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The Laughterhouse by Paul Cleave
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Theodore Tate never forgot his first crime scene—ten-year-old Jessica found dead in “the Laughterhouse,” an old abandoned slaughterhouse with the S painted over. The killer was found and arrested. Justice was served. Or was it?

Fifteen years later, a new killer arrives in Christchurch, and he has a list of people who were involved in Jessica’s murder case, one of whom is the unfortunate Dr. Stanton, a man with three young girls. If Tate is going to help them, he has to find the connection between the killer, the Laughterhouse, and the city’s suddenly growing murder rate. And he needs to figure it out fast, because Stanton and his daughters have been kidnapped, and the doctor is being forced to make an impossible decision: which one of his daughters is to die first.

My Thoughts:

The Laughterhouse may well be Paul Cleave's darkest novel but once it gets going, you just can't put it down. The story is told from the point of view of a killer who has determined to revenge the death of his wife and daughter and the police detective who has the biggest reasons to catch him. Though the story is set in Christchurch, New Zealand, it could be anywhere--except for the weather. It's told with such intensity and gripping action that never lets up. What is so compelling is how much the killer and detective have in common when it comes to great loss and emotional trauma. I highly recommended this to anyone who loves an unusual story with plenty of action and characters you've never met the likes of before.
( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Spooky, empty, a shell of its former house the slaughterhouse rendered its last victim years ago until someone bought young Jessica here one last time. Cold, abandoned, and all alone was no way for a young girl to spend her final moments, bleeding out on the floor of the building that local jokesters christened the laughterhouse by removing the ‘s.’ In fact there was nothing funny about it at all.
Theodore Tate was there to witness the depravity of this sad story, one of his first cases. Fifteen years later, he finds himself back at the scene as a new killer stalks the streets of Christchurch. Four more bodies lie on the slab at the morgue until the police figure out there is a link to Jessica’s death fifteen years before. And the fifth victim—a psychiatrist who testified in the original trial—is missing, along with his three young daughters.
Battling his own demons and injuries Tate finds himself accepted back into the police ranks in order to bring this new killer to justice, and time is running out. If he doesn’t find them soon the doctor will have to choose the order in which his young girls die. With the voyeuristic press hard on his heels, his commanding officer suspended and the city’s psychics all offering an opinion Tate not only has to solve the crime but do it all in time to get to the nursing home where his wife, who has been in a coma for three years, has suddenly gained consciousness. With everything on the line, Tate will stop at nothing to find salvation, sanity and put the bad guy away for good.
Paul Cleave has made a believer out of me. Christchurch is a city I never want to visit. This dark, gripping thriller, the latest in the Tate saga, is as hard-boiled as it gets. The surprise ending suspends all belief. Like a TV series that ends its season on a cliffhanger, you won’t want to wait until next year. This will leave the reader clamoring for the next book in the series now!
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
Spooky, empty, a shell of its former house the slaughterhouse rendered its last victim years ago until someone bought young Jessica here one last time. Cold, abandoned, and all alone was no way for a young girl to spend her final moments, bleeding out on the floor of the building that local jokesters christened the laughterhouse by removing the ‘s.’ In fact there was nothing funny about it at all.
Theodore Tate was there to witness the depravity of this sad story, one of his first cases. Fifteen years later, he finds himself back at the scene as a new killer stalks the streets of Christchurch. Four more bodies lie on the slab at the morgue until the police figure out there is a link to Jessica’s death fifteen years before. And the fifth victim—a psychiatrist who testified in the original trial—is missing, along with his three young daughters.
Battling his own demons and injuries Tate finds himself accepted back into the police ranks in order to bring this new killer to justice, and time is running out. If he doesn’t find them soon the doctor will have to choose the order in which his young girls die. With the voyeuristic press hard on his heels, his commanding officer suspended and the city’s psychics all offering an opinion Tate not only has to solve the crime but do it all in time to get to the nursing home where his wife, who has been in a coma for three years, has suddenly gained consciousness. With everything on the line, Tate will stop at nothing to find salvation, sanity and put the bad guy away for good.
Paul Cleave has made a believer out of me. Christchurch is a city I never want to visit. This dark, gripping thriller, the latest in the Tate saga, is as hard-boiled as it gets. The surprise ending suspends all belief. Like a TV series that ends its season on a cliffhanger, you won’t want to wait until next year. This will leave the reader clamoring for the next book in the series now!
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
There are no laughs in The Laughterhouse by Paul Cleave. This is a dark, deeply disturbing, New Zealand noir tale that will leave you hungering to read more. At Theodore Tate’s first murder scene, a young girl was found dead in an abandoned slaughterhouse. She has come back to haunt him and the town of Christchurch, New Zealand, 15 years later. Suddenly people are being murdered in the most horrendous ways and a doctor and his three daughters have been kidnapped. The killer is playing a bit of a game with the police force and Dr. Stanton, who is being physically tortured and is now plagued with the decision of which of his daughters (ages 11, 8 and 1) the madman should kill first. This is a fast-paced gruesome story that you may want to turn away from but just can’t.

This review was originally written for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. ( )
  retropelocin | Dec 19, 2013 |
Another gripping - and slightly nauseating, tale from the New Zealand Master of dark thrillers. Cleave lives here in Christchurch, New Zealand, but is a bestselling author in Europe. All of his stories are set in Christchurch - but not the Christchurch as I know it - its dark and bleak underbelly - where crime is on the rise, the boyracers claim the streets at night, causing accidents and chaos (they used to, actually, but the earthquakes put a stop to that - we don't have smooth roads anymore, and the potholes ruin their suspension). Murder is common place - serial killers, and in this case, a spree killer.

Unlike many crime novels, this is not a "whodunnit" - you know from the start (almost) who the murderer is, and his intentions are revealed in small titbits throughout the plot. It is gripping stuff. The narrator, Theodore Tait, is an ex-cop turned private investigator/bounty hunter who finds his talents enlisted by the police. I believe he may have been the protagonist of some of the earlier novels, but I shall have to look back and see (I've read a few). It all starts 15 years ago, with the death of a ten year old girl at the hands of a psychopath. Fifteen years later, two old men are found, brutally murdered, with cryptic messages scrawled on their foreheads. It is plain that the murderer is acting with intent, and has a plan - but can the police catch on in time to stop another child being killed?

This is thrilling and brutal. At times, I almost felt ill, but I could not put it down. It is fairly bleak, and quite dark and I kinda wanna read more! ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
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"Theodore Tate never forgot his first crime scene - ten-year-old Jessica found dead in the Laughterhouse, an old abandoned slaughterhouse with the S painted over. The killer was found and arrested. Justice was served. Or was it? Fifteen years later, a new killer arrives in Christchurch, and he has a list of people who were involved in Jessica's murder case, one of whom is the unfortunate Dr. Stanton, a man with three young girls. If Tate is going to help them, he has to find the connection between the killer, the Laughterhouse, and the city's suddenly growing murder rate. And he needs to figure it out fast, because Stanton and his daughters have been kidnapped, and the doctor is being forced to make an impossible decision: which one of his daughters is to die first" -- Cover verso.… (more)

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