Blood Men: A Thriller

Blood Men: A Thriller

4.5 7
by Paul Cleave

View All Available Formats & Editions


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 New Zealand’s most hellish penitentiary. That man was Edward’s

See more details below



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 New Zealand’s most hellish penitentiary. 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 in his world. Is Edward destined to be just like his father, to become a man of blood? A true master of the genre, Paul Cleave unveils a brutally vivid picture of a killer’s mind and a city of fallen angels captured at the ends of the earth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
New Zealander Cleave's disappointing U.S. debut focuses on the son of a notorious serial killer. When Edward Hunter was nine, his father, Jack (aka "Jack the Hunter"), was convicted of murdering 11 prostitutes in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the 20 years of Jack's incarceration, Edward hasn't spoken to or visited him once. Edward is doing okay in his struggle to get over his past until the day shortly before Christmas he and his wife, Jodie, get caught in the middle of a violent bank heist that leaves Jodie dead. Edward, who has always feared that he'll turn out like his father, is shocked when Jack contacts him from prison and encourages him to seek revenge on the robbers. He's even more shocked when he takes Jack's advice. While Cleave (The Cleaner) explores intriguing concepts-- particularly the gray area between guilt and innocence--and the steady stream of blood never feels gratuitous, too many subplots and character motivations compete for anything to truly resonate. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Dad is a serial killer. Can his son avoid the same fate? That's the question posed by New Zealander Cleave in his exceptionally gory fourth novel (Cemetery Lake, 2009, etc.). When Edward Hunter was nine, he killed a neighbor's dog, feeding it a steak embedded with nails. One thing led to another, and in short order his father Jack was charged with the murders of 11 prostitutes. After his life sentence, Edward's mother committed suicide and his big sister overdosed on heroin. That was 20 years ago. Now Edward is an accountant, a model citizen devoted to wife Jodie and six-year-old daughter Sam. He and Jodie are at the bank when it's held up by six armed robbers. This happens in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Christmas Week, the season of goodwill; if you missed the irony, don't worry, you'll get constant reminders. Edward confronts the robbers, verbally, and Jodie is shot dead. Edward emotes too much for the protagonist of an action story, but then an inner voice kicks in, the same voice he heard as a child dog-killer. He visits Jack in prison; father tells son that he heard the same voice each time he killed, that it wants blood, that they're both "blood men." Go ahead, says Jack; listen to the voice; avenge Jodie. To get him started, he gives his boy one of the robbers' names. Edward goes to work, the cops always one step behind. He'll cause several gruesome deaths, some in self-defense; his daughter Sam will be kidnapped; he'll spring his old man, who'll make up for lost time by resuming his own killing spree. Cleave's assembly-line prose, with its American veneer, becomes numbing; characterization is minimal; there's blood everywhere. The author has some tricks up his sleeve at the end, but they will antagonize the few readers left in his corner. Neither Edward's existential struggle nor the tracking of the robbers are suspenseful enough to keep our interest.
“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 [has an] impressive talent for character traits, building tension, and his edgy presentation of Christchurch — a town which, thanks to his previous novels, is now a solid addition to the geography of noir cities."
Christchurch Press (New Zealand)
“Cleave displays a certain adroitness in insistently plucking the imagination with icy fingers of fear.”
Courier-Mail (Brisbane Australia)
“Paul Cleave writes like the fine-tuned punches of a middleweight boxer—with short sharp jabs to the solar plexus that make you gasp.”
Australia) Courier-Mail (Brisbane

“Paul Cleave writes like the fine-tuned punches of a middleweight boxer—with short sharp jabs to the solar plexus that make you gasp.”
Tess Gerritsen
“Riveting and all too realistic."
Mark Billingham
“Relentlessly gripping, deliciously twisted and shot through with a vein of humor 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.”
John Connolly
“Dark, bloody, and gripping, Blood Men is classic noir fiction. In Paul Cleave, Jim Thompson has another worthy heir to his throne.”
Courier-Mail (Brisbane

“Paul Cleave writes like the fine-tuned punches of a middleweight boxer—with short sharp jabs to the solar plexus that make you gasp.”

Read More

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Cleave is the author of eight award-winning, internationally bestselling crime thrillers, including Joe Victim, finalist for the Edgar, Barry, and Ngaio Marsh awards, and, most recently, Five Minutes Alone. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Visit his website at

Read an Excerpt

Blood Men

A Thriller
By Paul Cleave


Copyright © 2010 Paul Cleave
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781439189610


“I first made the newspapers when I was nine years old. I made them in every city across the country, most of them on the first page. I even made them internationally. In them I was black and white, blurred a little, my face turned into my father’s chest, people surrounding us. From then on I was shown on TV, in magazines, in more and more papers, always the same photo. I never wanted any of it, I tried to avoid it, but the option wasn’t mine.

“My dad, well, he made the papers too. He was also on the front pages. There were more photos of him than of me, because he was the one being arrested. I was just along for the ride, trying to fight off the police as they came to take him away. I didn’t know any better. Mum peeled me away from his side as I cried. The police handcuffed him, and I never saw him again until this week. He was my dad, sure, but it was pretty easy to stop loving the guy when it turned out he was never really the man we thought he was. Dad got himself arrested because he had tastes other people didn’t look too kindly on—not even the people of Christchurch.

“Mum was dead a year later. She took cocktails of poisons and pills to escape the hate and the accusations from the public. That left me with the doctors and psychiatrists to study me. They were curious about me. Everybody was. My dad was a man of blood. He had murdered eleven prostitutes over a period of twenty-five years, and that got some of the good people of Christchurch wondering whether I’d turn out the same way. Dad was so subtle nobody even realized Christchurch had a serial killer. He didn’t advertise the fact, he just did his thing, no fuss, no real mess, sometimes they were found and sometimes they weren’t, and those that weren’t were never reported missing. He was a family man who loved us, who would do everything for us. He never laid a finger on my mother or my sister or me, he worked hard to put food on our table, to provide what he could to make our lives better than his was growing up. The monster inside him never came home, it was left hidden in the darkness with the blood and the flesh of those it killed, but sometimes—at least eleven times that he admitted to—Dad’d go out at night and meet up with that monster. He wasn’t my dad in those moments, he was something else. I never asked what, exactly. In the beginning I couldn’t. In the beginning I wasn’t allowed to see him, then, when I was old enough to make my own decisions, I didn’t want to.

“I was ten years old when the trial began. It was a circus. My mum was still alive, but my sister and I were struggling. Mum was always yelling at us when she was sober, and crying when she was drunk, and whatever of those two states she was in, you always wished it was the other. Soon the pills and the booze took their toll, but not as quick as she wanted, and when they couldn’t finish the job she used a razor blade. I don’t know how long it took for her to bleed out. She might still have been alive when we found her. I held my sister’s hand and we watched her pale body, the yelling and the crying gone now.

“My mum’s family wanted nothing to do with us, but my dad’s parents took us in. The kids at school would tease me, they’d beat me up, they’d steal my bag at least once a week and jam it down a toilet somewhere. The psychiatrist came around every few months with his tests and questions. My photo came up in the papers every now and then, always the same one, though the distance between those occurrences started to stretch. I was almost a celebrity. I was also the son of a serial killer—and some of those good Christchurch people thought I would follow in his footsteps.

“My sister, Belinda, she took the direction of Dad’s victims. She was out fucking for money when she was fourteen. By sixteen she was an addict; her tastes ran to the liquids that could be scored cheap and injected into her veins. By nineteen she was dead. I was the last of my family—Dad’s monster took them all away.

“Of course little Eddie grew up, I have my own family now. A wife. A child. I told my wife who I was not long after we met. It frightened her in the beginning. Thankfully she got to know me. She saw I had no monsters.

“There are those who think what my dad had was a gene, that he’s passed it on to me. There are people who think that I’m destined to be a man of blood too,” I say, and I look at the blood soaking into the upholstery from the woman slumped in the passenger seat, “that the same blood runs through both of us. They’re wrong,” I say, and I take the car up to sixty kilometers an hour and drive straight into the wall.

© 2010 Paul Cleave


Excerpted from Blood Men by Paul Cleave Copyright © 2010 by Paul Cleave. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >