Joe Victim by Paul Cleave – 2014

Joe VictomOnce again Paul Cleave takes us to ‘hell-on-wheels’ Christchurch – a city well on its way into moral and physical chaos.  Characters from previous novels appear – mainly Joe Middleton, a serial killer in prison awaiting trial, and Carl Schroder, now an ex-detective and working for a TV psychic.  Although there are continuations of previous story lines, this book can stand alone, as Cleave cleverly fills you in along the way.  Joe is awaiting trial as ‘the Christchurch Carver’ – trying to shore up a ‘slow’ persona and an ‘I don’t remember anything’ defence.  Tension is added by Schroder’s angsting over doing a deal with Joe for his TV show, Joe’s girlfriend “Melsissa” planning to break him out of jail, and the whole of Christchurch debating whether or not to bring back the death penalty.  What I enjoyed about the book was its complex plotting – keeping you guessing and surprised all the way along.  It is bleak and bloodthirsty – but then it is part of Cleave’s “Christchurch noir” series.

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