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The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
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Member:billnad
Title:The Cleaner
Authors:Paul Cleave
Info:Atria Books (2012), Edition: Original, Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
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The Cleaner by Paul Cleave

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English (13)  German (3)  French (2)  All languages (18)
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Note: This book can be read as part of the bigger series of crime novels that all take place in Christchurch, New Zealand. Some characters from those other novels are mentioned here but you don’t have to have read them to understand the context. It works just fine as a stand alone.

As we all know from the book’s description, Joe is the Christchurch Carver, and 7 killings have been attributed to him. But he only killed 6, so he is determined to hunt down this copy cat killer and punish him for overstepping. Right away, I had a little evil chuckle over the idea that serial killers have a code of polite behavior among themselves. Later on, the reader meets Melissa, another killer, and she’s pretty miffed at Joe for breaking her ideas of polite behavior as well. Obviously, things would go much easier for Joe if he had a rolodex of the local killers in Christchurch and could coordinate such things. Alas, to be a serial killer is to be a loner.

Joe likes to play the mentally retarded janitor and that’s how he got the job at the Christchurch police headquarters. This allows Joe all sorts of access to the investigation into his killings. For much of the book, no one is aware of what Joe is. Detective Schroeder, who we’ve seen in other Christchurch crime novels by this author, is unaware of Joe’s real abilities. Even his mother, who is verbally and sometimes physically abusive, finds him subservient. It was a delicious kind of agony to know that Joe is this vicious killer!

The author did a great job of balancing the story – I wanted Joe caught, but not so soon or not so easily because I wanted an interesting tale. The violence is, for the most part, referred to instead of portrayed in grim detail. Though there is one scene where Joe suffers a significant injury that was graphic but since he’s the evil serial killer, I was fine with that.

Joe’s mom was excellently done. She’s into memorizing the grocery store ads and puzzles and she’s not a very good cook but thinks she is. In some eerie ways, she reminded me of my own mom. Not that I’m going to turn into a serial killer because of it or anything.😉

Then there’s Sally, a maintenance worker at the police precinct. She had a brother who passed away and Sally becomes a bit fixated on Joe, wanting to help him. She plays a key role later on in the book that I won’t spoil, but her character went from being pretty mellow boring to rather interesting. She’s got her own hang ups and parental issues.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that I kept questioning whether or not Joe was mildly retarded (and he just didn’t accept that) or if he was really delusional about some things. He’s obviously a planner and can blend in when he decides to do so. I liked that I kept questioning his IQ throughout the book. Over all, it was pretty thrilling to watch a serial killer go on the hunt for another killer, working outside legal limits.

Narration: Paul Ansdell was, once again, a good fit for the main character. He had a variety of British accents, making it easy to keep the characters straight. His female voices were believable and I especially liked his eerie crazy voice for Melissa. He did a great job switching between regular Joe and retarded Joe. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Jun 28, 2016 |
compelling thriller...twisted...Christchurch, New Zealand..... serial killer.....Christchurch Noir Crime Series

Joe Middleton " is in control of everything in his simple life—both his day job as a janitor for the police department and his “night work.” " (from description) ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 11, 2016 |
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.
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
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.
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
ABR's original The Cleaner audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

After I recently read Paul Cleaves’ latest book Trust No One, which I really enjoyed, I jumped at the chance to go back and listen to his first book, The Cleaner, which was recently released on audio. I am so glad I did.

Joe is a cleaner working in the police station where he is known as Slow Joe. Joe is also an intelligent serial killer, the Christchurch Carver, whom the police are desperately trying to catch. While spying on the police investigation, Joe discovers that he is being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. So Joe starts investigating on his own.

The Cleaner is a dark and very twisted story told from the first person perspective of a serial killer and the third person perspective of Sally, one of his work colleagues, who is trying to befriend Slow Joe.

You would have never guessed that this was actually the author’s debut novel. I loved the writing. It was witty and compelling with lots of dark humor and some violence that made you gasp, but not in a bad way. You can’t help but like Joe despite his homicidal tendencies. Cleaves creates great characters, such as Joe’s slightly nutty mother, and the mix of grisly crime thriller and dark comedy was brilliant.

Paul Ansdell was a new narrator for me. He did an amazing job, and I would love to listen to more book he narrates. In fact, I saw he narrates another Paul Cleaves’ thriller, which I added to my wishlist straightaway. Ansdell really brought these characters to life. I was particularly impressed how he managed that with Joe’s batty mother. The setting of the book being in New Zealand, I was initially a little surprised by the English accent of the narrator. But I was glad he didn’t attempt to give the characters Christchurch accents that would have felt unnatural. Paul Ansdell has a very smooth, pleasant voice that was a pleasure to listen to. There were no issues with the production quality.

Highly recommended if you like sinister, twisted and a bit different from the normal thriller!

Audiobook provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Oct 30, 2015 |
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To Quinn We all still miss you, buddy.
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I pull the car into the driveway. Sit back. Try to relax.
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Mein Name ist Joe. Ich bin ein netter Kerl. Aber manchmal bringe ich Frauen um.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A police department janitor named Joe investigates what is thought to be the seventh Christchurch Carver murder, except that Joe knows for certain that the latest homicide is the work of a copycat killer.

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