An international bestseller and one of the top-selling novels in New Zealand’s history, Paul Cleave’s dark thriller is a brilliant, bloody masterpiece.
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.
About the Author
Paul Cleave is the internationally bestselling author of ten award-winning crime thrillers, including Joe Victim, which was a finalist for the 2014 Edgar and Barry Awards, Trust No One and Five Minutes Alone, which won consecutive Ngaio Marsh Awards in 2015 and 2016. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Visit his website at PaulCleave.com.
Read an Excerpt
I pull the car into the driveway. Sit back. Try to relax. The day, I swear to God, has to be at least ninety-five degrees. Christchurch heat. Schizophrenic weather. Sweat is dripping from my body. My fingers are wet-rubber damp. I lean forward and twist the keys in the ignition, grab my briefcase, and climb out of the car. Out here, the air-conditioning actually works. I reach the front door and fumble with the lock. I breathe a sigh of relief when I step inside.
I stroll through to the kitchen. Angela, I can hear, is in the shower upstairs. I’ll disturb her later. For now, I need a drink. I walk to the fridge. It has a stainless-steel door in which my reflection looks like a ghost. I open the door and squat down in front of it for close to a minute, making friends with the cool air. The fridge offers me both beer and Coke. I take a beer, twist off the cap, and sit down at the table. I’m no heavy drinker, but I knock this bottle back in maybe twenty seconds. The fridge offers up another bottle. Who am I to say no? I lean back in the chair. Put my feet up on the table. Consider taking off my shoes. You know that feeling? A hot day at work. Stress for eight hours. Then sitting down, feet in the air, beer in hand, and you take your shoes off.
Listening to the shower upstairs, I casually sip at my second beer of the year. Takes me five minutes to finish this one, and now I’m hungry. Back at the fridge and to the slice of cold pizza I spied on my first trip. I shrug. Why not? It isn’t as though I need to watch my weight.
I sit back at the table. Feet in the air. The same thing works for pizza as it does for beer once you get those shoes off. Right now, though, I don’t have the time. I wolf down the pizza, pick up my briefcase, and make my way upstairs. The stereo in the bedroom is pumping out a song I recognize, but can’t name. Same goes for the artist. Nevertheless, I find myself humming along as I lay my briefcase on the bed, knowing the tune will be stuck in my mind for hours. I sit down next to the briefcase. Open it. Take the newspaper out. The first page offers up the sort of news that makes newspapers sell. Often I wonder if the media makes half this stuff up, just to inflate sales. There’s definitely a market for it.
I hear the shower turn off but ignore it, preferring to read the paper. It’s an article about some guy who’s been terrorizing the city. Killing women. Torture. Rape. Homicide. The stuff movies are made of. A couple of minutes go by and I’m still sitting here reading when Angela, wiping her hair with a towel, steps out of the bathroom surrounded by white steam and the smell of skin lotion.
I lower the newspaper and smile.
She looks over at me.
“Who the fuck are you?” she asks.
What People are Saying About This
“An intense adrenalin rush from start to finish, I read The Laughterhouse in one sitting. It’ll have you up all night. Fantastic!”
“Paul Cleave writes the kind of dark, intense thrillers that I never want to end. Do yourself a favor and check him out.
“Relentlessly gripping, deliciously twisted and shot through with a vein of humor that’s as dark as hell.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very, very good story. Had me reading deep into the night. Scary and creepy. I was on the edge of my seat.
So the basic premise of this book is quite interesting. There's this serial killer, Joe, posing as a simple minded janitor who works at the Christchurch PD's office. His ruse and job keep him abreast of the PD investigation into his killings. It offends him, however, when someone gives him credit for a murder he did not commit. He realizes that it has to be someone from the inside and sets about to find this murderer in order to frame him for all the murders he did as retaliation for trying to pin this extra murder on him. Add into the mix a female love interest, who also happens to be a serial killer, and you have yourself a wild ride. The Cleaner can be uncomfortable at times, particularly when the Cleaner meets his female counterpart, because the author engenders sympathy for the devil. The reader will, unwillingly, find him or herself rooting for the bad guy to catch the bad guy or the bad gal. I'm not talking Dexter stuff here, either. I'm not talking about someone who murders for the greater good. Joe has no wish to help the world - only to have some sort of justice against the man who would try to hide his crime in with Joe's own. The Cleaner was so interesting and different that it made that discomfort well worth it. Can't wait to read more from Paul Cleave.
Okay, so Joe is a office cleaner per-say, he cleans the offices and the bathrooms at the police dept. He has a low IQ. Joe has some issues, he and this female that works there as well (Sally) has gotten into some deep do-do. The only thing that I did not like about this book is the way that they had to go back and forth in the bathroom with the police to see if Melissa or Joe was going to kill the police officer. That part drug out a tad bit too much for me. This book will make you buy the sequel, because you would like to know whats going on with Sally,Joe and Melissa....
Although the characters are well developed as well the story is none are likeable. No one to root for.
Amazing! Just amazing.