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 everything about them, every thought that ran through their heads, especially in the dialog.
The narration alternates between Joe and Sally. Joe is the cleaner, who’s a highly intelligent, sociopathic, serial-killing rapist. It’s fascinating to read a novel from his point of view. He mostly didn’t have a conscience about any of the evil things he did, but at times he appeared to have a small bit of a conscience and then he’d do or say something to make you feel like it was just a false alarm. Oddly, he loved his goldfish more than any living thing. Joe was very sarcastic and funny and I felt weird laughing at the things he said knowing he was a sick bastard. His character is so well developed that at times I wasn’t sure if it was a sign of Paul Cleave’s exceptional writing talents
or if Paul is in fact, very unhinged. How in the world does a writer get into the mind of a serial killer like that? It’s amazing.
Sally is Joe’s coworker and at it took quite a while to learn her significance in the novel.
Evelyn is Joe’s mom and she is so amusing. Joe’s visits with her were the funniest. Speaking of funny, this novel had several comedic moments in unexpected scenes, such as in a graveyard. I wasn’t expecting to laugh while reading a novel that featured a serial killer.
One person said in their review that they felt sorry for Joe and before I read this book, I was thinking Are you crazy?
After I read the novel, I understood why the reviewer felt sympathy for him. The park scene and later at his apartment will actually make you feel sorry for him. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even Joe. If you think Joe is evil, wait until you meet Melissa.
There were times when Joe’s luck seemed unbelievable. He was able to do things undetected when he should have been caught. He was able to walk into a conference room of the police station where he worked, grab files and either make copies in the copy room or take the files home. You would think that a station full of police officers and detectives would notice missing files for an open case. Other times, he was able to sneak into people’s houses unnoticed, not to mention all of the cars he stole. He also walked everywhere with a briefcase that contained a gun and knives including into work every day.
I loved this novel so much that I immediately went to the library to pick up the next book of this series, Joe Victim
. If Joe Victim
is as good as The Cleaner
, I’m planning to devour all of Paul Cleave’s
novels. I highly recommend this novel to fans of psychological thrillers and aspiring writers who want to learn about character development.