An international bestseller and one of the top-selling novels in New Zealand's history, Paul Cleave's dark thriller is a brilliant, bloody masterpiece. Joe is in control of everything in his simple life, including his day job at the police department and his "night work." He isn't bothered by the daily news reports of the Christchurch Carver, who, they say, has murdered seven women. Joeknowsthe Carver only killed six, and he's determined to find the copy cat killer. He's going to punish him for the one, then frame him for the other six. All he needs now is to take care of all the women who keep getting in his way; his domineering mother is one. Then there is Sally, the maintenance worker who sees him as a replacement for her dead brother; and the mysterious Melissa, the only woman to have ever understood him, but whose fantasies of blackmail and torture don't have a place in Joe's investigation. InThe Cleaner, a finalist for the prestigious Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction, Paul Cleave brings the underbelly of Christchurch to gritty life in the way that Dennis Lehane does for Boston and Tana French for Dublin.
A generic serial killer and an overly drawn out plot mar Cleave's otherwise promising debut, first published outside the U.S. in 2006. Posing as mentally challenged, Joe Middleton is all but invisible to the Christchurch, New Zealand, police detectives whose offices he cleans. The police have no clue that "Slow Joe" is "the Christchurch Carver," a serial killer whose trail of raped and murdered women they are struggling to follow. Of course, this guise ideally suits Joe, who monitors the investigation and makes his next move accordingly. One night, Joe runs afoul of a woman he picks up at a nightclub, who expertly turns the tables and inflicts an injury on Joe that will disturb male readers. Cleave (The Laughterhouse) underscores the banality of evil through his killer, but doesn't sufficiently develop the man's character. Fans of Cleave's later, more polished crime thrillers should be prepared for what is in effect an apprentice work. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory and Company. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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December 10, 2012
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