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The Cleaner

(Cleaner #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,032 ratings  ·  260 reviews
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 hi ...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by Atria Books (first published 2006)
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Gabi Coatsworth I was told by Charles Todd, an American mother and son writing team who write about post WW1 Britain, that their publishers force them to change words…moreI was told by Charles Todd, an American mother and son writing team who write about post WW1 Britain, that their publishers force them to change words they (the publishers) don't think the 'average' American reader will understand. (They didn't say 'stupid' but the implication was that publishers assume readers won't know any vocabulary other than American, which is a disservice to the reader, I think.(less)

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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,032 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite books ever. If you are a fan of YOU by Caroline Kepnes and haven't read this yet than I am jealous that you still get to have the experience.

This book is THAT good!
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it

Seven women in Christchurch, New Zealand have been brutally raped and murdered by a killer dubbed the "Christchurch Carver." The homicide squad, led by Detective Carl Schroder, is working hard on the case and Joe - the police station's mentally challenged janitor - sometimes asks "Any new leads?" before getting Schroder his morning coffee.

Joe has reason to be be interested because in reality HE'S the Christchurch Carver. Joe pretended to be disabled to get the cleaning job, and his vacant stare
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

I have been wanting to read Paul Cleave for some time now, but The Cleaner being chosen for the Psychological Thriller Group read was just the impetus I needed.

I will definitely be reading the rest of his books.

The first chapter is one of the best I have read. It smacks of normality, and then WHAM!

Joe, the Janitor for the Christchurch Police Department, is not your average Joe. He loves his job, but not for the reason you might expect.

To the world, Joe appears "special"; slow, dull witted,
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
After I read Paul Cleave's newest book, Trust No One, and loved it, I decided to read all his books starting with his first, The Cleaner. This book is very different, but I did enjoy it. A warning for the squeamish, there is a LOT of violence, killing, and gore in this book.

This book is about Joe, a serial killer who works as a developmentally challenged janitor in the police department. I'm not sure how Cleave did it, but he made me like Joe. It was interesting to see things through Joe, who so
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Disturbing and dark account of a serial killers reign of terror through Christchurch. Its a 1st person style account of Joe, a janitor for the local policestation who also happens to be The Carver. He lives this secret double life, and we are witness to his crimes and problems/delusions. A copycat killer appears, and throws his simiple life into chaos. I found some scenes a little too disturbing and graphic for my liking. The plot was very simple for the 1st half of the novel and didnt really ta ...more
Oct 18, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF at 72%

The Cleaner starts out wonderfully. We follow along with a serial killer who works as a cleaner in the police station investigating him. He notices that one of the murders attributed to him isn't his, so he decides to hunt down this copycat and show them what he thinks of their cowardice! It's cool and demented and while the writing isn't the best thing I've ever listened to, the premise of serial killer hunting down a killer is always going to hold my interest.

And then we got about h
Dawn G
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It took me a little while to warm up to this book; however, once I did I had trouble putting it down. Although the author did not create the dark eerie setting I usually look for in a good thriller, the plot and the characters were extremely dark so it was definately my kind of read. However; the real reason I gave it a five star rating is because of the author's ability to make feel something I'm not even sure I want to admit to feeling. I actually liked and truly felt sorry for the main charac ...more
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
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
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for our November book reading

This was a very interesting book and one that was chosen for the November book read at Goodreads. I am glad that this book was chosen for it was very well worth the time and money spent on it...
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Cleanerby Paul Cleave
The Christchurch Noir Mystery Series Book #1
4.5 ★'s

From The Book:
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
Jenny  Baker
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’d never heard of Paul Cleave until it was a book selection for the Psychological Thrillers book group. Psychological thrillers are one of my absolute favorite types of books to read, but sometimes they’re a little challenging to find.

I loved this book and this book alone has made me a new Paul Cleave fan. He is a master of character development. I’m not even kidding. I’ve never read characters that were this vivid. The characters were so distinct and real that I felt like I knew everythi
Jim Crocker
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In no time Joe, the cleaner, will start to grow on you—the irresistible attraction of the psychopath. They’re whoever you want them to be. THE CLEANER has the “juice” working for it. You’ll feel it coming through the pages. Talk about tension. And this one goes full-bore all the way to a chilling conclusion. You’ll see what I mean (heart in throat).

Goodreads Psychological Thrillers November 2015 Book of the Month
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This has one of the most gruesome torture scenes I've ever read. Men reading it will recoil in horror... definitely not for the faint of heart. I almost felt sorry for Joe, but he's an evil serial killer with a perfect disguise. Another great novel by this author.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After I recently read Paul Cleaves' latest book Trust No One, which I really enjoyed, I jumped at the chance to go back and listen to his first book, The Cleaner, which has recently been released on audio. I am so glad I did.
Joe is a cleaner working in the police station where he is known as Slow Joe. Joe is also an intelligent serial killer, the Christchurch Carver, whom the police are desperately trying to catch. While spying on the police investigation, Joe discovers that he is being framed f
Hana Howard
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nicola Mansfield
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Ella-Maluca Floyd
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is definitely a dark graphic tale of Joe, a slightly slow janitor at the police station, or at least that's what people think. In reality, he is using the guise to keep tabs on the police and also get info about a copy cat criminal who is stealing his thunder.

The story is set in Christchurch and has one of the best opening chapters (or maybe a prologue) that I've read this year. I listened to the audio. There was a lot of graphic cringe-worthy scenes --- the kind where you look around to se
Sandy Hall
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great story and so well written. Interesting perspective from the serial killer protagonist.
Judy Collins
What a wild ride - twisted, evil, and witty! Review to follow.

Merged review:

What a wild ride - twisted, evil, and witty! Review to follow.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
An entertaining read.

There are few writers out there that manage to mix darkness and humour at such extremes as Paul Cleave. On the one hand, Joe is competent at what he does -being the infamous Christchurch Carver- and manages to fool everyone at work into thinking him slow and barely functioning, on the other hand, it becomes clear rather soon that Joe also thinks himself a lot smarter than he actually is. In his perspective, he is always a few steps ahead of everyone and in total control of
Patricia Kaniasty
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very, very good story. Had me reading deep into the night. Scary and creepy. I was on the edge of my seat.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A completely twisted story, with enough twists and turns to make you dizzy. Brilliantly plotted, very graphic, oddly funny and just amazing!
Jennifer Koudelka
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dark-creepy, mystery
I feel like I read a completely different book than everyone else who has reviewed this book. Compelling characters? Joe being funny? Relatable serial killer that you can find yourself feeling sorry for? How did we read the same book?

Joe is a serial killer, who works in the police station as a janitor. He primarily disguises his involvement in the case by pretending to be mentally disabled. The police have no leads and he discovers that the police have identified 7 murders to him, when in realit
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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

Other books in the series

Cleaner (2 books)
  • Joe Victim (Cleaner, #2)
“Are we living in such a throwaway society that we’re not even allowed to hang on to our hatred and remorse?” 3 likes
“Burglaries occur every few minutes. Mostly thanks to teenagers who will grow up to become armed offenders who shoot people to get enough money to buy their daily prescription of drugs. Up there with burglary is car theft. Cars are stolen almost as often as homes are broken into.” 0 likes
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