Reviews for Cleaner

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
A detailed look inside the mind of a remorseless serial killer penned by a New Zealand-based writer who specializes in gore and the gruesome side of crime. Joe, whose name is repeated endlessly by the characters in this book, is a janitor at the Christchurch, New Zealand, police station, where he scrubs urinals, mops floors and vacuums while eavesdropping on the department's investigation into a serial murderer that preys on women. Joe's interest in the killings is not academic or even a matter of morbid curiosity; he is the very busy and exceedingly brutal perpetrator of these homicides. But he's not watching the police to see how close they're getting at the moment; instead his curiosity is based on the murder of a woman who is not his own victim. Incensed that a copycat is also on the loose, Joe decides that the extra murder is the perfect cover for him. His plan is simple: find out who did it and pin all of the homicides on the other killer. Since Joe has access to police records and meetings, he sets out to find out who, if anyone, the cops are looking at as a suspect, but there are complications along the way, including Sally, another janitor who likes him too much for his own good. Cleave's universe is populated with a palpable brutality. The glimpses of insight he offers into his killers' thoughts are simultaneously disturbing and fascinating in a sick sort of way. As a writer, he knows how to grab the reader's attention, but even fans of darker thrillers will find the level of violence in this book disturbing. Cleave has no boundaries he won't cross and no compunctions about writing solely sacrificial characters into his storyline. Except for the constant repetition of Joe's name, the book is well-narrated and interesting, even though it sloshes around in buckets of blood with disturbing cruelty. This story is the literary equivalent of standing on the street beneath a skyscraper watching a disturbed soul teeter on a ledge, threatening to jump. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 July #1

An internationally best-selling author and one of New Zealand's top sellers ever, Cleave reportedly shows us the dark underside of Christchurch the way Ian Rankin shows us gritty Edinburgh. In this latest, the city is sweating over the Christchurch Carver's seven gruesome murders. But Joe, who works for the police, knows that one is a copycat murder, and he determines to find that killer and frame him for the other six deaths. By all accounts, a riveting author who deserves to be better known here.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #1

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.)

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