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The Cleaner: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series) by [Cleave, Paul]
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The Cleaner: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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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: 3758 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Publication Date: 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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,596 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am in the happy position of having 'found' a great new author! This is the second book I've read by New Zealander Paul Cleave and they (also Trust No One) have been terrific. I've gone ahead and ordered several novels from his Christchurch Noir series.

In this book Joe works as a cleaner at the police station. He acts cognitively impaired so the detectives never consider he is anything other than what he appears. It never occurs to them that he is the Christchurch Carver, so he has easy access to files and evidence as he goes from room to room, cleaning.

The narration alternates between the first person narrative of Joe peppered with flashbacks to his past, and occasional third person chapters that focus on Sally, a young woman who works at the department and feels pity, and possily affection, for Joe. His voice is consistent and creepy. We hear his thoughts constantly, on every subject, and it reminds you that you REALLY don't know the person standing next to you on the elevator. It's an unsettling book., and ai can't imagine it was easy to inhabit this character.

What sets this thriller apart is that Joe does not have smooth sailing in his activities. Aside from Sally's well meaning but intrusive actions, Joe meets another woman who is not what she seems, who also interferes with his plans. Poor Joe!.

This book really reminded me of Jo Nesbo's Headhunters, another noir novel filled with unexpected twists and turns, and some wry humor. Cleave takes the well loved serial killer story and gives it a few original twists that work well.

There is a LOT of killing and it is heartless, cold and moderately graphic. The matter-of-fact way Joe talks about his activities and victims is disturbing, but if you can handle it the ending is pretty satisfying.

I can't wait to read more of Cleave's work. Excellent noir, and set in NZ, which is pretty cool. I don't think I've read any other mysteries set in the land of the kiwi.
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