The Cleaner: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series)
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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.
I spend five minutes cleaning it, staring beyond the streaks and my reflection at the world outside to the little people walking among the little streets. I spend some quality time with the plant. I replace the microcassette tape from the audio recorder I have hidden in there, careful to touch the recorder only with the rags. I tuck the tape into my pocket. I still have a job to do, and I head back to my office to grab the vacuum cleaner, then return and use it to clean up. Ten minutes later I
supply room is good like that. It supplies. No reason for it not to supply me. I look at my watch. Twelve o’clock—lunchtime. I head back to my office. The tools and the cords and the paint—this gear I don’t get to use. All I do is clean. Everybody here thinks I have the IQ of a watermelon. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfect. CHAPTER EIGHT My chair is uncomfortable and my lunch isn’t that great. With several nice sights out the window, I lean over and look at the women out there as
thing I do? Something else is banging around in my thoughts too. Something I can’t quite get a firm grip on. I can see the edges of it floating back there, but when I try to haul the damn thing in, I lose my grip on it and it falls completely away. Will it come back if I take another peek? No way in hell am I going to find out. I raise my hand to my mouth and bite my knuckle. I can hardly feel a damn thing. My hand tastes of sweat. I wonder if Dad ever thought I was gay. Should I go back and
feels warm. I don’t know how the doctor does it, but she moves so quickly that one moment she’ll be holding something sharp in the air, and the next she’ll be dabbing something on me. I blink once, she changes position; I blink again, she’s somewhere else—I’m slipping in and out of consciousness. Mostly her words are disjointed, but she’s trying to reassure me. I watch as she removes pieces of skin and flesh, then I can watch no more. I stare up at the ceiling. It is sagging slightly in the
“What’s wrong? Why are you in the hospital?” “I chipped a tooth.” I sit there gripping the phone, pretty sure she’s told me she just chipped a tooth, but knowing that’s not what she said because . . . well . . . “A tooth? You chipped a tooth and you’re at the hospital?” I shake my head, trying to make her words make sense. If she chipped a tooth, then wouldn’t she be . . . “At the dentist. Why aren’t you at a dentist?” “I’ve been to the dentist, Joe.” She says nothing then. My mother, a woman