sometimes I think of it and get super-daunted. I know. There are worse things in the world to stress over. But still. SO MANY BOOKS. SO LITTLE TIME.I read Chris’s Sometimes I take my time getting around to things.It was some time ago that sj started telling me I needed to read Chris F. Holm's Collector series. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her – I did, and I do, especially when it comes to literature – but I just have to defend myself by saying I have a TBR list that’ll last longer than I live. Sometimes I think of it and get super-daunted. I know. There are worse things in the world to stress over. But still. SO MANY BOOKS. SO LITTLE TIME.I read Chris’s two story collections (and reviewed them here earlier in the year) and was immediately blown away by his talent. The Collector series moved up on my list of things to read, but, as mentioned – there are so many things, you guys. Just so, so many.(Side note: Chris could not be more delightful on Twitter, and his wife Kat is SIMILARLY delightful, so it made me feel severely terrible that I hadn’t read all of his books yet. How many people are lucky enough to have amazing authors as friends? Not many. I needed to step it up. Also, in news of EXCITEMENT, Chris and Kat are coming to my TOWN! In September! AND I GET TO MEET THEM! Sorry. Sorry. Little geekout, there. It happens. But I had to have them all read by September, right? How could I meet him without having them read? RUDE.)I did, however, go on vacation a couple of weeks ago. And the power was out the first three days I was there. So it was a little hard to read paper books by candlelight. However, my Kindle worked just fine. And what better to read by candlelight in a dark cabin in the woods than a book about a collector of souls?Three hours later, at one in the morning, I looked up and REALIZED it was one in the morning.Yep. Hooked. Like a big ol’ fish.You guys, these books are severely seven flavors of awesome.I’m going to try VERY HARD not to spoil any of you. Because I want you all to immediately go out and buy the first one. Which will hook you, like it hooked me. Then you will buy the second one. And the third one. And, like me, sit impatiently waiting for the NEXT one, which will, no doubt, be a while from now because the third one just came out, and DAMMIT am I one impatient little monkey.In Dead Harvest, we meet Sam Thornton. He accidentally sold – and then lost – his soul to a demon in the 40s; his hell is that he has to live his eternity collecting souls from others in the same situation he was in. All Collectors get a handler; he is handled by Lilith. Yes, that Lilith. She is just as awesome and awe-inspiring as you might imagine.He is tasked to collect a soul from a teenage girl who slaughtered her family. Easy enough. That’s a soul meant for hell, right? Well, not so much, actually. Because when Sam shows up, the girl’s actually an innocent. And Sam does what a Collector has never done before. He refuses to take her soul.This does not go down well with the various powers that be that exist in his world.In The Wrong Goodbye, Sam shows up to collect a soul – only the soul has already been collected. Which sets a series of events in motion that involve Charon, treacherous friends, a low-level mobster on the run, a kickass transgender stripper, and oh, yeah, possibly an event that might wipe a ton of humans off the map. So, just your average day at the office, then.In The Big Reap (which was released July 30 – it’s sparkly-new, you guys!), Sam finds out he’s been assigned to collect the souls of nine collectors gone rogue. Or possibly die trying, as they’re ancient and powerful and pretty darn evil. Doesn’t matter – once you’re sent on a job, it’s not like you can hide under the bed and wait for it to go away.That’s all I’m telling you, because I want you to go into these knowing as next-to-nothing as I did.Here’s what you need to know:The characters are so fully-formed and realistic you feel like you’re completely in the world the minute you start reading. There aren’t many books, especially in this genre, this realistic. (It’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve got this world of fantasy, yet you’re putting real people in it. It’s easy to give up and make the people as fantastic as the world.) Chris doesn’t cop out. The people are real. And listen. You love them. You finish the first book, you pick up the second book –and it’s like coming home.For whatever genre this is (fantasy noir? I’m saying that’s what it is. It probably has some fancy-schmancy name I’m not aware of) it’s also two things you wouldn’t expect – funny as hell and truly touching. You’re going to cackle at some of the plot twists and some of the clever turns of phrase, and you’re going to get so close to the characters that their pain is yours (and their triumphs are yours as well.)Chris is a very, very good writer. He’s got some plot twists that crop up along the way that, when you realize what’s happening, make you thrill with the creativity with them. I lost track of the number of times I exclaimed out loud over something he’d done.Other than that: you’re on your own. I’m not spoiling you any more than I already have.You need these books. You need to meet Sam and Lilith; you need to learn why it’s totally a dick move to smoke in a borrowed meat-suit; you need to find out whose soul was the very first that Sam collected; you need to know where you end up if you get killed on the job (Guam. It’s almost always effing Guam.)Me, I’m going to be waiting over here patiently for the next installment. And for September, when I can properly geek out with the author in person over these books, which have made me so happy I want to yell at everyone who hasn’t read them yet, like sj did to me all those months ago, “WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THE COLLECTOR SERIES YET?”Only, you know, in a much less all-caps shouty way. Like the lady I am, dammit.(Previously published at Snobbery)
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  • Laura Koerber
    January 1, 1970
    Weird dark series with flashes of humor, lots of action, and characters to care about. This is the last book in the series. I recommend the whole thing with the caveat that the first book is the weakest.The premise is that the main character sold his soul and must, in his after life, serve as a reaper of souls destined for hell. So he roams the earth killing horrible people. A gloomy, depressing, pointless existance--when things are going as they are supposed to. But, of course, shit happens, so Weird dark series with flashes of humor, lots of action, and characters to care about. This is the last book in the series. I recommend the whole thing with the caveat that the first book is the weakest.The premise is that the main character sold his soul and must, in his after life, serve as a reaper of souls destined for hell. So he roams the earth killing horrible people. A gloomy, depressing, pointless existance--when things are going as they are supposed to. But, of course, shit happens, so he gets involved in mysteries and conflicts which provide a story arc. Each book in the series has its own story arc and there is an over-reaching arc for the trilogy.The author has a gift of interesting story lines, sometimes scary as heck, sometimes hilarious. and sometimes satrical. This is not your standard horror series. It is witty, funny, sometimes touching and evocative. The writing is the kind you don't notice while reading: never clunky, smooth enough to allow the reader to concentrate on the story without beinng destracted by the words and sentences.
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  • Michael Tildsley
    January 1, 1970
    This book is phenomenal. I highly recommend it and the whole series. Great story, and I really hope the author continues the series.The whole book is a step up in action from the previous two in the series. It was hard to put the book down, especially toward the end, but I don't want to give anything away. Suffice to say, the ending really pays off in a huge way, and the book manages to achieve something bigger than its noir pulp fantasy premise.
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  • Vanessa Delamare
    January 1, 1970
    My full review here : http://vanessa-s-bookshelves.blogspot...What I think of itI loved it! The best of the three books. Holm better controls his characters, his universes and his collector, Sam. Speaking of Sam. We feel that he distances himself from his human side: he finds it more and more easy to "wear" a living human, whereas in the first books he sought only corpses (I recall that Sam is a damned soul who can't live by himself, but must have a body). We follow his questioning because he do My full review here : http://vanessa-s-bookshelves.blogspot...What I think of itI loved it! The best of the three books. Holm better controls his characters, his universes and his collector, Sam. Speaking of Sam. We feel that he distances himself from his human side: he finds it more and more easy to "wear" a living human, whereas in the first books he sought only corpses (I recall that Sam is a damned soul who can't live by himself, but must have a body). We follow his questioning because he doesn't want to lose his humanity, but we also follow his discoveries about the ease with which he possesses the living. There is an internal struggle between the facilities that brings him a living body (credit cards that work, relatives who do not believe you're dead and scream when they saw you ...) and his intransigence of the beginning when he only sought bodies not to traumatize people and not to risk getting them killed (which is easily done in his occupation). So we learn a little more about what he thinks and feels, on who he is actually!As for the other characters, it was a pleasure to meet back some of the protagonists of the previous books - I won't give their name in order not to screw the pleasure of discovering who returns - even if they're easily guess (because ultimately there is few people we really want to see again, right?) We also learn a lot about Lilith and her story, which I really enjoyed because it allows a better understanding of her actions and reactions.Let's talk about the humor, because one thing is for sure, this book is stuffed of it - as in the previous two books, which makes these über cool books to read. There is a certain ferocity and cynicism in the dialogues that make them as funny as addictive - dialogues that are often followed by action and hordes of hemoglobin! The fact that Sam possesses human gives way to spread very funny quips for those who like black humor (which I love).Finally, the story itself and the action, because this book is full of action. I enjoyed the flashbacks of the first collection of Sam and his introduction by Lilith as a collector because it allows us to see the progress made by Sam who is doing better and better. The flashbacks are found in some places in the text and are so well written that the fact that they cut the story do not interfere at all, on the contrary, because they provide a better knowledge of Sam and Lilith. Some might believe that the act of collecting souls might be a bit deja-vu (in the previous two books) and that it is difficult to make it an interesting concept but Holm yet manages to make a breathless story and not at all boring, because each collecting is different. And action ... Action! By reading this book, I thought several times that it would make a great action movie, a kind of blockbuster that would move!Finally, the weak point of the book (it has to have one right?) Sam is the only collector in charge of collecting the souls of the Brethrens and then I thought, "but why just him. It's not like Hell has shortage of labor, it does not make sense. Ha ha, I have found a flaw in the story? "And well no, the explanation will be given and all will become clear because, dear reader, Chris F. Holm will not let you down, nor leave anything on the sidelines, you'll have the answers to your questions and more. So, no weak spot? Ha! Yes: the book is too short!Well, I guess my review is totally subjective after all, cause I really like that book! In a nutshellA real page-turner to devour without moderation! I highly recommend this book if you like urban-fantasy, black humor and action. This is undoubtedly the best in the series and it will probably not be the last (at least I hope). A must read!
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  • Gef
    January 1, 1970
    I liked Dead Harvest, and I loved The Wrong Goodbye, so I kind of had my hopes up when I started on the first page of the third book of Chris Holm's Collector series, The Big Reap.Sam Thornton has been collecting souls for so long, hopping in and out of bodies and losing a shred of himself each time hes does, that he feels a little less human each day. He's really human anymore anyway, what with selling his soul to save his tubercular wife and serving eternity as a reaper of wayward souls, but w I liked Dead Harvest, and I loved The Wrong Goodbye, so I kind of had my hopes up when I started on the first page of the third book of Chris Holm's Collector series, The Big Reap.Sam Thornton has been collecting souls for so long, hopping in and out of bodies and losing a shred of himself each time hes does, that he feels a little less human each day. He's really human anymore anyway, what with selling his soul to save his tubercular wife and serving eternity as a reaper of wayward souls, but what remains of his humanity feels like it's eroding faster than he had anticipated. The events of the previous two books are finally catching up to him. Now, Lilith has tasked him with hunting down the Brethren, a group of Collectors turned monsters. They're humanity is entirely gone and now that it's been discovered they can be destroyed, that's precisely what Sam has to do.The novel actually feels like a collection of novellas interluded with flashbacks to one of Sam's first collection jobs during World War II. Through the flashbacks, we get a much richer history of his relationship with Lilith and how he got roped in with her private agenda and manipulations. Any time you can mix up Nazis with the occult, it's a fun time seeing those evil buggers get some supernatural comeuppance. Back to the main story, though. The Brethren, those Collectors gone rogue, serve as a wonderful homage to the famous monsters of classic horror. Each one that Sam has to hunt down is reminiscent of iconic characters like Frankenstein's monster, werewolves, vampires, and even one tentacular adversary I particularly enjoyed.Given the episodic nature of each mission Sam goes on in this book, along with the flashbacks, the story can feel a bit disjointed, even jarring with how the focus shifts or jumps back and forth. But The Big Reap actually does more to give readers a closer look into Sam Thornton's past than the two previous novels, and the revelations that come about surrounding his roll as a Collector and his allegiances with those close to him just put this book on a new level. It's still great, pulpy action the whole way through, but it feels like the attention to Sam's character development was intensified a good deal.If you have been keep up with this series thus far, this third installment will not disappoint. Readers new to the series should be able to get a lot of enjoyment from the story, too. The backstory is delivered in drips and drabs that should help newcomers catch up on what's happened already, but you really should check out the first two books to get a full appreciation for the story. Some heartfelt drama amid the horror and hullabaloo make The Big Reap a big standout in the class of 2013. Don't be surprised if it winds up on my favorites of the year in a few months time.
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  • Kristin Taggart
    January 1, 1970
    I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!(Description nicked from B&N.com.)“Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions. However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?”I’m amused by how quickly I took to this series, given that it leans heavily towards noir fiction even though it’s technicall I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!(Description nicked from B&N.com.)“Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions. However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?”I’m amused by how quickly I took to this series, given that it leans heavily towards noir fiction even though it’s technically paranormal fantasy. Sam lived during the early decades of the twentieth century, and I think that Holm has managed to keep that feel in Sam’s personality. It gives him a set of values and ethics that aren’t quite what we hold to in this day and age, but I find that it makes him more likeable. On the other hand, part of this novel deals with Sam’s growing comfort with breaking those values. The biggest one of these is his determination to only use recently dead bodies as his “vehicles”. Initially, he does this to avoid traumatizing a hapless human, but in this book he realizes that a living body is more convenient, and thus he starts using them more and more. This brings up some interesting ethical dilemmas—namely, is this a matter of expedience, or is he losing his humanity after so many decades as a Collector?The flashbacks in this episode center around Sam’s first job as a Collector, a job that turns out to be wonderfully twisted. It also underscores some of Sam’s possible loss of humanity, even at that early stage, with some of his choices of action. I couldn’t decide which part of the novel I liked better between the flashbacks and the current storyline, because believe me, in this case the past is just as intriguing as the present.The other thing that this novel does well, in both the past and the “now”, is explore the relationship between Sam and Lillith. While Holm has gone into this at various points in the other novels, showing both their first meeting and the events of this novel bookend the plot arc of their interactions really well. If this book shows you the inhumanity in Sam, it also gives you a glimpse of Lillith’s humanity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a love story, however, because it’s something different than that.I do hope that Holm keeps writing stories about Sam, because I appreciate reading a novel with a complex and sometimes flawed hero who nevertheless continues to strive for goodness. The Big Reap is both a fun adventure and a subtle reflection on what it means to be human—or humane.This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 12, 2013.http://www.owlcatmountain.com/the-big...
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  • Larry
    January 1, 1970
    Visit us at www.thefoundingfields.com djinn24 reviews The Big Reap, the epic conclusion of The Collector series by Chris F. Holm. This book comes out in print and ebook on July 30th, 2013 by Angry Robot Books.The end of a series is such a bittersweet moment with a series as great as this one. Chris said he wanted to end this strong, he ended it Herculean. – The Founding FieldsCAUTION: This is a review of a book in a series which may contain spoilers about previous books.It’s hard to believe that Visit us at www.thefoundingfields.com djinn24 reviews The Big Reap, the epic conclusion of The Collector series by Chris F. Holm. This book comes out in print and ebook on July 30th, 2013 by Angry Robot Books.The end of a series is such a bittersweet moment with a series as great as this one. Chris said he wanted to end this strong, he ended it Herculean. – The Founding FieldsCAUTION: This is a review of a book in a series which may contain spoilers about previous books.It’s hard to believe that just last year I received an invite to read the first book from Chris F. Holm, titled Dead Harvest. In the time that an author typically releases two books Chris has managed to release three great books and conclude a well thought out trilogy that does not suffer from trilogy syndrome like so many series do. Each book tells its own story primarily while progressing the series in subtle ways. Chris is known horror author, but this series goes well beyond this, each book has this element in it as well as a dose of mystery, action, humor all wrapped into a bundle that will please readers of all types.Sam, a collector of souls from hell is on the job again. Lilith, his handler has a special mission for him. You would think after stopping a war between Heaven and Hell, and a group of rogue Collectors from causing another end of times everything else she could have coming for him would be easy, boy is he in for a surprise! Not only is it going to be the most difficult thing he has done as a collector, he is going to end up in Guam more times then he wishes too.When you get to the end of a series, especially one as well written as The Collector trilogy it’s always sad, and a small part of you wishes there is more to come. While there is tons of room for possible growth of this franchise in the future, it was also concluded in such a way that as a reader you do have that feeling of closure (good job Chris for pulling off both).As with his other books Chris does a good job interweaving several elements of different genres to make a fun, suspenseful, intense read that leaves you with many late nights and tired mornings as you do not want to put this book down. If you read my other two reviews then you know how much I have enjoyed this entire series and this book is no different. Easily this is a must read series as Chris F. Holm has went 3 for 3 with a grandslam right over center field.No thinking about this one, an easy 5/5.Posted in: Advanced Reviews, Angry Robot, Review   Tags: 5/5, Advance Review, Angry Robot Books, Chris F. Holm, Chris Holm, djinn24All Content Copyright 2012 TheFoundingFields.com
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  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    Part action/adventure, part dark fantasy/horror, part thriller, with a touch of history and literary allusions and mythology makes for one spine-tingling, leaves-you-breathless book!Sam Thornton collects souls as an agent for a dark force.  In this book, he is sent to collect the souls of 'The Brethren' -  former collectors themselves.  He can hop bodies and inhabit a living soul, or recently dead one.   Or, if the body he is in is destroyed, he will re-establish himself.  He's the perfect colle Part action/adventure, part dark fantasy/horror, part thriller, with a touch of history and literary allusions and mythology makes for one spine-tingling, leaves-you-breathless book!Sam Thornton collects souls as an agent for a dark force.  In this book, he is sent to collect the souls of 'The Brethren' -  former collectors themselves.  He can hop bodies and inhabit a living soul, or recently dead one.   Or, if the body he is in is destroyed, he will re-establish himself.  He's the perfect collector.Author Chris F. Holm has given us a heroic character, completely, humanly flawed, despite the fact that he is no longer human, and makes him incredibly like-able!  From the comic-superhero-patter dialog, to the shrug-your-shoulders-and-do-your-job attitude, we can't help but like and root for Sam Thornton.  He's a bad-ass reaper without the bad-ass attitude (most of the time).it's hard to say what I liked most about this book without giving too much away.  I liked the location near the end, with his finally realizing ... how do you find someone who doesn't want to be found...do the opposite of what everything points to and ultimately you'll get to where you want (and the others don't want) you to be.  And the characters there -- one expected, when you know the location and the others a surprise -- are also well sullied.  We can feel their exhaustion yet their instinct and fight to remain 'alive.'Although a book three in a series, I never felt as though I were missing a big piece of the picture.  I picked this up and started reading and was immediately immersed in the story.  Anything I needed to know about what happened previously, I was enlightened in the natural flow of the story.  This easily stands alone as its own novel, though I can't wait to go find the first two books, and I'll quickly pick up any new books that might come out.A little bit of back story is interspersed throughout -- Sam's first 'reap' is told (it's quite the job!) as a side (parallel) story, and there's just enough of a hint of a romance that we can wish for something more to happen, even though it seems forever unlikely.And if you've read many of my reviews, you know that I like a high-stakes game.  I want obstacles that challenge our protagonist, and I want the stakes to be high.  Given what Thornton experiences at the end, The Big Reap gives us both.Looking for a good book?  This is top-notch, high quality adventure/dark fantasy at it's finest.This review originally published in the blog Looking For a Good Book.
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  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    This is the third book in a series. I'll be honest, without reading the first two books, this one is probably too full of references to events and characters from those novels to be entirely enjoyable on its own. That said, the first two novels are both pretty darn good and readable, so if you haven't read them, go and give them a try!The Big Reap continues the tales of Sam, the Collector of souls. Unlike the first two novels, this time he doesn't take on heaven and hell, and this time he isn't This is the third book in a series. I'll be honest, without reading the first two books, this one is probably too full of references to events and characters from those novels to be entirely enjoyable on its own. That said, the first two novels are both pretty darn good and readable, so if you haven't read them, go and give them a try!The Big Reap continues the tales of Sam, the Collector of souls. Unlike the first two novels, this time he doesn't take on heaven and hell, and this time he isn't permanently on the run. Instead, this novel sees Sam turned into a bit of a monster hunter. It's a lot more episodic in nature, and while there is a through-line in the plot, the reading experience is quite different. Previously, Sam was out to save an innocent / save his own neck. This time, he's questing away in a much more predatorial capacity. This is probably intentional - the first two novels hinted at the slow erosion of souls / goodness, and in many ways, that is at the very heart of this novel, but it also means our hero feels less heroic. There are plenty of action sequences - so many, in fact, that I skim-read through his various fights and battles with monsters. It's all gone a bit Buffy: wise cracking episodes of monstrous ass-kicking. Unfortunately, for me, that makes the book a little less satisfying than the first two. And, to make things worse, the tale has some seriously pulpy, corny elements, especially surrounding the flashbacks to the first soul that Sam collected. It's that sort of thing which takes a solidly entertaining popcorn read and kind of goes OTT into B-movie pulp-land: it erodes away the suspension of disbelief / willingness to suspend disbelief. Also noticeably absent from the novel are any sidekicks, which means we still get sarky Sam's wisecracks, but his audience largely consists of monologing villains and monsters, so there is little repartee and banter and a strange imbalance to the dialogue. (Sam also gets to travel the entire world, from one remote location to the next. It almost feels like a James Bond / Buffy crossover. Meanwhile, the ever-seductive Lilith gets a much more central role in this novel, too, so even the babe-factor has somehow shot through the roof).All in all, if you have read the first two novels, this one is likely to be relatively enjoyable, too, though not quite up to their standards of engrossing entertainment. If not, then read them first.
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  • Mikel
    January 1, 1970
    My full review is at http://untitledunited.com/2013/12/12/...In The Big Reap, Chris F. Holm again delivers a cracking Collector adventure. As previously seen in the equally entertaining Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is damned to service with Hell as a Collector of souls. Years ago he traded his to save his wife’s life, now he wanders from body to body – some living, some recently deceased – collecting the souls of others who’ve made the same awful trade he did.This time around My full review is at http://untitledunited.com/2013/12/12/...In The Big Reap, Chris F. Holm again delivers a cracking Collector adventure. As previously seen in the equally entertaining Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is damned to service with Hell as a Collector of souls. Years ago he traded his to save his wife’s life, now he wanders from body to body – some living, some recently deceased – collecting the souls of others who’ve made the same awful trade he did.This time around, he’s been sent to dispatch a group of earth-bound monsters known as the Brethren. These former Collectors escaped Hell centuries ago, and have set up camp here as some of our most fearsome monsters. An uneasy truce has existed with them since their escape, but that’s recently been broken. An attempt to do away with them resulted in a cadre of demonic foot soldiers slaughtered, without so much as a scratch to the Brethren. Sam, however, has managed to kill one. Now he’s sent to find and destroy the remaining eight, all from within whatever frail human form he’s inhabiting at the time.Holm has crafted great characters in Sam and his handler, Lilith. The rapport they’ve developed with each other over their years has given their conversations all kinds of subtext, and he writes their banter well. But the quality that makes this series truly work overall is how he’s mastered traditional hard-boiled patter. The distinctive voice of pulp, while it started in the trades, has become more recognizable thanks to classic films like The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity. Whether in the writing of Hammett or the films of Huston, it has a louche, jazzy rhythm that we immediately recognize, and it’s very easy for a writer to get it wrong. The mix of world-weary narration and machine gun dialogue have been used and/or parodied so many times, both well and poorly, that they can kill a book before the plot even gets rolling.The stylized writing Holm uses is both authentically purple and carefully cut to accentuate Sam’s struggle, along with his concern he’s beginning to like his job a little too much.The book breathes, expanding to allow his reflections on his situation before contracting to lean, efficient prose when describing the action and horror, to keep you turning pages.Holm is a serious talent as an author with a particular skill for paying things off in a big way.
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  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    The last thing I remember was dying.The opening line grabs you, right? Want to read what's next? Damn right, you do.Starting just minutes after The Wrong Goodbye ends, we meet up with Sam at the grave of fellow Collector Danny. If you don't remember, Danny was the Collector in the last book who wanted to perform a ritual to free himself from his Collector contract. The ritual was performed by a group of nine Collectors thousands of years ago and produced the Great Flood (you know...the story o The last thing I remember was dying.The opening line grabs you, right? Want to read what's next? Damn right, you do.Starting just minutes after The Wrong Goodbye ends, we meet up with Sam at the grave of fellow Collector Danny. If you don't remember, Danny was the Collector in the last book who wanted to perform a ritual to free himself from his Collector contract. The ritual was performed by a group of nine Collectors thousands of years ago and produced the Great Flood (you know...the story of Noah?). Sam is picked up by a man calling himself Simon Magnusson, who it turns out is actually one of The Nine. He has plans to put Sam in suspended animation, but Sam fights back and ends up killing Simon. Realizing The Nine can be killed, the truce between them and Heaven and Hell is torn apart and Sam is tasked with collecting the souls of the remaining eight.If Dead Harvest was Chris F. Holm's tribute to pulp fiction and The Wrong Goodbye was an homage to road/buddy movies, then The Big Reap is his love letter to the old Universal horror movies. Slogging through The Nine, Sam encounters a Dr. Frankenstein type, a Mexican monster (Chupacabra?), werevolves, and even a Dracula wannabe. This is the creepiest, pulse-poundingest installment of The Collector series yet.Reap is not just about chills and thrills, it's about choices. Our choices define who we are and the choices The Nine, and Sam, have made over the years either enforce or destroy their humanity. In previous books, Sam typically possesses the bodies of the recently dead, but in this one he possesses mostly (entirely?) living bodies. He keeps telling himself it is only because it's the expedient thing to do, but he does start to wonder if he's losing what little remaining humanity he has.I don't know if Holm is cooking up more Collector books, but whatever he writes, I'm going to read it.The Collector series is highly recommended.
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  • Patrick Sprunger
    January 1, 1970
    To say The Big Reap suffers from silliness is a little unfair. The Collector series has built its entire cache on indulgent silliness. Collector stories are engineered for long flights, vacations, and general escapism. They're not exactly literature. Nevertheless, the first two exceeded expectations (for different reasons). The Big Reap was, sadly, more in line with more mainstream expectations for genre fiction.Which is not to say The Big Reap isn't enjoyable. The Collector premise still has a To say The Big Reap suffers from silliness is a little unfair. The Collector series has built its entire cache on indulgent silliness. Collector stories are engineered for long flights, vacations, and general escapism. They're not exactly literature. Nevertheless, the first two exceeded expectations (for different reasons). The Big Reap was, sadly, more in line with more mainstream expectations for genre fiction.Which is not to say The Big Reap isn't enjoyable. The Collector premise still has a lot of miles left on it. Like it's predecessors, The Big Reap will make a fine movie, with multiple boss fights and false endings. Like it's predecessors The Big Reap is a book most people will finish in 2-3 sittings. It was good; just not as good as the first two.Note: Spoiler below!Does anyone remember when Doctor Who was in a mid-season break and then came back with a much touted episode titled "Let's Kill Hitler?" When the Doctor and companions did indeed try to kill Hitler, the actual product fell short of viewer's baited expectations. The Big Reap begins with the exact same teaser and augments the splash with other stock villians from recent history. The end result - like Doctor Who - is a little less than the reader's excited anticipation. The problem certainly isn't that Hitler and Mengele and Dracula and Jack the Ripper aren't titillating. It's that we've been titillated by them so often over the course of our genre consuming lives that they've lost some of their edge. On a psychological and sociological level, this may actually be a huge problem (a society that grows a callus to Hitler's inhumanity to the point that information about Hitler feels staid or boring is in danger of losing its soul). Thankfully that's not a crisis for purveyors of paranormal detective noir to suss out. It does introduce a new bar, however. Purveyors of genre fiction now have to draw on alternative sources for their salacious twists. The good old days are gone; one can no longer, in 2013, whip out Hitler as a go to device for shaking a story up. Frankly, this speaks badly of all of us.
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  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    Sam Thornton’s latest assignment is to hunt and kill the nine members of the Brethren; immortals that resemble a beast/man/monster concoction with powers that far exceed many a supernatural being. His guardian angel (from hell) Lilith, the messenger delivering these ambitious orders, thrusts Sam around the globe from meat-suit to meat-suit in a whirlwind of violence and terror to encounter all manner of nightmarish beings in order to fulfil his mission. Dry humour and wet sticky gore run rampant Sam Thornton’s latest assignment is to hunt and kill the nine members of the Brethren; immortals that resemble a beast/man/monster concoction with powers that far exceed many a supernatural being. His guardian angel (from hell) Lilith, the messenger delivering these ambitious orders, thrusts Sam around the globe from meat-suit to meat-suit in a whirlwind of violence and terror to encounter all manner of nightmarish beings in order to fulfil his mission. Dry humour and wet sticky gore run rampant throughout the third novel in the Collector series. Much like its predecessors, author Chris F Holm maintains a delicate balance between the fantastical and believable. Those who take souls and transpose their conscious into other physical forms to the beastly creations that are the Brethren surprisingly have an air of realism if you suspend your belief enough – which in this series is a must.As a pulp enthusiast with a penchant for the other worldly, THE BIG REAP ticks all the right boxes despite not having the same impact on me as the previous two novels. The linear nature of the plot (taking a hit-man approach to eradicating the Brethren) is offset by Sam’s first collection in Nazi Germany where he is also introduced to Lilith and the confines of being a collector for the first time. It was good to read of Sam’s early struggle to come to grips with his predicament and new found ability. Characters from previous instalments also made an appearance which adds a nice sense of continuity to the series. Their appearance was organic and in line with the natural progression of the plot. Overall I enjoyed THE BIG REAP (love the names of these books) and hope Holm revisits this interesting character and concept once again. This review also appears on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...
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  • David Harris
    January 1, 1970
    This is the third volume in The Collector series after Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye]]. If you haven't read either, you may find this review a bit spoilery, in which case stop now. (In that case I'd also recommend reading the other books first: if you read this book you will probably want to read them anyway, and although this part is perfectly good as a standalone, it does give away a fair amount about their plots).Sam Thornton is The Collector - bound, after agreeing a Faustian bargain, t This is the third volume in The Collector series after Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye]]. If you haven't read either, you may find this review a bit spoilery, in which case stop now. (In that case I'd also recommend reading the other books first: if you read this book you will probably want to read them anyway, and although this part is perfectly good as a standalone, it does give away a fair amount about their plots).Sam Thornton is The Collector - bound, after agreeing a Faustian bargain, to the service of Hell, specifically, collecting the souls of the damned, under control of his "handler" the mysterious and glamorous being Lilith. In the earlier books, we learned how that happened, and some of the politics of Heaven and Hell, as well as the coven of rogue collectors called The Brethren. In this third volume, which picks up directly from the end of the second, Sam turns his attention to them.It's noticeably different in concept to the earlier books: the plot is much less twisty, even more gore-filled and violent (with, I think, one of the most disgusting methods of travel to trouble the gentle reader of a horror novel: just wait) and with fewer plots-within-plots, reverses and revelations. But we have the same wise-cracking, hard-boiled Sam and the same paradox of what (despite his crimes) seems to be a basically good man forced to do Hell's bidding and feeling his soul die a little more with every bodily possession, every reaping he carries out.The book is immense fun, as were the earlier ones, and I don't object to the gore. I've only marked it four stars instead of five because it seemed just a bit... well, plot light I suppose. Perhaps it's best to think of the three books as essentially one story, with this part really the action filled finale? It does feel that way, and I wonder if Holm plans more or if this is really the end?
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