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review 2016-12-21 19:51
Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave
Five Minutes Alone: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series) - Paul Cleave

Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works pretty well as a stand alone. There are some reveals about what happened to certain characters in previous books. Also, this series is part of the bigger overall Christchurch murder mysteries, which has intersecting timelines. Have you ever read a headline about some horrible crime and thought, ‘Well, the victim or their loved ones should get five minutes alone with the culprit!’. That’s the central plot to this book. A convicted rapist turns up dead and the Christchurch (New Zealand) cops aren’t too enthusiastic in investigating who might be responsible. Still, they have a job to do. Get ready for an intense cat and mouse game between avenging killer and reluctant yet dedicated detectives. Wow! This book was super intense! I really enjoyed it and it was difficult to put down in order to sleep for a few hours before picking it up again. Theo Tate is back on the force, having been sober for a year. He’s the king of second chances, as some call him. He’s messed up plenty of times and yet he always means well. His new partner is Rebecca Kent, who recently recovered from her own injuries which she received while on duty. They catch the the case involving the recently released convicted rapist and aren’t too excited about it. Meanwhile, Carl Schroeder, who also recently recovered from a serious injury, just isn’t the same. He’s no longer on the force but he’s got his own work keeping him busy. His story arc for this series is the most interesting so far! I’m really impressed with Cleave’s writing on this one! Schroeder was the guy that helped keep Tate on the side of good (most of the time). Now, Schroeder may be the one needing Tate to act the conscience for him. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tate’s wife had a significant role in this book. If you’ve read the earlier books, then you know she has been mostly out of the picture. Now her presence brings Tate both joy and anxiety. I don’t want to say too much because I do my best to avoid spoilers. Just know that Cleave is upping his game by bringing Bridget into the mix. There’s also Warren the spider, a kind of pet to one of the characters. His cheeky remarks provided some humor to this dark and gritty tale. I was a little sad to see that Warren will probably not be in further novels. The plot was intense! I now, I already mentioned that, but I really mean it! There was never a dull moment. As the reader, we know right away who this mysterious avenging killer is. At first, I was rooting for this person, but as the story unfolds, this vigilante makes mistakes and good people start dying. With the first accidental death, I was ready to forgive the vigilante, because, hey, we all make mistakes. But the bodies kept piling up and it became obvious that this type of justice has a cost. Cleave is clever in that he doesn’t stop there. Instead, through these gripping characters, he asks the question of whether this cost is less or more than the cost society and victims pay under the current justice system. The cat and mouse game continues as each of our main detectives have to weigh the answer for themselves. This was an excellent murder mystery turned thriller. I really wasn’t sure where Cleave would take the story on the final stretch. In the end, I was very satisfied, feeling that a kind of justice was meted out while staying true to overall feel of the book. I look forward to seeing what he does next. Theo Tate already needs plenty of therapy. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox. Narration: Paul Ansdell did a pretty good job. His individual voices started off crisp and distinct, though well into the book Tate and Schroeder started to sound the same. From there forward, it was off and on with the clear distinction between these two. However, the text is often very clear about who is talking, so that made it easy for most of the book to keep things straight. Ansdell has believable female voices unless they are sad and anguished. His voice tends to drop several notes when he mimics a woman in deep sorrow or distress. For the purposes of the story, that doesn’t really matter. Ansdell does a great job imbuing the characters with emotion.

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review 2016-06-28 18:40
The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
The Cleaner - Paul Ansdell,Paul Cleave

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.

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review 2016-04-24 20:20
Blood Men by Paul Cleave
Blood Men: A Thriller - Paul Cleave

Note: This book is part of the Christchurch Mysteries series but it works just fine as a stand alone. It does reference the main character in the Theodore Tate mysteries in a few small ways and chronologically, happens after Book 1 (Cemetery Lake).

Edward Hunter lost his father when he was 9 years old. The man was a serial killer and he was finally caught and imprisoned. Edward has tried very hard to forget him ever since and be his own person. Now, decades later he has a wife (Jody) and a young daughter (Sam) and a successful job (as an accountant). But a bank robbery turned bloody will bring cruel violence back into Edward’s life, affecting those he loves the most. Once again, the ugly question of whether or not Edward is like his father will be raised.

I’m totally going to love on this book. I really enjoyed it, even more so than Cemetery Lake. Set in modern day Christchurch, New Zealand, Edward is a very interesting character and we get to see him during his worst hours. I really felt for the guy. First he has this horrible family history that’s full of tragedy. Then he has is own little demon to contend with, one he thought he had beaten down many years ago. Finally, he has the worst week of his life during the length of this book. He goes through quite the range of emotions.

The author pulls in characters from the Theodore Tate novels, specifically Detective Schroeder. He’s cynical and sharp and married to doing the right thing (and doing it by the books as much as possible). In fact, the book opens with him and his guys looking into the death of a man in a trench coat and large suction cups. Yeah, I giggled too. Schroeder is quickly pulled off this case to attend to a bank robbery, the same one that Edward is caught in the middle of.

After the robbery is all said and done, Edward feels he must find the bandits. His father, who is still in prison, gives him a call and asks him to visit. That really starts the slippery slope for Edward. What follows is a mix of righteous payback, a struggle against Edward’s baser desires, and Edward coming to terms with who he is (including his relationship with his father). Be prepared for a respectable body count on this one.

Some animals suffer in this book. The author provides one clear, detailed example and then alludes to the others without giving specifics. These episodes are used sparingly and definitely add to the character’s dimension; these scenes aren’t here merely to up the horror level of the book.

The story held my attention all the way through and I finished it in three days. The novel brings up questions of inner evil and what constitutes free will versus a mental illness. The main characters are well done. There’s some interesting twists that kept me guessing as to where the author would take the story.

I won a copy of this book from The Audio Book Reviewer) with no strings attached.

Narration: Paul Ansdell was a great voice for both Detective Schroeder and Edward Hunter. I liked his slightly gravelly voice for the older, jaded Schroeder. He did a great job of portraying Edward’s many emotions throughout the novel. His female voices were believable. I wonder, as I did with Cemetery Lake, why no New Zealand accents? Perhaps this was the publisher’s direction, but I don’t really know.

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text 2016-04-02 22:22
April 2016 Reading
Sin No More - Kimberla Lawson Roby
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Copper Sun - Sharon M. Draper
Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
Trust No One: A Thriller - Paul Cleave

Thanks to audiobooks, I am able to increase my reading challenge to 50 books this year.  Most of my reading has to take place during the spring and summer because fall television and football usually consumes most of my time.

 

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text 2015-12-27 07:52
Top 10 Best Books of 2015

 

Water from My Heart 
  Charles Martin
Favorite #1  Best Overall Fiction Book of 2015
Movie Worthy 10 stars (Love, Redemption) 

Concussion 
Jeanne Marie Laskas
#1 Best Non-Fiction of 2015, Sports Medicine/Football
Memoir & Biography, Book- Movie Adaptation

 

Pretty Girls
 Karin Slaughter
Best Crime Thriller of 2015
 "Slaughter at her Finest"

 

Pretty Baby
 Mary Kubica 
Best Hypnotic Psychological  Suspense Thriller

 

Wherever There Is Light  
Peter Golden
Best Historical Fiction
Book -to -Big Screen Adaptation

 

The Guilty  
David Baldacci
Best Audiobook (tie), Best of the Will Robie Series,
Best Double-Twist Climax

Memory Man
 David Baldacci
Best Audiobook (tie), Best Baldacci Novel to date,
Best new series (Amos Decker)

The Crossing
 Michael Connelly
Best Audiobook (tie), Best Collaboration:
Haller/ Bosch, Welliver /Connelly

Trust No One  
Paul Cleave
Best Clever Character Development, Best Twisted
Dark Humor, Best Male Protagonist (Alzheimer’s)

 

Life or Death
Michael Robotham
Best Tour de Force of Crime Writing 
Best Get of Jail Story 

 

"The Talent" Behind the "Best of the Best "

 

* Author featured on 2015
and Top 2014 BookList

 

 

Charles Martin  

Mary Kubica

  

David Baldacci

 

Karin Slaughter  

 

 

 

Paul Cleave 

  

Michael Connelly
 

Michael Robotham

 

Jeanne Marie Laskas 

  

Peter Golden 

 

 

 

Top 50 Books of 2015  

 

All 5 Starred Reviews of 2015

 

My Year in Books Goodreads
2015 List 

 

Printable PDF List  

 

Top 30 Books of 2014

 

JDC Must Read Books Blog  

 

 

 

 

Source: bit.ly/JDCBestBooksof2015
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