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Five Minutes Alone

In the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder.

Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but—almost as deadly—it’s switched off his emotions.

When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, two more rapists go missing. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer.

There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected—each other.

“Ferocious storytelling that makes you think and feel. Smart, funny, and breathlessly suspenseful, Five Minutes Alone takes the definition of “crime thriller” to a whole new level.”
NZ Listener

“[A] powerhouse of a tale… A gripping thriller from beginning to end.”
(Booklist)

“[A] fiendishly twisted thriller.... Cleave’s masterful plotting skills are matched with superior pacing and characterization.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Joe Victim

Shortlisted for the Edgar Award, the Ngaio Marsh Award, and the Barry Award, Joe Victim brings back one of his most infamous characters, the dreaded Christchurch Carver - but in this darkly fascinating psycho-thrller… he’s the target.

Joe Middleton has a lot on his plate, to say the least. Arrested for a whole slew of murders he says he can’t remember, Joe—a.k.a. the Christchurch Carver—has been in jail for the last year awaiting trial, charged with the task of convincing the psychiatrists interviewing him that he wasn’t of sound mind and can’t be blamed for what he did. And, incredibly, that’s the least of his worries.

That’s because there’s no shortage of people who like the idea of seeing Joe dead, some of whom are on the inside with him. On the outside, there’s Melissa, Joe’s accomplice in one of the murders, who plans on shooting him on his way to the courthouse before he gets a chance to start talking. To get himself out of this epic mess, Joe has a desperate plan involving the disgraced ex-detective who put Joe away and a television psychic who’s looking to get rich. It’s a long shot, but it had better work—because the people of New Zealand are voting to bring back the death penalty, and the Christchurch Carver is just the poster boy to make it happen...

“Clever, compelling, and not for the faint hearted. Joe Middleton is the guiltiest 'innocent man' in crime fiction.”
Michael Robotham, internationally bestselling author of Watching You

“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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A little Hannibal Lector. A little Richard von Krafft-Ebing. A lot of gore”
Kirkus Reviews

“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.”
Suspense Magazine


The Laughterhouse
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. 

"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.”
Publishers Weekly 

"An intense adrenalin rush from start to finish, I read The Laughterhouse in one sitting. It'll have you up all night. Fantastic!"
S. J. Watson, author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

"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!"
Mark P. Sadler, author of BLOOD ON HIS HANDS, Suspense Magazine

"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.”
Booklist

"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."

"An intense and bloody noir thriller, one often descending into a violent abyss reminiscent of Thomas Harris, creator of Hannibal Lecter.”
Kirkus Reviews

To read the prologue of The Laughterhouse, click here

Collecting Cooper
People are disappearing in Christchurch. Cooper Riley, a psychology professor, doesn’t make it to work one day. Emma Green, one of his students, doesn’t make it home. When ex-cop Theodore Tate is released from a six-month prison stint, he’s asked by Green’s father to help find Emma. After all, Tate was in jail for nearly killing her in a DWI accident the year before, so he owes him. Big time. What neither of them know, however, is that a former mental patient is holding her captive as part of his growing collection of serial killer souvenirs. Now he has acquired the ultimate collector’s item—an actual killer.

Meanwhile, clues keep pulling Tate back to Grover Hills, the mental institution that closed down three years ago. Very bad things happened there over the years. Those who managed to survive would prefer keeping their memories buried. Tate has no choice but to unearth Grover Hills’ dark past if there is any chance of finding Emma Green and Cooper Riley alive.

"New Zealander Cleave marks the return of PI Theodore Tate, last seen in 2009's Cemetery Lake, in a pulse-pounding serial killer thriller. Soon after Tate is released after serving four months in the slammer for a drunk driving accident that seriously injured a 17-year-old girl, a former Christchurch police colleague asks him to help track a murderer known as Melissa X, who's been targeting men in uniform. Donovan Green, Tate's former lawyer, also approaches him. Donovan wants Tate to find his daughter, Emma, who happens to be the girl Tate nearly killed in the accident. Emma's disappearance is connected with the abduction of a college psychology professor of hers, Cooper Riley. The city of Christchurch becomes a modern equivalent of James Ellroy's Los Angeles of the 1950s, a discordant symphony of violence and human weakness. Cleave tosses in a number of twists that few readers will anticipate, but the book's real power lies in the complexity of its characters, particularly the emotionally tortured Tate." Publisher Weekly

To read the first chapter of Collecting Cooper, click here

Blood Men
Edward Hunter has it all—a beautiful wife and daughter, a great job, a bright future… and a very dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer was caught, convicted, and locked away in the country’s most hellish of penitentiaries. That man was Edward’s father. Edward has struggled his entire life to put the nightmares of his childhood behind him. But a week before Christmas, violence once again makes an unwelcome appearance into his world. Suddenly he’s going to need the help of his father, a man he hasn’t seen since he was a boy. Is Edward destined to be just like him, to become a man of blood?

"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." - Booklist.

"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." - Courier Mail Brisbane.

To read the first chapter of Blood Men, click here

Cemetery Lake
Cemetery Lake begins in a cold and rainy graveyard, where Private Detective Theodore Tate is overseeing an exhumation—a routine job for the weathered former cop. But when doubts are raised about the identity of the body found in the coffin, the case takes a sinister turn. Tate knows he should walk away and let his former colleagues on the police force deal with it, but his strong sense of justice intervenes.

Complicating matters are a few loose ends from Tate’s past. Even good guys have secrets, and Tate thought his were dead and buried for good. With time running out and a violent killer lurking, will he manage to stay one step ahead of the police, or will his truth be unearthed?

Originally published in Paul Cleave’s native New Zealand in 2008, Cemetery Lake is the first novel to feature Theodore Tate, the “quintessential flawed hero” (Kirkus Reviews) from Collecting Cooper and The Laughterhouse. Full of the clever plot twists and sardonic humor for which Cleave has become known, it is at once a totally entertaining crime novel and an unforgettable drama about the universal battle against the darkness within.

"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!" - Suspense Magazine

"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." - The Australian

"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." - Booklist

To read the first chapter of Cemetery Lake, click here


The Killing Hour

Imagine waking up covered in blood—but it’s not your blood. There’s a nasty bump on your head, and you can’t remember a thing about last night. The morning paper reports that two young women were brutally murdered. You recognize their names. Pieces of the night before come back to you through the haze. And now you’re the suspect in their grisly deaths. Welcome to Charlie’s world.

In this heart-pounding thriller, only the dead know what happened last night. On the run, Charlie suspects a man named Cyris, but no one believes that Cyris exists. Not the police and not Charlie’s ex-wife Jo, though she wants to trust that the man she once loved is innocent. Soon, Charlie has Jo bound and gagged in the trunk of his car, fleeing across the countryside while the killing hour approaches yet again.

Originally published in 2007 in Cleave’s native New Zealand, The Killing Hour represents the early, “pulse-pounding” (Publishers Weekly) work of a writer known the world over for a style that combines gruesome thrills with clever twists and a heavy dose of devilish humor. Cleave keeps us guessing until the last page of this fantastic psychological thriller.

"Whoever committed the murders isn’t done, and there are a number of twists to keep readers guessing. I won’t spoil the fun, but I will offer one bit of helpful advice: This evening, before you download this book and kick back in your comfortable chair for some escapist reading? Lock your doors and windows. Civilization and its citizens have a dark side. Mystery writers play on this contrast between law and disorder, and they remind us that the evil lurking in the hearts of men often comes out when the sun goes down. The Killing Hour has its share of blood, and some of the details can be rather grisly, but this is no mere splatterfest. Paul Cleave is interested in the psychological dimensions of his characters, and he explores their motives in ways that make everyone surprisingly sympathetic." - Everyday ebook

"Cleave’s fiction set in his native Christchurch, New Zealand, is typically dark and bloody, combining elements of the thriller and horror. The darkness and the blood are present this time, too, though the tone is more that of mainstream crime fiction. Here he dangles the question of truth or delusion until midbook and fashions multidimensional characters, even the worst of whom have- redeeming qualities. A roller-coaster ride of a thriller with an Everyman threatened on all sides." - Booklist
To read the first chapter of The Killing Hour, click here


The Cleaner

Joe is in control of everything in his simple life—both his day job as a janitor for the police department and his “night work.” He isn’t bothered by the daily news reports of the Christchurch Carver, who, they say, has murdered seven women. Joe knows, though, that the Carver killed only six. He knows that for a fact, and he’s determined to find the copycat. He’ll punish him for the one, then frame him for the other six. It’s the perfect plan because he already knows he can outwit the police.

All he needs now is to take care of all the women who keep getting in his way, including his odd, overprotective mother and Sally, the maintenance worker who sees him as a replacement for her dead brother. Then there’s the mysterious Melissa, the only woman to have ever understood him, but whose fantasies of blackmail and torture don't have a place in Joe’s investigation.

Originally published in 2006 in Cleave’s native New Zealand, where it was a finalist for the prestigious Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction, The Cleaner is a chilling and darkly funny thriller that will leave you clamoring for his next.

"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." - Mark Billingham

"Paul Cleave writes the kind of dark, intense thrillers that I never want to end. Do yourself a favour and check him out." - Simon Kernick

"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." - Manly Daly

"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" - Christchurch Press 

To reading the first chapter of The Cleaner, click here