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The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
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2011258,418 (3.78)21
Title:The Cleaner
Authors:Paul Cleave
Info:Atria Books (2012), Edition: Original, Kindle Edition, 400 pages
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The Cleaner by Paul Cleave



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Originally published in New Zealand in 2006, Paul Cleave’s books are being published in the U.S. for the first time, and publisher Simon & Schuster has a sure bet on their hands with The Cleaner. “Slow Joe” is working as a janitor in the police department of Christchurch, New Zealand. The thing is … Joe isn’t really slow at all. He is a serial killer. Working with the police allows him to keep tabs on the investigation into the gruesome deaths of seven women. The problem is, one of those murders was committed by someone else, and Joe is not happy to see it included among his own work. His plan is to find that killer and frame him for the whole shebang. This book is dark, violent, visually disturbing and funny!
And then, just when you think you’ve taken all the ugly you can handle… there’s his latest date…

This review was originally written for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. ( )
  retropelocin | Dec 19, 2013 |
This is Paul Cleave's first book; it is also the direct prequel to Joe Victim, his latest book which I read recently. Since I read the books the wrong way round I knew all the who-dunnits in this book but did not know the whys or hows. This did affect my enjoyment of the book and I do highly recommend you read the two books in the proper order! However, I enjoyed Joe Victim so much I just had to read the beginnings of his story. This (well both books) is a very unique take on the serial killer book as it is almost entirely told from the killer's point of view and we hardly even get to know the police investigators in this first beginning book. They have developed into characters by the time we get to the latest book, Joe Victim, the 7th in the series, though. But here, they show up occasionally and mostly through Joe, the cleaner's, point of view. The scary thing about this story is that even with the entire violent, ruthless murders we are somehow drawn to Joe and he does become an unwillingly sympathetic character to the reader in an unsettling way to my dismay, even though he is completely unlikable as a person and unreliable as a narrator. Occasionally another narrator will take over and we get an outsider's take on the case, but as I said this is not from the police themselves; they are kept as background characters making this a very unique style of thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed. I just didn't get the full impact since I had already read the sequel which keeps no secrets of the events that happen here. I'm impressed with this author and will move on to his next book which revolves around the same police department in Christchurch, NZ. ( )
  ElizaJane | Nov 30, 2013 |
Set in Christchurch, New Zealand, The Cleaner by Paul Cleave was a great blend of action, humor and psychological thrills that was definitely dark and intense but was also a book that I did not want to see end. Telling the story of Joe, a devious, intelligent man who lives a complex life of lies to enable him to conduct his chosen avocation of rapist and killer. By day he works in a menial job as a janitor in the police station, passing himself off as a slightly retarded, perfect cover for keeping an eye on the investigation into the Christchurch Carver which, of course is him.

Joe enjoys the notoriety of being the killer of seven women, but he is bothered by the fact that he has only killed six. Someone has used him to cover up their own murder and Joe decides to find out who the copycat killer is. His investigation is hampered by the women in his life. Both his mother who demands attention, and who he often tried to do away with, and fellow co-worker, Sally, who seems to see Joe as a replacement for her deceased special needs brother and wants to help him. But it is when the mysterious Melissa enters his life that things start on a definite downhill slide.

Learning what makes Joe tick was fascinating and terrifying and along the way the author throws in delicious details that are both amusing and revealing. The plot has many a twist and although the subject matter is very dark and intense, I found The Cleaner to be that rare read that supplies lots of creepy chills along with a very good story. Highly recommended. ( )
4 vote DeltaQueen50 | Oct 16, 2013 |
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 what he does. For example, he puts rat poison into his mother's coffee and then spends the whole night worried that something bad will happen to her. This was really fun to read. ( )
  Rena613 | Jul 2, 2013 |
Joe Middleton works as a janitor at the Christchurch police station. Everyone believes his "Slow Joe" act and think he is mentally retarded; but he is far from that. He is actually one clever, sick and twisted serial killer known as the Christchurch Carver. He has 6 women under his record and a seventh is chalked up to him, but he knows it isn't so. And so it begins: Joe's personal investigation to find that copycat. During his investigation he has to deal with his mother, a co-worker and a very special lady called Melissa. This book is phenomenal! Paul Cleave is one damn good writer and I have already read 3 of his books. Plan on reading them all. Twisted, scary, dark fun this is. ( )
1 vote AleAleta | Feb 22, 2013 |
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I pull the car into the driveway. Sit back. Try to relax.
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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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