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The inner musings of the characters have a poetic power, even a quirky humor. The final effect is that tingling in the neck hairs that tells us an artist is at work.
A pulse-pounding serial killer thriller . . . The city of Christchurch becomes a modern equivalent of James Ellroy’s Los Angeles of the 1950s.
Compelling, dark, and perfectly paced, New Zealand writer Cleave’s psychological thriller explores the evil lurking in us all, working relentless magic until the very last page
Most people come back from New Zealand talking about the the breathtaking scenery and the amazing experiences. I came back raving about Paul Cleave. These are stories that you won’t forget in a while: relentlessly gripping, deliciously twisted and shot through with a vein of humour that’s as dark as hell. Cleave creates fictional monsters as chilling and as charming as any I’ve ever come across. Anyone who likes their crime fiction on the black and bloody side should move Paul Cleave straight to the top of their must-read list.
Uses words as lethal weapons
An intense adrenalin rush from start to finish, I read The Laughterhouse in one sitting. It’ll have you up all night. Fantastic!
Dark, bloody, and gripping, Blood Men is classic noir fiction. In Paul Cleave, Jim Thompson has another worthy heir to his throne
[an] outstanding psychological thriller
Blood Men may very well be Cleave’s best book yet; filled with his recognizable mix of dark crime peppered with sly humour, compelling characters, and exciting storylines with enough tension and interesting twists and turns to keep the pages whirring.
Cleave... should not be read without another human being in breathing distance, and not at night. This is the most accomplished of Cleave’s works, not for the writing or the story, which is always strong and original, but because Blood Men has a new edge of complexity. Blood Men is not for the faint-hearted. Cleave does brutality well, full-frontal, and it keeps coming, in Christchurch
Cleave writes like the fine-tuned punches of a middleweight boxer - with short sharp jabs to the solar plexus that make you gasp. The Kiwi crime writer scores another knock-out punch with his latest novel... The pace and the carnage accelerate toward a climax lasting for several pages and leaving you breathless
Cleave’s real genius is in the way he plays with the dark and light in his characters. He shows us Edward’s twisted side and yet still convinces us to like him; we see why his wife fell for him; we want him to hurt those bad guys; we sympathise even when we’re repulsed by what he does. Cleave knows exactly how to manipulate, how to hook in readers and keep them turning the pages.The plot of Blood Men is unpredictable, shockingly so at times, and the writing fresh, fast and creepy. If what turns you off some New Zealand fiction is the sacrifice of story to wordplay then here’s the good news – Cleave manages both brilliantly. And Christchurch with its famously evil underbelly provides him with a ideal setting for a story about the darkness that lies just beneath the surface of our lives.This is a beautifully rounded story and a real triumph of disturbing, bleak, bloody, compelling crime writing
The book is a real page turner and the week that the story covers, from the back robbery to the surprising finale, with all the suspense, brutality, murder and mayhem is suddenly over and one is left stunned and speechless ... if he can crack the US market ... and keep producing books of this calibre then his future is assured.
Cleave has the rare ability to craft a story of such technical expertise his quality of suspense overturns psychology: what we learn of his characters is superseded by the reader’s assumption that the next set piece has the power to reverse our expectations. Cleave knows how to keep scenes moving. He defines action without giving anything away and deletes that which doesn’t advance his plot. The strongest images are those of a doom-laden harsh-shadowed world, the atmosphere always chilly, grey and cellar-like damp.
If you are after a relaxing weekend read, this is not the one to pick. It is a tense and intriguing novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The pace of this novel is impressive, enhancing the gruesome content as the reader is taken from one dark act to another through numerous plot turns. A tense, intriguing read with a skillfully twisted ending.
Cleave’s thriller has a roaring pace.
A deft thriller from a rising star of the genre.
A riveting and all too realistic thriller. Cleave is a writer to watch.
It might be proper to issue a warning here: this isn’t a gentle, nice, fairies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden novel. People die. Cleave is a talent to watch.
Cleave has an excellent ability to keep the surprises coming, and at the same time has carefully and cleverly mapped out the journey of a criminally insane mind unravelling . . . there’s something disquietingly addictive about Cleave’s murderer’s narrative.
427 pages of prose as neat, precise and enjoyably Grand Guignol – Cleave displays a certain adroitness in insistently plucking the imagination with icy fingers of fear.
Drags you in – your eyes keep moving over the page, and you mind draws appalling pictures. This is not what I expected from a New Zealand crime novel. I must banish those stereotypes. After reading The Cleaner I doubt I’ll think of New Zealand and Christchurch specifically in the same way again. The Cleaner is strangely compelling and definitely not for the squeamish
Cleave ... has an energy that conventional crime novels lack.
A vivid, jangled exploration of mental illness, dark imagination, and the nowhere territory in between…. Cleave spins one nightmare scenario after another out of Jerry’s homely malady, leaping with such fiendish élan between past and present tense and first-person, second-person, and third-person narration that you may wonder if you’ve killed someone yourself.
A gripping thriller. TRUST NO ONE draws us into a world where truth blends with delusion. This story of a writer losing his memory and bearings pulls us into a maze where fiction blurs into murder. I couldn’t put it down.
A crime writer with dementia, who can’t tell the facts from his fiction – this very clever novel did my head in time and again. Don’t skip any pages.
Compelling, dark, and perfectly paced, New Zealand writer Cleave’s psychological thriller explores the evil lurking in us all, working relentless magic until the very last page. There’s nary a misstep in this riveting thriller about the bad deeds even good men sometimes do
Cleave’s whirligig plot mesmerises
In the hands of a lesser writer, a novel dealing with dementia wouldn’t be gripping and thought-provoking and funny in equal measure, but TRUST NO ONE is all of those things, a modern masterpiece from an author who’s at the top of his game.
This powerhouse novel plays with the subtexts at the core of the mystery genre.
With an unexpected ending, this thriller is one to remember.
Edgar-finalist Cleave makes an implausible, but very creepy, premise work in this powerful, thought-provoking novel…impressive crime thriller
Cleave, a master of dark and compelling thrillers, puts a moral spin on this twisting, chilling tale with its disturbing finale.
Cleave does his usual great job of threading two ongoing stories from two different serials into a single, closely knit unit and as usual, keeps the reader eager for more. It’s hard not to empathize with Joe, even cheering for the bad guy is allowed, if for no other reason, we need to know what he will do next.
Readers following him through this season of Breaking Bad reworked by the Coen Brothers will feel the whole gamut right along with him.
On almost every page, this outstanding psychological thriller forces the reader to reconsider what is real.
The quintessential flawed hero.
“[Five Minutes Alone is a] fiendishly twisted thriller.... Cleave’s masterful plotting skills are matched with superior pacing and characterization.
[A] powerhouse of a tale... A gripping thriller from beginning to end
Cleave pulls out all the stops in his seventh Christchurch noir.... [He] juggles all the elements with impressive ease. Darkly humorous references to horrific violence will resonate with Dexter fans.
A rollercoaster ride of a thriller
Clever, compelling, and not for the faint hearted. Joe Middleton is the guiltiest ‘innocent man’ in crime fiction.
Cleave writes the kind of dark, intense thrillers that I never want to end. Do yourself a favour and check him out.
A pulse-pounding serial killer thriller
Horrormeister Cleave…will scare you to death, or at least to the point of keeping a night light on.
Cleave leads us on a tantalizing, mouth-watering spectre of horror, never knowing what will be revealed around the next corner, or turning of a page.
Sensitive and astute ... while being gripping and darkly funny.
The violence is hard and frequent . . . Fortunately the bleakness is undercut by Cleave’s dry sense of humour . . . Blood Men is likely to stay in the mind long after it is finished.
Cleave’s horrific narrative takes no prisoners, with the bloody action relentlessly ricocheting around Christchurch at a pace that leaves the detectives near collapse and readers sometimes overwhelmed.
Piano wire–taut plotting, Tate’s heart-wrenching losses and forlorn hopes, and Cleave’s unusually perceptive gaze into the maw of a killer’s madness make this a standout chapter in his detective’s rocky road to redemption.
Contemporary crime noir at its best, mined from the dark pit of the human psyche.
The myriad of characters presented in this novel is amazing, and each and every one has their own little creepy side that’s perfectly written by an author who truly wants readers to be able to feel the chill in that cemetery. Theodore Tate is a great lead; he has more problems than solutions, and the reader will root for his emotional need to serve and protect.
Tate is hardly the first dark, brooding detective with a tragic past in crime fiction, but he brings a fresh twist to the familiar type, as does the setting of Christchurch, New Zealand, which Cleave evokes with masterful precision. Cleave fans will enjoy the backstory this tale provides, and newcomers will be happy for the chance to start at the beginning.