Cleave has become my new favorite author. I love the rough-hewn characters and in-your-face style he presents his readers with. I have devoured all his novels featuring Detective Theodore Tate and so was a little disappointed that “The Cleaner” is a stand-alone novel not featuring Tate. The disappointment lasted all of three chapters and by page forty six, I was so overcome by the pure evil of Joe the killer, the Christchurch Carver, I was tempted to look at the last page to be sure he is finally caught. Luckily I didn’t and found myself spending the whole day entranced in this enthralling story.
Originally released in Cleave’s native New Zealand in 2006, “The Cleaner” was just released in the States. Having orchestrated himself into the police department as simple and slow Joe the janitor, he is able to watch closely over the hunt for what the media have christened The Christchurch Carver. He knows the cops are nowhere close to discovering that he is responsible for the six bodies lying on a slab in the morgue. It is when a seventh is added, a copycat killing, that Joe wanders off course, becoming determined to discover who the killer is.
Between dealing with a busybody of a mother, the infringement of the interest from Sally—a fellow employee at the department who is determined to watch out for Joe as he reminds her of the retarded brother she lost—and a mystery lady who is besotted with police officers, Joe is finally undone by one of the women in his life who accidently stumbles over a simple clue and rats him out. If only he stayed the course and not forgotten he was just simple Joe, he would have become a classic cold case file destined to never be solved, but best laid plans are often overturned by someone else’s interference.
Another gritty storyline exposing the dark city life of Christchurch ensuring all the cities inhabitants stay locked behind closed doors at night, or like me, be kept up all night reading Paul Cleave.