NOMINATED FOR THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Sometimes reality can really get in the way of a good story.
Joe Middleton’s story is this: He doesn’t remember killing anyone, so there’ s no way a jury can convict him of serial murder. He calls himself Joe Victim, trying, as he awaits trial, to convince the psychiatrists that he wasn’t in control of his actions, trusting that the system will save him in the end.
But others know Joe as the infamous Christchurch Carver and they want to see him dead. 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. Then there’s Raphael, whose daughter was one of the Carver’s victims. Though he’s tried to move on with life as the leader of a counseling group for grieving family members, he’d like nothing more than to watch Joe pay. Finally there’s Carl Schroder, the ex-detective who locked Joe up and is determined to put things right for the case of his career.
To extract himself from this epic mess, Joe has come up with a desperate plan involving a television psychic who’s looking to get rich by making people believe just about anything. It’s a long shot, but it had better work before he becomes the poster boy for a death penalty that may be reinstated in New Zealand, which isn’t quite the dramatic ending he is hoping for…
New Zealand author Cleave pulls out all the stops in his seventh Christchurch noir, a sequel to The Cleaner, which revealed that the Christchurch Carver was Joe Middleton, a police department janitor. A year after his arrest, Middleton s incarceration and impending trial have put the issue of capital punishment back on New Zealand s agenda, just in time for a national election. His female partner-in-crime, Melissa X, whose relationship with him is ambivalent at best, is looking for a gunman to take Middleton out before his day in court. The killer, in turn, is banking on the insanity defense to get him off the hook. And an ex-cop who was responsible for finally catching the Carver is hoping to use his inside knowledge to boost a bogus psychic s TV show. Cleave juggles all the elements with impressive ease. Darkly humorous references to horrific violence will resonate with Dexter fans.