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The Cleaner: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Cleave
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Book Description

Joe is in control of everything in his simple life—both his day job as a janitor for 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. Joe knows, though, that the Carver killed only six. He knows that for a fact, and he’s determined to find the copycat. He’ll punish him for the one, then frame him for the other six. It’s the perfect plan because he already knows he can outwit the police.

All he needs now is to take care of all the women who keep getting in his way, including his odd, overprotective mother and Sally, the maintenance worker who sees him as a replacement for her dead brother. Then there’s 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.

Originally published in 2006 in Cleave’s native New Zealand, where it was a finalist for the prestigious Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction, The Cleaner is a chilling and darkly funny thriller that will leave you clamoring for his next.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)

From Booklist

Joe, the “cleaner,” works days cleaning a police station in Christchurch, New Zealand, but at night he transfroms himself into the Christchurch Carver, a serial killer who has raped and killed six women. The police have linked a seventh victim to the case, but Joe didn’t kill that one, and he’s determined to find out who did and frame that killer for his own murders. Having access to police files makes Joe’s task far less difficult. Joe tells his story in the first person, giving the reader a revealing look into a twisted mind. The police think Joe is simple, as does Sally, the maintenance woman who thinks Joe can fill the void in her life; Joe, on the other hand, knows he is smarter than all of them. He is also dealing with his domineering mother, and that relationship lends additional insight into his character, as does Melissa, a woman after his own heart. Violence and torture are portrayed graphically here, so this book is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. But if you happen to enjoy, say, the works of Chelsea Cain or Thomas Harris, your heart and stomach should hold up fine here. --Stacy Alesi

Product Details

  • File Size: 3514 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,117 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The Cleaner has your common serial killer thriller type novel but also mixed in is a side story of comic twists as characters assume the wrong thing about other characters and that those characters did something the other ones did and other things all with hilarious results, (similar to what Donald E Westlake used to do in his classic comic capers). There's also a wrench scene that comes completely out of the blue in the storyline that will bring tears to any male reader's eyes. I've already ordered Cleave's upcoming novel The Killing Hour because if it is even a fraction as good as The Cleaner it will be one of the best books of 2008!

The basic plot of The Cleaner is a sort of as it happens memoir by a serial killer named Joe who has been terrorising the streets of Christchurch, New Zealand by night. By day he works as a cleaner (hence the title of the novel) in a Christchurch police station where everyone thinks he is mentally retarded, his nick name is slow Joe, a role he's happy to play up. While keeping an eye on the detectives on his case one day he learns another victim has been added to his tally. Not impressed he decides to solve this new murder himself and deal with this framer with his own justice. Joe's mother is also losing her sanity and memory in her old age and for some reason thinks Joe is gay. Meanwhile swayed by heavy religious beliefs and guilt over the death of her own mentally disabled brother maintenance worker Sally always puts in the extra effort to try and help and reach out to Joe. However her talking to him like an idiot does to a baby forms an impression in Joe's mind that she herself is mentally retarded as well.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed story of a serial killer and sexual deviant January 3, 2013
The Cleaner is a detailed story of a serial killer and sexual deviant: Joe. This is a complex story with many social implications. The plot is driven by Joe and is mostly seen from his point of view. This novel is very graphic in terms of how he became a serial killer, how he kills women, how he tries to kill his mother, how he tries to discover the killer who's framing him, and how Joe is stalked by another serial killer himself. It is a tight novel, very gritty and detailed, and at times sickening. I recommend not eating while reading this book.

Review by: Kittybooboo13 / © Night Owl Reviews / Full Review on NOR Website

We received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a new series December 22, 2012
I love "The Cleaner"! I lived in Christchurch when it came out there in 2006 and bought a copy, which I later lost. I'll be buying it again now that it's finally in the U.S. I've read all of Paul Cleave's books, and they're all wonderful reads. While not technically a series, the stories are all set in Christchurch and the same characters keep showing up. Highly recommend for other murder-mystery junkies out there.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CLEANER is amazing. No other word will do January 8, 2013
THE CLEANER is amazing. No other word will do. Paul Cleave, winner of the prestigious Ned Kelly Award, was seemingly born full of talent and has been displaying it since he learned how to properly hold a pencil (though after reading his work, one might be reluctant to stand too close to him while he is holding any sharp object).

Cleave's first novel, originally published in 2006, grabs you on page one, shakes you on page three, and on page five knocks you down and applies the boot. Then it really gets good. Set in Cleave's hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, THE CLEANER is told primarily in the voice of Joe, a serial killer who hides in plain sight. Joe works in the Christchurch Police Department headquarters by day, laboring as a janitor, well-liked by all who believe that the gent who toils uncomplainingly was intellectually short-changed at birth. What the police do not know is that the man who walks among them in their own headquarters and observing their investigations is the man the press has dubbed the "Christchurch Carver" and at whose feet seven victims have been laid. This troubles Joe; in fact, he has killed seven women, but only six have been discovered. The seventh victim, who has been credited to him, belongs to another killer, a copycat as it were.

This is something that Joe cannot tolerate, so he begins an investigation of his own, utilizing the police department's own file. Joe quickly comes to the conclusion that the other murderer may well be a member of law enforcement. However, finding out who may not be as easy as Joe thinks. He has attracted the unwanted interest of a woman named Sally, a maintenance worker who sees in the deceptively simple Joe echoes of her deceased, impaired brother, taken all too early from this world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Guess I am in the minority April 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While the author is a good writer, I didn't like this book at all. I kept wanting to stop reading it, but I also wanted to see how it ended. So, I finished it .. the ending was satisfying, but I am not sure it was worth my time. Just not my cup of tea, I guess.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Cleaner April 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was an interesting premise. The read was easy and held my interest. But it just didn't have the edge of your seat roller coaster ride that I like. This is the first book by this author that I've read. Maybe I will like him more in another book. He is just interesting enough to maybe try again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What a story
Wow, this has to be one of the most unique stories I have read in a while. Joe, the serial killer gives most of the narrative, as he disguises his real self, pretending to be a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Think about this
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Emily Eddy
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st time to read Mr. Cleave but not my last. Really interesting story...
A "Dexter" like character and story and just as enjoyable. The character in this book "Joe" is an interesting serial killer and I look forward to reading more... Read more
Published 7 months ago by David M Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique thriller
I am only on Chapter 17 but I already think this is one of the more unique thrillers I have read. This is one cocky serial killer with mommy issues. Read more
Published 9 months ago by elle woods
3.0 out of 5 stars strangely Entertaining.....
A fast read......Cleave is a very talented writer that isn't afraid of going places others dare not go. Very morbid sense of humor throughout..... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jim F.
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!
This was the first Paul Cleave novel for me.... and I am hooked. The characters are realistic and the writing is well done. Great story line with a couple of nice twists. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Connie
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying Thriller!
Complex characters and nail biting twists. Creepy, dark and eerily satisfying. Cleave gives a good scare! Searching his other works.
Published 13 months ago by Kathleen
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
Terrific book! Sure, it's about a serial killer, but it's funny too. Nasty humor (in a good way). One I my favorite aspects is how he sometimes feels confused or is in denial about... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rena
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh..
I'd heard such good things about The Cleaner and I could not wait to read it; however once I actually started I found myself sighing and rolling my eyes OFTEN!!! Read more
Published 14 months ago by B.C.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Christchurch Carver
This is Paul Cleave's first book; it is also the direct prequel to Joe Victim, his latest book which I read recently. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Nicola Mansfield
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More About the Author

Paul Cleave is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His eight novels have so far been translated into over a dozen languages and nearly 20 territories. He has won the Saint-Maur book festival's crime novel of the year in France, has been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly award, the Edgar Award, the Barry Award, and has won the Ngaio Marsh award for NZ crime fiction.

The New Zealand Listener said that Cleave writes with 'an energy that conventional crime novels lack', and he has been called 'the next Stephen King', 'a rising star of the genre' and 'a writer to watch'. Publishers Weekly have said 'a pulse-pounding serial killer thriller. The city of Christchurch becomes a modern equivalent of James Ellroy's Los Angeles of the 1950s, a discordant symphony of violence and human weakness... the book's real power lies in the complexity of its characters,', and

Cleave numbers among his fans top crime and thriller writers such as Mark Billingham, who wrote: 'Most people come back from New Zealand talking about the breathtaking scenery and the amazing experiences. I came back raving about Paul Cleave.' John Connolly called Blood Men 'dark, bloody, and gripping . . . classic noir fiction', and said that in Paul Cleave 'Jim Thompson has another worthy heir to his throne'. The Lab's John Heath calls Cleave's writing 'uncompromising, unpredictable, and enthralling', adding, 'Made me vomit -- seriously, it's that good.' Simon Kernick said 'Cleave writes the kind of dark, intense thrillers that I never like to finish. Do yourself a favour and check him out,' and S.J Watson said 'An intense adrenalin rush from start to finish. It'll have you up all night. Fantastic!'

His novels are - The Cleaner, The Killing Hour, Cemetery Lake, Blood Men, Collecting Cooper, The Laughterhouse, and later in 2013 Joe Victim (a sequel to The Cleaner) will be released.

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