NZ crime novel an edge-of-seat thriller

July 3, 2014
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The Laughterhouse, by Paul Cleave (Penguin, RRP $38):

Christchurch-born author Paul Cleave has turned out another cracking read in the latest book in the private investigator Theodore Tate series.

Tate is an ex-cop now working as a private investigator who is still haunted by his very first crime scene: a 10-year-old girl found raped and murdered in an abandoned slaughterhouse that had the name of the building edited with spray-paint, renaming it the “Laughterhouse”.

That crime was wrapped up, with the killer arrested and justice done. Or so it seemed.

A decade and a half later, a new killer is intent on working his or her way through a list of people who were involved in that murder 15 years earlier and Tate has the job of finding the connection between the murder victims, the Laughterhouse and the killer.

The killer claims victim after victim in just one day and it becomes a race against time when another victim is kidnapped along with his three young daughters and is being forced to choose which of his daughters should die first.

The storyline is the perfect mix of uncomfortable, unpleasant and exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Set in Christchurch, there’s a feeling of familiarity that is a pleasant change of pace for a Kiwi reader but it is generic enough to appeal to readers from anywhere in the world. So long as they enjoy fast-paced crime dramas with believable characters, complex plots and lots of action.

Between Cleave and Dunedin-based Vanda Symon, New Zealand is producing some stunning crime novels that certainly stack up with those being written by the top authors elsewhere in the world.

This is Cleave’s sixth novel and the third in the PI Tate series and each one is better than the last. His track record as a Kiwi crime-writing sensation is sure to be further cemented with this book.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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