A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave – 2017

Killer HarvestA Killer Harvest reprises The Hands of Orlac idea that body parts transplanted onto a new host will carry the evil intent of the donors – as donors in historic horror are most likely to come from the criminal classes.  Cleave has wrapped this in the current pseudoscience of cellular memory.  He has also updated the classic source of the harvested organs (criminals) by having some of his central police and medical characters in on a scheme to harvest organs for the greater good, by the summary execution of suspects.  Central to the plot is young Joshua Logan.  Joshua has been blind from birth, he also lost both parents when he was quite young so he was fostered by an aunt and uncle.  His ‘dad’ is a detective and when he is killed on the job Joshua is devastated and sees it as another episode in his cursed life.  But there is a potential miracle in this particular episode, as his father has arranged that in the case of his death a brilliant ophthalmologist will transplant his eyes into Joshua, allowing the boy to see for the first time.  Unfortunately, the father’s death occurred during one of the executions planned by Joshua’s father and his partner Ben Kirk.  Ben carried out the killing and so it is not only Joshua’s dad having his eyes removed the day Joshua gets new eyes, the murderer is too.  Even more unfortunately the executed-without-trial murderer also had a partner, Vincent Archer, and Vincent makes up a list of people he can kill to make Ben very very sorry he killed Vincent’s mate.  In a nice touch Cleave has Vincent leave Ben’s cat off the list, but his ex-partner’s son is way near the top.  So poor cursed Joshua not only has his new eyes to cope with and the bullies at his new school, but he also has a very nasty man trying to kill him.  There is a theme through the novel of Joshua’s favourite books – vampires and zombies – books where creatures unsuccessfully struggle against their true natures.  And A Killer Harvest certainly leans to the view that evil is carried out not by choice but as a result of who you are, or whose parts you may have received under anaesthetic.  It is creepy and extremely well plotted, you may guess some of the twists but I bet you don’t guess them all.  It is compelling reading and yet another great Kiwi thriller from Paul Cleave.

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