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The Cleaner: A Thriller (Cleaner #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  864 ratings  ·  125 reviews
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, including his day job at 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 se ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by Atria Books (first published 2006)
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Joe is the janitor at the Christchurch Police Department in New Zealand. He is known as 'Slow Joe' by his employers who think he is mentally handicapped, but Joe is far from it. In fact, he is very intelligent and having his employers think he is slow is a major advantage for him. Joe gets told about various cases and the latest one being the one the media have dubbed the Christchurch Carver.

Without giving out too much of the storyline away, I will say this was a very well written book and one
This was one hell of a ride, a serial killer thriller unlike any I've read so far. The protaganist Joe is quite an interesting killer with a great sense of humor to boot. Told in both first person from Joe's perspective and third person from a co-worker's perspective, the story never fails to fascinate and the writing is superb as usual from Cleave. Dark and nasty with a particularly grisly scene no man will ever forget. A terrific ending that reveals a connection to Cleave's other books. Highly ...more
Mike Gabor
I wasn't impressed with this book at all. The story is told mainly thru the voice of Joe, a serial killer known as the Christchurch Carver. Joe works as a cleaner for the police department. He obtained the job by pretending to be mentally retarded. He spies on the squad investigating the murders in order to stay one step ahead of them. The other voice heard is that of Sally, a fellow worker at the police department. She has a connection to Joe as she finds him resembling her late brother who was ...more
By Paul Cleave

Joe is not your average Joe. The people he works with at the police station call him ‘Slow Joe’. He is a member of the janitorial staff and he keeps all the offices and the squad rooms clean.
But Joe is not really slow. He has perfected his act so finely tuned he even surprises himself. Joe is a serial killer. The worst kind of serial killer because he feels no remorse. He preys upon and kills women with such a ferocity that even the detectives attempting to solve the mu
Cleave has become my new favorite author. I love the rough-hewn characters and in-your-face style he presents his readers with. I have devoured all his novels featuring Detective Theodore Tate and so was
a little disappointed that “The Cleaner” is a stand-alone novel not featuring Tate. The disappointment lasted all of three chapters and by page forty six, I was so overcome by the pure evil of Joe the killer, the Christchurch Carver, I was tempted to look at the last page to be sure he is finally
Hana Howard
This is crime fiction on the black and bloody side. Paul Cleave creates extraordinary fictional characters. They are charming and chilling. His tight plotted story is moved by their actions and personalities.

Joe is seeking a copycat killer. Joe knows that in addition to the serial killer the media has dubbed the Christchurch Carver there is someone else playing at being the killer.
He knows because it is his crimes that have created the Christchurch Carver
Joe has positioned himself in the best ad
The Cleaner is Christchurch, New Zealand based Paul Cleave's debut novel. Set in Christchurch where at one point Joe, the central character, muses that the biggest crime in Christchurch City - apart from the fashion and the Old English Architecture, glue-sniffing, too much greenery, bad driving, bad parking, lack of parking, wandering pedestrians, expensive shops, the winter smog, the summer smog, kids riding skateboards on footpaths, kids riding bikes on footpaths, old guys yelling Bible passag ...more
Joe jobbt er als Putzmann bei der Polizei. Er denkt daran, seine Fische zweimal täglich zu füttern und seine Mutter mindestens einmal pro Woche zu besuchen. Er stört sich kaum an den Nachrichten über den Schlächter von Christchurch, der - so wird behauptet - sieben Frauen umgebracht hat. Joe weiß, dass der Schlächter nur sechs getötet hat. Was er jedoch nicht weiß - noch nicht weiß - ist wer dieser Nachahmer ist. Aber Joe wird ihn finden; er wird ihn für die eine Tat bestrafen und ihm die andere ...more
PROTAGONIST: Joe Middleton, janitor
SETTING: Christchurch, New Zealand
WHY: Joe is a seemingly mentally challenged janitor in the Christchurch police department who is also a serial killer. His job allows him access to information on the murders. The "Christchurch Carver" is accused of killing 7 women; Joe knows he only killed 6 which leads him into trying to find the copycat so he can pin all the murders on him. One of his co-workers, a maintenance worker named Sally, tries to help him
This was a fantastic book! I used to read a lot of thriller/mystery books, but found them to be redundant. I was cautiously optimistic that I would like this book and pleasantly surprised that I loved it! I don't want to give anything away, but this is a must read if you like thriller books. There was not a dull moment or any sections that were tempting to skip through. An intense thrill ride. I'll be reading more books by Paul Cleave.

I was fortunate to have won this book through Goodreads!
Rikke Andrup Jensen
I couldn’t really figure out whether the main character, Joe, was a less gifted or extremely intelligent person. His actions are based on simple calculations and conclusions, and yet he is crafty and extremely pushy. At the same time his judgment is unrealistic and his relationship with women – especially his mother – is completely out of proportion. I’m sure a psychologist could create a rewarding career, if he dug into Joe’s personality.

Paul Cleave has written a captivating crime novel in an e
Nicola Mansfield
Nov 30, 2013 Nicola Mansfield rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of serial killer thrillers
This is Paul Cleave's first book; it is also the direct prequel to Joe Victim, his latest book which I read recently. Since I read the books the wrong way round I knew all the who-dunnits in this book but did not know the whys or hows. This did affect my enjoyment of the book and I do highly recommend you read the two books in the proper order! However, I enjoyed Joe Victim so much I just had to read the beginnings of his story. This (well both books) is a very unique take on the serial killer b ...more
My Inner Shelf
Un thriller pris à l’envers, du point de vue du tueur lui-même, qui, pour ne pas faire comme tout le monde va mener l’enquête ? Allez, soyons fous ! Joe Middleton nous entraîne dans son délire avec une efficacité redoutable. Le lecteur suit le mode de pensée de Joe, alias Joe-Le-Lent, officiellement homme de ménage intellectuellement déficient, et partage ses réflexions personnelles sur le monde qui l’entoure. On découvre une personnalité complexe et absolument flippante. Joe est un vrai misanth ...more
This was the best book I've read in a long time. Wow what a thriller! Joe was a fantastic character and developed really well. It was funny how he has himself so convinced that he is perfectly normal and not "sick and twisted" like other killers out there...heck he just does it because he enjoys it...he might even be doing society a favor! But there are moments in the book where you get a glimpse into his internal turmoil and you know that he is not as "normal" as he wishes himself to be. His re ...more
The idea to write a book which focuses on the villain's view isn't new nor is it always a wise thing to do.
But Paul Cleave writes fast paced and sarcastic and most important - after some pages you start to BELIEVE Joe (the main character) and after some chapters you find yourself LIKING him.

A warning: this book IS brutal - yes. It IS bloody - yes. And at some pointe some might find it disguousting - yes. But you need all this to get yourself comfortable "following" Joe on his way.

A great first book. I enjoyed this so much I now want to make my way through the rest of his novels.

Fairly brutal, though hard to put down, full of great twists.

I think Joe's character is well developed. When he occassionally shows little surprising touches of humanity, it's such a relief that you almost want to like him!

I loved reading a thriller book set in my familiar home environment of Christchurch. I love the unromantic view of the city and the exaggerated dark underbelly. Sometimes it'
Joe Middleton works as a janitor at the Christchurch police station. Everyone believes his "Slow Joe" act and think he is mentally retarded; but he is far from that. He is actually one clever, sick and twisted serial killer known as the Christchurch Carver. He has 6 women under his record and a seventh is chalked up to him, but he knows it isn't so. And so it begins: Joe's personal investigation to find that copycat. During his investigation he has to deal with his mother, a co-worker and a very ...more
Not quite sure what to think of this. It has good and bad points, the different viewpoints really show how people can interpret conversations/actions so differently depending on their perspective, and how easy it is to overlook people and not really see the true them.
That part I enjoyed. The cat and mouse game was good, although I didnt like the main character or want him to get away with it. The book had elements of american psycho which were a bit over the top for me personally, but easier to
Off The Shelf
Etinosa Agbonlahor reviewed The Cleaner on

The Serial Killer Next Door by Etinosa Agbonlahor

Local media in Christchurch, New Zealand, are obsessively covering the story of the “Christchurch Carver,” a serial killer who has gruesomely killed seven women. Joe, a cleaner at the police department in Christchurch, knows the police are wrong. He knows the Christchurch Carver has only killed six people—because he is the Christchurch Carver. And he is determined to find the copycat.

Sep 05, 2008 Benno rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Benno by: Blair
This is a fairly gruesome crime novel, with an interesting idea, (which is probably not original, but I haven't seen it before), where the narrator is the serial killer. I think it works pretty well for an interesting novel, but is not necessarily an accurate depiction of a real serial killer's state of mind.

This book is also interesting as it is set in Christchurch, New Zealand, which makes for a more original setting than London, New York or Chicago.

Also, the first chapter is really cool.
Richard Ward
Ultra-violent thriller, set in Christchurch, New Zealand. Told in two alternating voices:
1. In first person, with an unreliable narrator: a serial killer chasing another serial killer, even as he is tormented by a third serial killer. If you've read the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, you won't be able to keep from drawing comparisons. This stands up well against those.
2. In third person, with another questionable narrator, as we follow a woman who thinks that Joe (the main protagonist) is reta
Ok so more of a 3.5 star rating. I enjoyed this book and will certainly follow it up now with Joe Victim. The book is written from the perspective of a serial killer, Joe (the cleaner at the police station) and whilst the story tried to humanise Joe I struggled to 'like' (if that's the right word!) him given the atrocities he committed. My absolute enjoyment of a book is based on well written characters who I can empathise with and relate to. The characters in The Cleaner are well written, the s ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Boepple
I only gave this 4 stars because I miss the main characters from his other books. This was released after but in the series it's book one. A little different as the main character was the killer. At first I wasn't quite sure how I would like that but as the story unfolds it was actually really good. I would definitely recommend this book. Read it before his others or after as I did. It blends in well either was I think
Kelly Stewart
Excellent! This book was different in that it's told from the first person point of view of the killer, rather than the cop(s) hunting him. Looking forward to reading the rest of Paul Cleve's books!
Joe is a cleaner at a police station in Christchurch, New Zealand. He's a bit simple and the police are pleasantly patronising towards him. Except, they're wrong. Joe has everyone fooled. He's not simple at all. In fact he's a serial killer and the cops are investigating his murders.

Now before you switch off thinking serial killer books are too violent and graphic, you'd be wrong. In his first novel Cleeve cleverly manages to convey the violence without actually describing it in detail.

The stor
Terrific book! Sure, it's about a serial killer, but it's funny too. Nasty humor (in a good way). One I my favorite aspects is how he sometimes feels confused or is in denial about what he does. For example, he puts rat poison into his mother's coffee and then spends the whole night worried that something bad will happen to her. This was really fun to read.
Kitty Montamer
Gefällt mir:
Die Geschichte wird aus der Sicht von Joe - dem Täter - erzählt. So bekommt man als Leser einen sehr tiefen Einblick in dessen Sichtweise und Gedankenwelt. In manchen Teilen der Story sympathisiert man so sogar mit ihm. Er scheint der normale Kerl von Nebenan zu sein. Lebt allein, arbeitet als Hausmeister in einer Polizeistation und hat eine Art Hassliebe zu seiner Mom. Sein Vater ist vor ein paar Jahren verstorben.
Es hat mir sehr gefallen auch einmal diese Erzählweise zu erleben. Al
Amanda T
Would have been a 5 star for the unique lead character, but the plot got muddled in the middle and I started to lose track. Had to go back a few times to figure how who was talking and why (I hate having to do that).

Somewhat Dexter-like in that Joe is a serial killer and the story is told from his point of view.

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Paul Cleave is an internationally bestselling author who is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He has won the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel in New Zealand, he won the Saint-Maur book festival's crime novel of the y ...more
More about Paul Cleave...

Other Books in the Series

Cleaner (2 books)
  • Joe Victim (Cleaner, #2)
Collecting Cooper (Theodore Tate, #2) Blood Men The Laughterhouse (Theodore Tate, #3) Cemetery Lake (Theodore Tate, #1) Joe Victim (Cleaner, #2)

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